Two for One: Eragon and Scoundrels

I haven’t gotten around to reading any Crichton lately, because I really haven’t been in the mood, but I still have been doing lots of reading and I have finished two books in the last few weeks. As I’ve gotten older I noticed that I tend to go through phases with reading, I will read a lot and want to read a lot for a few months or so and then I will not read at all for a while. I’m hoping that I can make this current reading phase that I am in last longer than a few months and finish up the initial draft of my novel while I’m at it. The wife and I are doing the camp Nanowrimo in July and if I can stick with it I will make my goal of 100k words total on my novel by the end of the camp. I already have several Alpha readers lined up and I am ready to start my first of many revisions, this ball needs to keep on a’ rollin. So with that this will be a two for one blog on Eragon and Scoundrels, fair warning there will be spoilers ahead for both of these books.

First a shot from my hotel room where I recently spent a week and a half in Kona Hawaii.

View from Hilton in Kona

The epic views of the Pacific were a great setting to finish this book up and I look forward to reading the others in the series sometime soon. Overall I really enjoyed the book even though I have read many others that are set in high fantasy worlds with Dwarves, Elves, Dragons, Magic and the like. It was very much a YA fantasy novel, much in the same genre that I hope to market my own book. My book will have considerably less Dwarves, Elves, and Dragon riders. But I do plan on keeping at least some Dragons around, but there will be no riding of them allowed, maybe… Eragon is the name of the main character who, while out on a hunting trip in some mountains surrounding his tucked away little farm where he lives with his Uncle and Cousin, finds a mysterious stone that appears out of nowhere. He was looking for something to eat and not a strange glowing stone so promptly tries to trade it for a bunch of meat to help his family survive the winter. It does not go well at the butchers but the blacksmith swoops in and hooks him up in exchange for some help at the Forge over the next year. Eragon gladly accepts and heads back to his farm with the haul that will help them make it through some tough times. Everything seems to be going fairly fine until the strange rock decides to hatch one night and blammo, Eragon now has a full-fledged Dragon to look after. It grows really fast, making it hard to keep a secret and after asking the local old Curmudgeon in town about Dragons, Brom, gives him a list of all the previous Dragons names and keeps asking very pointed questions about Dragons. Eragon consults with the Dragon who he can now communicate with telepathically and they decide her name will be Saphira. Saphira is my favorite character in the book and as things keep happening at a fairly quick pace all throughout their adventures she seems to grow as a character along with Eragon of course. Lots of bad things happen very quickly, some bad guys come and kill his uncle and destroy his farm so Brom and Eragon head off after them seeking revenge. Along the way Eragon learns he can perform magic and also learns the finer points of fighting by practicing every day with Brom, he even learns how to read. Lots of other fun and interesting things happen along the way and I would greatly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys fantasy, especially YA fantasy. Next up Scoundrels! But first a picture of the best beach I have ever been on, Hapuna beach on the Kona side of Hawaii.

Hapuna Beach Kona

Scoundrels is the latest Timothy Zahn Star Wars Expanded Universe novel, since Disney has taken over the Star Wars franchise they gave the EU some sort of new name but I forget what it is. This isn’t my favorite Zahn novel in the Star Wars universe but after a slow start the book really picked up for me and had a really crazy twist ending I didn’t see coming. The book is framed around a Heist, think Oceans 11 but instead of Brad Pitt and George Clooney, Han Solo and Lando Calrissian are running the show. Chewbacca along with a bunch of other characters are thrown in to liven things up and we get a little more detail on exactly how Lando came into Cloud City and what the old beef between he and Han was. There was a prequel novella included at the back of the book which I didn’t get to until about halfway through the novel, I wish I would have read it first because it really helped set things up and introduce some of the other cast that appears in Scoundrels.

I decided to pick up Justin Cronin’s The Passage after I finished Scoundrels and I have not been the least bit disappointed. It has really been hard to put down and I look forward to reading more as soon as I finish up this blog post! After that I am thinking of finishing Asimov’s Foundation Trilogy to help myself get back into the Sci-Fi writing groove. I started Camp Nanowrimo today and have about half my word goal for the day completed, I will write a little more before bed. That is all for now, I will probably update the blog next when I get the Michael Crichton Experience timeline up to speed, hopefully soon. Also I am disappointed the USA team lost to Belgium today but glad that Soccer got a little bit of the headlines I love the World Cup and I have my own personalized USA jersey to prove it!

jersey

A Song of Ice and Fire Book 3 – A Storm of Swords and Michael Crichton Experience Update

I’ve got a fever, and the only prescription is more… Game of Thrones!!! I seriously can’t get enough GOT lately and just as a heads up this post will have spoilers for at least books 1-3 of A Song of Ice and Fire.

A Storm of Swords is easily my favorite book of the series so far and even though I plan on taking a break from the world of Westeros now that I have finished book 3, to focus on Crichton for a while, I have thoroughly enjoyed my time in the world that George R. R. Martin has created. As my wife most brilliantly said after finishing the first book “Who the fuck kills off the main character at the end of the first book, this guy has balls.” George R. R. Martin that’s fucking who. I don’t know if he is demented or what but more characters die in game of Thrones than any other series of books I can think of. When it comes to deaths in the third book there were actually quite a few that I found extremely satisfying. Joffrey, Tywin, and The Mountain come to mind, although The Mountain isn’t technically dead yet but dying from Oberonn’s poisoned spear and I am pretty sure he won’t survive. What a fight scene for Tyrion’s life after he is done with his father’s shit and demands trial by combat! I hope the show does it justice, we just finished season 3 and the wife and I are very much looking forward to season 4 which covers the rest of book 3. Then Tyrion getting his revenge on Tywin while he was in the privy was pretty epic, I liked that Martin confirmed that Tywin Lannister in fact does not shit gold, I laughed out loud during that part.

Tyrion is still my favorite character in the books and for how much I hated the Lannister’s in the first book they have grown on me some since, well Jaime and Tyrion at least. The Jaime chapters in book 3 were my favorite followed closely by John. Speaking of John the most impactful death for me in book 3 was Igret. I thought the scene when John finds her, after defending the wall from the wildling attack party that he had just escaped from after they scaled the wall, was probably my favorite scene in the books so far. My wife and I don’t really care about spoilers because it is pretty much impossible to avoid them at this point and when I was describing Igret’s death scene to her it made me choke up a little, I thought the writing was just amazing. Some other big hitters from book three that come to mind as I write this post are: Zombie Catelyn, the red and purple weddings, fuck the Frey’s, where the hell is Arya going, Littlefinger is the most devious and plotting character of all time, I’m glad Lysa Arryn is dead too bad her kid didn’t see her fly, and Stannis at the wall! There is seriously so much going on in this book I could write about it for days but I’m not George R. R. Martin, my recommendation is if you haven’t checked out Game of Thrones yet, do so it is awesome.

The wife and I are heading to Hawaii next week and I could not be more excited. I hope to get the Michael Crichton Experience timeline updated before then because I got a hold of all the mystery novels that he wrote under a pseudonym, John Lange, when they re-released them in paperback recently. I plan on doing at least some reading on the beach and a Crichton mystery novel sounds like prime beach reading material. I have also been working on my novel again, which feels awesome, and I plan on doing Camp NanoWrimo in July to get another 50k words and get closer to finishing the draft of book 1 and start revision sooner than later. I fly out to Vegas tonight for the weekend to hang out with my best friend and his wife, who I have also known forever, and see their new baby. Life is good.

Update on my Slacking

Well it has been a while since I posted, a little over 3 months I guess.  But I have been trying to keep myself busy.  I am finishing up my semester at UAF and I am looking forward to graduating next Spring.  School has definitely been keeping me busy but I have been reading and watching various things as well.  I finished listening to Stephen King’s The Stand a little bit ago and as soon as I make myself finish watching the mini-series I will do a post on that.  I am also almost done with The Legend of Zelda:  Skyward Sword for the Nintendo Wii.  Since getting my Wii U I have made a commitment to play console games more and so far it has been nice to hang out in the living room with my wife and play the games a little at a time instead of sitting at work all day on my PC then coming home and sitting all night on my PC playing computer games.

I also just turned 31 last Monday, it’s still weird being in my 30’s but I think I am getting used to it.  My mom, sister, and sister’s boyfriend all came up to visit me the week before my birthday and it was good to see them for a few days.  Image

(Pic with my mom and sister above) My lovely wife Ellie took me out to a Japanese Steak house the night before my birthday and that was really fun and then we went out to our new favorite Mexican place in the mall, Azteca on my bday.  I got the new Lego City:  Undercover game for Wii U and a Lego Wii controller, I was and still am very stoked about the presents.  I also got an awesome card, my wife makes the best cards with drawings and everything, and some of her famous jelly filled cupcakes with butter cream frosting. All in all it was a really good birthday.

I finally updated my Michael Crichton Experience timeline and I have started reading another one of his books, to go along with several other books I am reading, but I really like this one so far so it should be a quick read I think.  There is a movie also and it has a very young John Lithgow in it so I am excited to watch it, he even has hair I think.  Well enough rambling on I plan on posting more once school is over, which is soon, and doing a lot of reading and writing this summer.  We have a couple of trips planned for this Summer and the one I am most excited about is Sunriver, we are going over the 4th of July with a bunch of friends and it should be good times.  I am almost up to 40k words on my novel and I hope to have a first revision done of it by the end of the year.  Stay tuned for more posts, my thoughts on The Stand are coming soon!

Rothfuss, Rodrigo, and Richie

Taking a page from my friend Jim’s blog today with the title 😀

I ordered a signed copy of one of the best books I have read in recent memory, The Name of the Wind.  It is by a fantastic author, with a huge beard, named Patrick Rothfuss.  I have been planning a re-read of the two books he has released for quite some time and the copy that I have of the first book in the King Killer chronicles had 200 pages randomly bound completely backwards in the middle of the book.  I had started to tear them out, since it was a free copy I had won from tor.com in the 10 best sci-fi/fantasy books in the last decade contest, but I quickly realized that was a mistake and so just read the 200 pages backwards.  It was an odd experience but  a pretty unique one, I have never read a book backwards, from right to left, and probably never will again.  I understand a lot more about the whole world he has created for the books and what a lot of the things mean since reading the 2nd book and putting everything together.  I thoroughly enjoyed my first read of the book but there were a lot of little details I just glossed over because I wasn’t sure what they meant.  The extremely detailed re-read that was on, tor.com, also helped explain a lot of things to me, so I am very much looking forward to reading it again, and hopefully understanding more of what is happening.

I really enjoy collecting signed books and I am still kicking myself for not ordering the Stephen King 25th anniversary edition of IT that was signed by SK!!!  I thought it was too expensive so didn’t order it, then the next day Ellie says hey look there’s this awesome version of IT signed you should buy it, I got to buy it and BAM sold out in less than 24 hours.  Speaking of IT, I am officially over halfway through the book and it is an amazing read.  Ellie has been trying to get me to read IT for basically the entire time I have known her, she has slowly gotten me into Stephen King, and I have thoroughly enjoyed his works, but IT really stands out to me.  The story and how he writes it is just so good and so perfect it’s hard to describe without actually reading the book yourself.  The book has been pretty intense so far but I think it’s about to ramp up a notch.  I mentioned Richie in my blog title, referring to Richie Tozer, one of the main characters in IT.  At this point in the novel they are all back in Derry and roaming around experiencing hallucinations and threats from It.  They have all decided to roam around by themselves and have experienced weird little things, Richie is standing in front of the Paul Bunyon statue and something is going to happen I am not sure what but that is the precise place that I stopped reading last night.  I know the upcoming scene is going to be scary and crazy because Ellie has mentioned this scene to me many times before.  There is an actual Paul Bunyon statue in SK’s home town of Bangor Maine and when Ellie and I visited there, it was the first thing we stopped and took pictures in front of.  Just being near the statue in real life freaked Ellie out so I am very interested to see what happens in the pages I will be reading tonight.  Going to Bangor was a very cool experience even though I hadn’t read my first SK novel at that point, we want to go back and visit Maine sometime soon, and I hope we get to explore Bangor again.  We drove around the town and tried to find places we thought were in the movie version of IT, Ellie had a better idea of what things were since she had read IT and many other SK novels, we thing we might have even found the Barrens.  Maine was a place I would not be sad to live in, it was really one of the only places I have ever been where it felt like home.  It’s a hard feeling to describe but it felt like we could live there and it would be good.

Ellie in front of Paul Bunyon Statue

On Sundays Ellie and I like to do what we have dubbed “Low-Tech Sunday”  where we try to spend as much time away from the TV and computers and gadgetry and just hang out and read and enjoy each others company.  I got a couple hundred pages of IT read and lots of relaxing done, a nap even, but Sunday was a day we had been looking forward to because it was the Season 2 finale of The Borgias.  The Borgias is one of the best shows on television right now, in my opinion.  It is on Showtime and is very much adult oriented seeing as it has lots of sex and graphic violence.  It follows the exploits and papacy of Pope Alexander the VI, better known as the Borgia Pope.  It is fiction of course but it seems like a lot of the events that happen in the show are based on what really happened.  I have done some research on his papacy and it follows real life events pretty spot on.  Jeremy Irons plays Rodrigo Borgia and the cast of other main characters is basically his entire family, he has an ex-wife, a mistress, a daughter, and 3 sons.  I highly recommend it and the season 2 finale did not disappoint.  I can’t wait to find out what happens with the cliff hanger that happened and I am very much looking forward to Season 3, just not the waiting for it to start!  I have plenty of other shows to watch we are chugging our way through How I Met Your Mother and I also need to finish the last 2 episodes of The Walking Dead.

That’s all for now, A Bientot

Almost February?!?!?

I can’t believe it is almost February already, oh how the time does fly when were having fun.  It has been pretty hectic around the cook household lately, with the puppy and the 3 other mongrels all vying for attention.  Puppy is learning A LOT, Ellie has taught her sit, down, stand, touch, spin, twirl, and started working on some agility training.  She is very smart and turns 9 weeks old today.  Moss is the greatest babysitter ever he is patient and plays with her and lets her bite his lips! ow!!  Scully and Cedar are still under the hope that she will disappear so they choose to ignore her.  Scully is the worst but seems to be showing signs of coming around, Cedar is her normal self but is doing much better than I thought she would.  Here is a video that Ellie made with our new Camcorder (which I plan to use some this weekend) of Ember and her new tricks.

In other happenings, I have started my second semester at University of Alaska Fairbanks, working towards turning my Associates in Disaster Preparedness into a Bachelor’s of Emergency Management.  This semester I am taking Economics and Marketing, so far I think I will really enjoy both of these classes and they both seem very interesting and useful.  Lots of homework to do but I finished my econ HW early this week and just have Marketing to deal with this weekend.

In TOR related news our new PC came and I got it all setup after 2 days and the sound finally working after 3, oh the joys of buying a PC i had to put together myself.  It was actually kind of fun, though frustrating at times, to build it myself since I have never done that before, and it saved me several hundred dollars.  Ellie has started playing TOR with me and seems to be really enjoying her Trooper she started, I have been playing mine along side her and am also really enjoying it, I will be making Havana a healer and Ellie will be doing DPS on Heleyna.  Landen is getting quite geared out in PvP gear, he is up to 10 purples and I have almost 400 expertise and am starting to own more in Warzones.  Though the Empire still greatly outnumbers us on the server and they seem to have better gear I really like PvP still, I cant wait until we have more 50’s and can do some PvE though, we are slowly yet surely making progress on that and I hope in a couple of months we will have enough to run Operations.

In other news, my buddy Keith finally set the date to get married and has the location and everything picked out.  I will be the best man!  I am excited yet nervous because I am going to have to give a speech, but since I know both Keith and Julie I figure it won’t be too hard, and I will make Ellie help me.  They are getting married in Coeur d’Alene, the town we all met 10 years ago, and the location of the ceremony is a house on the lake, and the reception will be on top of a building over looking the lake.  It will be a blast and I already got it approved to take work off for those days!  I am in charge of doin the bachelor party and I am trying to get Sunriver but if that doesnt work I may have to just do something in Vegas or Boise, we shall see.

I have a busy weekend left house cleaning, reading, writing, TOR, videoing, and HW.  Now time for some Hubbys!!