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RPGaDay in August – August 10th: Where Do You Go for RPG Reviews? August 10, 2017

Posted by jkahane in gaming hut, personal, review, roleplaying games, rpg hut.
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We continue on with #RPGaDAY in August.

RPGaDay_2017_questions.jpg,

#RPGaDAY

Day 10 – Where do you go for RPG reviews?

Truth be told, I’ve given up a long time ago on reading rpg reviews from various websites and the like.

That said, I don’t go in for reviews, per sé, but rely more on what friends have to say on the subject. I trust their insights, and they have a pretty good idea of my taste in game settings and mechanics. (Well, I like to think so.)

Books Read in July, 2017 August 2, 2017

Posted by jkahane in book hut, reading hut, review.
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As is my standard usage of my blog space at or near the beginning of the month, I present the listing of my July, 2017 reads.

*****
Books Read in July, 2017

June, 2017 Locus

A Burnable Book by Bruce Holsinger

S.P.Q.R. VIII: The River God’s Vengeance by John Maddox Roberts

Farmer in the Sky by Robert A. Heinlein (r)

TORG: The Destiny Map by Christopher Kubasik (RPG) (r)

Clariel by Garth Nix

TORG: The Living Land by Christopher Kubasik (RPG) (r)

The Bear by Claire Cameron

July, 2017 Locus
*****

And those were my reads in the month of July. This was one of the slowest months of reading I’ve had in some years, and I’m not really sure what accounts for it. Part of it was the shoulder problems I’m having, as I’ve not been able to really hold books, especially hardcovers, at the moment, but still…

The books I enjoyed the most were:

S.P.Q.R. VIII: The River God’s Vengeance by John Maddox Roberts – The eighth book in the series, this book sees Decius Metellus serving as aedile, the super-expensive position in charge of basically running Rome through public contracts and the like. When sewers are clogging and an apartment building collapses after building regulations are flouted, the two plots come to an interesting conclusion (see the book’s title). This book features the attention to detail of everyday life in ancient Rome I’ve come to expect from Roberts’s writing. It’s not clear until the end of this one whether justice will prevail. Excellent writing, and decent characters make this a novel that I highly recommend.

A Burnable Book by Bruce Holsinger – This simply marvellous book set in Chaucer’s London is a story of betrayal, murder, royal intrigue, mystery, and dangerous politics swirling around the existence of a prophetic book that foretells the deaths of England’s kings. The author uses a mix of real historical figures and a dose of imagination, making for a fantastic plot that’s mysterious without being unnecessarily withholding. It effectively builds suspense and the twists and revelations feel natural. What makes the book stand out is its cast of characters. The main character John Gower (yes *that* John Gower, poet and close friend of Geoffrey Chaucer, who is also a prominent character here) acts to bring (and tie) the supporting cast together, and he makes for an excellent character himself. I look forward to whatever the author writes in future, and to further John Gower tales. Recommended.

The Bear by Claire Cameron – This is a very powerful, highly suspenseful story narrated by a young girl who must fend for herself and her little brother Alex (“Stick”) after a brutal bear attack. Their parents do not fare well at all. The author makes a bold choice, having Anna narrate the entire story, and the execution is extremely well done. Her thoughts were perfectly scattered for a kid who hasn’t developed filters yet, but still focused on what you would expect would be important for a kid (Mommy, Daddy, her teddy bear, being hungry). To be honest, there were some missing opportunity for the kids to be kids, but I didn’t really notice them too much as I was seriously dragged into this one and was so scared for the kids. While it’s a relatively short book at 208 pages, I recommend this one as well.

Anyway, those were the highlight book reads of July for me, though I did enjoy the other books that I read this past month as well.

Overall, I managed to read 5 novels, 2 RPGs and RPG products, 2 magazines, 0 comics, and 0 graphic novels in July. This brings the year total for 2017 to a set of numbers that look like this: 61 books, 10 RPGs and RPG products, 13 magazines, 0 comics, and 0 graphic novels.

Anyway, thoughts and comments are always welcome. 🙂

Movie Review: Passengers (No Spoilers) January 20, 2017

Posted by jkahane in movie hut, personal, review, Uncategorized.
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I went and saw Passengers last night, the science fiction-cum-romance movie that left me feeling…flat. What can I say about the movie that won’t include spoilers? Hmm…

Well… Passengers starts off with a bravura opening sequence of the interstellar ship Avalon (it’s a sleeper ship at best, not a generation vessel) passing through an asteroid field on the 30th year of its 120-year voyage to the galactic hinterlands, and to tell the truth, while the opening bit is impressive visually, the plot of this movie lets the film down. The film is so proud of really boasting its star power (Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence) that it takes a while for the viewer to notice that the romantic sub-plot of the movie is quite…lame. I can’t go into details on the plot here at all, but to be honest, the first act of the film had my attention, and was quite solid; the second act of the film is about the romance between the two leads, and that was all right to some extent. The third act, however, was a disappointment and almost unwatchable in so many ways. While it’s one thing to have the ship malfunction, my problem was that the absurd amount of reveals designed to make the viewer/audience gasp wasn’t warranted or necessary. There is a plot device that’s utilized throughout the third act that could easily have been removed from the entire film, without changing the film’s conclusion.

Having said that, I will say that overall, the film is one that I rather enjoyed, and it definitely doesn’t deserve the flack that it’s received, but the final product could have been great – and it wasn’t. It has some terrific space visuals, an interesting set in the Avalon, and two interesting, well-acted main characters in Pratt’s Jim Preston and Lawrence’s Aurora Lane. Director Morten Tyldum (The Imitation Game) impresses with how easily he translated his visual prowess into the realm of large-scale science fiction, and the set design by Guy Hendrix Dyas (Inception) was immaculate, and had me really wanting to visit as many of the Avalon locations as possible.

If you have had high expectations and have yet to see this movie, I still recommend checking it out on the big screen, but I would definitely suggest lowering your expectations. Rating: 6.5/10.

Movie Review: Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (No Spoilers) December 21, 2016

Posted by jkahane in movie hut, personal, review.
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I decided last night that I was tired of feeling sorry for myself, and decided to make it a “movie night”, and high-tailed it over to the local theatres to see a movie last night. I went and saw Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.

While I’m about to talk about the movie somewhat here, there will be no spoilers for the film. (I’m not that cruel.)

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story was pretty much everything I wasn’t expecting it to be. You’ve seen the trailers and must have heard/watched some reviews, so I will say that this movie is the lead-up to the first Luke Skywalker/Leia Organa/Han Solo film from 1978 or so. This movie was stunning in its look and feel, and while it was definitely a Star Wars film, it has a different feel and style than the original six films we’ve seen before, and in my opinion was better than movies 1-3 and movie 7 in so many ways. It doesn’t have any of the characters we know (except one or two, and no spoilers here!), the characters from the film have a familiarity about them that we all know and (maybe) love. This movie injected some new life into the franchise, answered some questions about A New Hope, but the viewer knows what this story is leading up, though it ends with a bit of a surprise.

If I had a problem with Rogue One: A Star Wars Story it’s that the movie has relatively shallow characterisations, which seem to be a by-product of the script, leaping from planet to planet and battle to battle with dizzying velocity as it does. That doesn’t make the movie any less enjoyable, nor does it detract from the things we’ve come to expect from Star Wars movies. Overall, I thought the movie was quite good, and worth the price of admission. Rating: 8.5/10.