Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Kindle vs. NOOKcolor?

There are probably many of us that are seeing this since Barnes & Noble announced NOOKcolor, which is people clamoring to get it and saying Kindle is behind the times. A huge fact they are missing, and that Barnes & Noble is conveniently hiding under the table, is that the screen is no longer E-Ink. Being back-light it is more than likely simply an LCD screen. There is where the problem comes in and in the rush to have "the best gadget" people need to be aware of. The number one reason some many move to E-Ink in the first place is how much less eye strain it causes.

From simple personal experience I can say that when I have the time I can read for hours on end with needing to "rest my eyes" or getting tension headaches that same amount of reading done on an LCD would cause. To most that have tried eReaders the difference can be felt almost immediately when moving for looking at the LCD screen on their desk to going to their favorite eReader. It truly is like reading a book and while it is inconvenient to not have the back-light at times that back-light it part of the problem. That is the thing while in the title I might say Kindle vs. NOOKcolor this is more about E-Ink vs. LCD. If you really like nook better then buy it, but buy the E-Ink version while it is still available. Your eye will truly thank you for the difference.

Since I know I might not be the most persuasive voice out there here are two very good links that might help you understand all of this a little better. First is Amazon's explanation of E-Ink which can be found half way down on their Kindle product page titled "E-Ink 101: Compare Kindle's Screen to Traditional LCDs". The second is a microscopic comparison of E-Ink and LCD(http://www.bit-101.com/blog/?p=2722).

Saturday, October 9, 2010

It is always sad when someone dies.

I prefer not to talk about personal things so instead I'll talk about a writer I liked who it seems died recently. Jennifer Rardin died on Monday, September 20th. She was the writer for the Jaz Parks series. The series is about Jaz Parks who is an assassin for the government. In this alternate universe supernaturals do exists, most especially Vampires, and it is Jaz Parks job along with her mentor Val(a vampire) to stop some of the most heinous of these from continuing to do harm.

For the most part it is a fun series of books that has a little bit of adventure/comedy/etc. There is a love interest between Jaz and Val, but the books never become romances and stay firmly this side of the Urban Fantasy line. The author never tried to go for any shock factor to the story lines that seems to becoming all too over used now. The main character Jaz can be a bit of the typical tough woman with the troubled up bringing, but it does work for the character and doesn't come off too trite. She does have a "chosen one" situation, but thankfully the author doesn't have that mean the character leaves everyone behind in the power department especially her partner Val. He continues to grow as both a character and in power. It becomes an equality of saviors rather than the chosen one and her minions.

I really suggest the series if you are looking for a Vampire Urban Fantasy that hasn't yet done like many and degrade into some bodice ripper romance. Mrs Rardin's last two books for the series are finished with the 7th book due out this November and the final book due out June 2011.

Our condolences to her family and friends. Her site is JenniferRardin.net.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The Grand Masquerade (part 1)

Yes, I admit it I went to a gaming convention, a White Wolf gaming convention no less....and it was a blast. I had already mentioned I would be going to The Grand Masquerade, but to admit I went is a big step. I get less weird looks when I admit to going to an anime convention than a gaming one and that is from fellow gamers. It was well worth the price of admission. I got to game, hear some announcements of things to come, and party like it was 1997.

Any way as I said it was a lot of fun. I met a lot of people that I had a really good time playing with. I played all vampire so that will have to be my fix for a while. VtM(Vampire the Masquerade), VtR(Vampire the Requiem), DAV(Dark Ages Vampire though I prefer VtDA), and then VtR again(twice). The table top games were hosted by The Wrecking Crew and they all did an awesome job.

Game 1
The VtM game was set in Las Vegas. The characters had been gathered by the prince to play protection for a visiting Vampire. We where told by the seneschal that the Kindred in question had some enemies among the Primogen of the city and that it was very important to keep him safe. We pick up the Vampire after he arrived in a private jet and found out that he was a Lasombra Antitribu. For those that don't know the best way to put it is you have the bad vampires then the really bad vampires. He was a part of a small group that was a part of a bigger group that are the really bad vampires. This small group doesn't like the bigger groups methods so they left. Needless to say neither group really trusts them.

After a few bumps along the way we found out that he was gathering other questionable groups to support the Prince. My character gets shanked a couple times by an Assamite(the assassins of vampires) and we just barely escape. I had fun and Justin from The Wrecking Crew did a great job as ST even if he did do the whole Gangster Guido character a little too well.... :) I'm not saying nothing for nothing I'm just saying.

Game 2
This one was set in New Orleans on Halloween. It was a scavenger hunt were a mixed group of creatures of various morals competed to collect the most items before the deadline. This was my first VtR game and it wasn't as bad as I feared. The game does play better than it reads, though I still much prefer OWoD. I played a Daeva(Vampire) and then there were also a Gangrel(Vampire), a Garou(Werewolf), and two Changelings(One Oger and one Elemental).

If I had fun in the first one I had an absolute blast in this one. We all worked really well together and if Dawn, the ST in this one, was a little quieter the situations she setup for us were not. :) Which in turn had us going to extremes in how we went about things. I laughed so hard a couple times I about cried. Our group ended up going after the high point items. Among other things our characters stole "toys" for the back room of a club, a limo that we shove the motorcycle into the trunk(and we delivered the two people that stole them before we could as well), but the piece de resistance was the statue of Andrew Jackson that we used a water cutter to cut from the base and a dump truck to hall it away. Needless to say I didn't do well at the very end. Lost to a frenzy check and ran from all the fire the Elemental was doing. :) The two southern gentlemen where quite nice and gave us a clap for a job well done at the end though.

This game also started the running joke for this character. I built this character with the thought that he was an elder character and wouldn't know how to drive. So when asked to drive the limo I explained he couldn't. He does however have a max Dex for his blood potency so he can manage in a pinch. One of the other players said don't forget to keep your hands at 10 and 2. So thus was the power of 10 and 2 born.

Game 3
This one was the DAV game set in Constantinople in 1100. We were invited to the Princes party for his favorite childer. The Gangrel in this one was bound and determined to be the first to gift to the childer, so much so that 3 of us had to restrain the character so that it wouldn't look bad on us. The first time we managed it, but we were too slow the second. After that the unknown to our characters Assamite presented himself as the gift, was accepted, and then promptly told to kill another of the party goers(not one of our party) who had done something(I can't remember what now). That was turning out really bad so two of our party finished the guy of to avoid our group being embarrassed further. Upset(as part of his path_ the Assamite attempted to kill the Tzimisce for honors sake. When he decided to take himself and the other off the side of a cliff my character took the opportunity to save a fellow party member and remove a not so fellow party member by kicking...I mean helping him off the cliff.

After that our group was tasked by an elder to intercept a caravan and retrieve two gifts they were bringing. Needless to say it all went south when the Assamites Ghoul betrayed us and we got jumped by 3 archers. My character ended 1 and helped kill another. The group had already beat trail for a ship one of them owned and the three of us that stayed to defeat the Assamite archers joined them.

The ST for this one was David and a bigger character I don't think you could ever meet. He did a great job in keeping it both light yet still presenting how monstrous vampires of extreme age can be in the VtX setting.

Game 4
This game was set in Phoenix Arizona and was a follow up to the first VtR game I played in. This one was also ST'd by David and was kind of broken into two parts. The first had that we needed to get a map from someone. When we agreed we found out that someone was an inmate at one of the prisons. My job in this was to drive a Van into the gate of a prison across town to distract the police. 10 and 2! I made the rolls and got away with no problem.

Meanwhile back at the first prison they managed to get a small group inside. High jinks in sued and the found out that the map was on the back of a prisoner. A kindly individual offered to get the map for them....Yeah. We got back to the contact and found our next mission was to go to an insane asylum and retrieve someone. The asylum it turns out had a gate to Arcadia (Which is a Changeling thing that I know very little about now). It was a 1800's London and after thinking about it we realized we just brought fairy London a Jack the Ripper. He managed to slip away as we boarded a train that it seems our target had gotten on as well. Which took us to a stage coach.

No one was going to drive so I invoked the power of 10 and 2(don't ask how that works with a coach, but it involves holding the reigns up high). The Garou with me took up the reigns but lost them when the horses freaked when he shifted shape. I being the extremely reluctant hero jumped on the back of the horse and snatched up the reigns. Neither I nor may character knew what might happen, but when faced with the fact that the road curved harshly up ahead tried to turn the horses just a little to see if how much force was needed for them to respond. Not much it seems as the ran right into the side of the mountain when he pulled on the reigns.

To shorten the rest of the story a bit. Crash, fall forward, kicked by dying horse, everyone out, big brass changeling falls taking stage coach with it, anther vampire fills chasing Werewolves with powdered sliver hollow points, save BBC, meet Francis Ford Cupola Dracula....out of time. We took much to long plaining the prison entry that we ran out of time at the end. My character did get a fairy cures out of it.

I'll follow up later with part two that contains the final game and talks about some of the announcements that were shown to us at The Grand Masquerade.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

The Grand Masquerade

In September I will be going to my first gaming convention White Wolf's The Grand Masquerade. If nothing else it should be an experience. One of the things I'm looking forward to is finally playing some Vampire the Masquerade(VtM) and Dark Ages(VtDA/DAV) table top games. Collectively I refer to them as VtX. Hey if it works for algebra then it can work for acronyms as well. The game can be a lot of fun, but with the right group of friends a lot of games can be. There is one major problem the game suffers from and it is the reason I don't get to play it much. The problem isn't with the game itself it is with some of the preconceived notions that people bring to the game.

The first seems to stem from the idea that if it drinks blood then it is evil. In most cases it isn't a moral objection just that they don't see how they could play an evil character. From the VtM perspective it doesn't say drinking blood is evil. It says Vampires have problems and how they deal with them is what makes them evil or not. At its base a vampire is nothing more than a supernatural hemophiliac. It has within it the supernatural desire to feed and that desire if not kept in check leads to killing. It isn't required that they kill however and yet some people come with the impression it has to be so they don't want to play.

The second is that all vampires must be sexual creatures. Again this is a preconception that people bring to the game and not of the game itself. Popular media has moved more toward portraying vampires and the drinking of blood as erotic. While it can be played that way again that isn't the focus of what VtX was trying to be. In fact for the most part Kindred(what VtX calls vampires) do not care about sex and while drinking blood is a pleasure for them it does not require acting it out. It isn't about erotic fantasy it is about a creature that requires blood to survive and how it handles that.

At its core VtX tries to be what all table top games try to be and that is what the Storyteller and the players make of it. It leans a little to the political, but is setup for a more combative experience as well. Though in that respect it is more harsh than games like D&D were at mid and high level characters have hoard of hit points and spells can do massive damage that characters can still walk away from. If you can get past the preconceived notions it can be a wonderful game with the right group of people.

So tGM among other things is going to be my chance to play again. If you are already going to The Grand Masquerade and want to play a table top game then The Wrecking Crew, the senior White Wolf Demo team, will be hosting several games. They are not limited to only Vampire games nor OWoD(Old World of Darkness), but WtA and NWoD as well. Information about the games and how to sign up can be found here: http://forums.white-wolf.com/cs/forums/t/29552.aspx?PageIndex=1http://forums.white-wolf.com/cs/forums/t/29552.aspx?PageIndex=1. If you are interested sign up as it should be fun. :[

Friday, July 9, 2010

Kindle books falling to the wayside? (Part 2)

So I finally got a firm responce from both parties so I was able to send some form of what they sent to me to each other.

St. Martin said:
"Amazon has not given us a release date for the Kindle version, so I’m afraid I do not know. Amazon converts and distributes all Kindle books independently, so you may want to be in touch with them? I’m sorry I can’t be more helpful, but Kindle is Amazon’s territory."

And Amazon said:

"Bound By Sin" by Jenna Maclaine isn't currently available for Kindle. At this time we don't have further information about availability of this book in Kindle compatible format. When publisher provides the book in Kindle format, we'll list Kindle books for pre-order so you get them delivered wirelessly when released.

Your direct feedback to the publisher is helpful.

You may see a link labeled "Please tell the publisher: I'd like to read this book on Kindle" directly below the product image on some book detail pages"

My only hope is that I can get them to say that to each other so they can figure out who needs to do what.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Kindle books falling to the wayside? (Macmillan vs Amazon)

So now that the whole Macmillan vs Amazon debacle seems to be over it seems there may be a few casualties of war in the whole process. Well besides the fact that customers often have to pay half again more than before. When looking into a book, Bound By Sin by Jenna Maclaine(think Period Urban Fantasy with Vampires), I've wished to read for quite some time it turns out that there actually should be a Kindle version, but there isn't one listed. Macmillan(St. Martin's Press in this instance) says they sent it and Amazon says they don't have it. I would think that would be a problem they might want to fix. That whole selling more books and making more money thing. The only problem is the book continues not to be listed with a Kindle version and neither Amazon nor St. Martin's seem to be doing anything about it.

It would also seem more than likely that several of these other titles people have been waiting for(and talking about) could be having the same problems. So I'm just giving out an FYI and suggesting that we all write both Macmillan (St. Martin's division for this book: trademarketing@stmartins.com) and Amazon (Kindle Customer Service form) telling them which book we want and the fact that we want our Kindle books now. :)

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Canned responces

While it is understandable that a certain amount of canned responses can be important. For instance lets say, I don't know, someone decides to post it on their blog? I don't have a problem with that and wouldn't have taken the time to post. However, those that do not apply to a conversation just lowers peoples opinion of a company. For me it makes me that much more likely I will not do business with you.

That said I wanted to share a responce to an email I received when inquiring about the return of my PS3 if I sent it to Sony for repair. There are several reason why I wanted a guarantee of my unit back if it couldn't be fixed. This is a known issue and commonly fixed by simply replacing the Blu-Ray Drive. My PS3 is the 60gb model with the Emotion Engine which allows it to play PS2 games without software emulation, I know all other parts of the PS3 are in good working order, I have no heat problems, etc. Basically I know the quality of the unit I'm sending in. If they send me a refurbished one I do not know the quality of the unit I get back. There are a few other considerations as well. One such consideration is how close do they consider the same model? Could I possibly get back a 60gb that used the software emulation instead if they don't have any with the chip? Any way here is the conversation my name and the tech's name has been removed because you don't need to know them. Also each set and the whole conversation reads from bottom to top with each but the first having my question and then the tech's answer. Switched it so it reads correctly in odrer.

Customer 05/04/2010 07:48 AM
Ineed to send my PS3 in for repair as it will no longer read disks. I have the original 60gb model with the Emotion Engine in it and whether you can repaired it or not I want my original PS3 back. I have heard that sometimes instead of sending the original back a refurbished one could be sent instead. My question is that is there any way to insure I get my original PS3 back?
Response (Tech's Name) 05/04/2010 09:52 AM
Hello MyName,

We apologize for the inconvenience regarding your system's difficulty reading media.

It seems as though your PLAYSTATION(R)3 computer entertainment system may need to be serviced. You may submit your own Exchange Order using our Self Service Exchange for quick and easy processing on the Internet. Please visit our Online Service Request page for more information. After you fill out the form, we will send you a shipping box from UPS within 5 to 10 business days. Our current turn around time for the service is 8 to 12 business days from the time we receive the system. If your system can't be repaired, it will be exchanged for the same model system. Your serviced system will have a 90 day warranty which starts the day you received it. We do not offer any extended warranties.

If you have not done so, please try the following troubleshooting steps. We have found that they have often corrected issues such as yours:

* Please be sure to try the disc(s) on another PLAYSTATION(R)3 computer entertainment system. If the disc(s) does not work on another system, then there is most likely a problem with the software, not the console.

* Please confirm that the disc is clean. We recommend using a CD wipe to clean the disc. Please remember to wipe from the center of the disc to the outside in a straight line. Avoids wiping in a circular motion as this may cause scratches on the disc.

* Try playing different CDs, DVDs, and games on the PLAYSTATION 3 console to see if the problem exists across multiple discs.


Tech's Name

Customer MyName 05/04/2010 10:11 AM
So what you are saying is I cannot guarantee the return of my original system?
;">Response (Tech's Name) 05/04/2010 11:13 AM
Hello MyName,

Thank you for writing us regarding servicing your system. If your system can't be repaired, it will be exchanged for the same model system.

Tech's Name

;">Customer MyName 05/04/2010 12:11 PM
Thank you. Since it is no longer under warranty I guess I'll just go through a 3rd party to insure I get my console back.
Response (Tech's Name) 05/04/2010 12:19 PM
Hello MyName,

Thank you for writing us with your kind words. Your feedback lets us know that we are on target. Again, we appreciate you taking the time to write us with your comments and really appreciate your support.

Tech's Name
[End Quote]

It really puts me off especially when the canned responces have no bearing on the conversation.  And really to say "Your feedback lets us know that we are on target." when it is more like they are not even shooting in the right direction.

Edit: Note that blogger can sometimes be difficult in trying to get it to format they way you want rather than how it wants.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Reviews (Part 2)

Originally I was going to move on to the positive things in a book that would help me decide to choose it, but I feel a little more about reviews themselves should be brought up.  While I'm sure that I am not the best at writing reviews I know what I need in order for a review to have meaning.  So here is my list of 9 review do and do nots.

1)  Never start a review with "I never do reviews, but just had to for this book".  That really doesn't add more weight to your words.  The fact you have never bothered to write a review more than likely simply means you shouldn't have written this one either.  This is different than one just being your first review instead.  We all have first, but there is a big difference between your first review and saying you had to for THIS book.  Even if I did believe you it wouldn't make a single difference in my decision.

2)  One of the worst things to say in a review is "I don't want to reveal the plot so I'm not going to talk about it".  This simply means you are not going to tell the reader anything that will help them to make a decision.  That is sort of the point of a review to give the person interested in the book enough information (without too much) so they can make an informed decision of whether they might like to purchase it or not.

3) Interject some actual meaning into what you say.  I mentioned this before, but if you take twenty paragraphs and actually say nothing then it isn't a review.  Comments like "if you like fantasy books you will like this one" or "the imagery was amazing" mean next to nothing.  The first is pure opinion and gives the reader no basis on which to help make a decision.  It is great you think because someone likes on fantasy book they will like another, but that generally isn't the case.  The problem with the second it has no substance.  What kind of imagery and how was it amazing are more important than the fact you thought it was amazing.

4) You are writing a review not auditioning to write Blurbs for the back of books.  A good review is going to consist of more than a hundred words.  Usually this will fill up quickly if you follow the previous step and actually interject some actual meaning into what you say.  Still it is quite possible to add meaning and still only come out with a Blurb.  The difference is in the amount so here I mean that you should say something and before the idea is to make what you said meaningful.  Also, paraphrasing the synopsis isn't a review it is simply lazy.

5) Using your word-a-day dictionary will not only prevent you from sounding as sophisticated as some people seem to want to appear, but also points back right the previous in that you may not actually be interjecting any meaning it to what you are saying.  It is great that you might know words like "hyperbole", "symmetry", "overwrought", "analogy", "simile", etc.  The problem is these are generic descriptors and have no depth of meaning if you don't add actual context.  How is the author's use of hyperbole meaningful?  If they simply use things like "The bodies piled around him were so high as to almost touch the ceiling" or use of simile in "His punch made me feel like I got hit with a ton of bricks" then while in context they have meaning this doesn't mean the author is the master of hyperbole and simile.  If you are going to make such a comment as the author uses hyperbole then again make your comments have meaning.  This could be something as simple as an actual line from the book showing your example.

6) In a multiple review environment you should have more to your review then the last person.  This is about quality not quantity.  If you say the exact same thing or paraphrase the last person then you are wasting your time and others.  It would be more meaningful simply to say look at this persons review instead.  That isn't to say you can't agree with them and mention some of the same points, but you should have more to your review than that.  You can mention that your review is in addition to another one if you feel what they said summed it up well.  This would then leave you room to spend time on giving more information rather than rehashing what has been said.

I found 45 reviews of a book I was interesting in reading.  One manage to tell me two things more than the synopsis and the other 44 managed to say the same thing as that one review.  The sad fact is that still not a single one of them managed to tell me anything really significant about the book.  One example of what would be nice to know is that very few books are actually only about one person so if there are significant supporting characters they should be mentioned as well as their relationship to the main character.

7) If a plot point makes you uncomfortable then mention it even if you have to be vague.  If something really put you off or if something made you give 4 stars out of 5 then it could be something someone else might not buy a book over.  You might also say if you are aware of something that might offend others even if it doesn't offend you then it would be nice to mention it.

8) A review is often about the quality of the whole not just part of it.  The meaning to this is with ebook versions sometimes done haphazardly it could have actually text problems.  I've seen tilted pages words from one sentence appearing halfway down the page, and whole pages missing.  Some feel that to give a low review for this isn't acceptable which sadly isn't the case unless you can rate them separately.  A review is everything about a work and you can mention that the quality of the overall finished product isn't up to the quality of the writing, but by not mentioning and rating accordingly you are doing a disservice to everyone.  If substandard is acceptable what is the point in doing it better?

9) Some people like spoilers and some do not so note when you put spoilers in a review.  Personally I have no problem with spoilers and there have been many books I would not have purchased if I could have found spoilers about them.  However we should understand that others might feel differently so while you can add spoilers to your review (please do) note them so others are not put off by it.

Remember while you may have your various reasons for writing a review the reason most people read them is so they can have a better understanding of something they are interested in buying.  Whether it is a book, movie, or a power tool the end results are the same so being thoughtful and informative are the most important things.  Should these 9 rules be the absolutes of review writing?  No, that isn't what I'm trying to say.  Everyone is going to have their variations on the formula to a perfect review and some of their points might be even more valid than what I listed here.  Still these hit those things that will make a review worth while to those that are looking for help making a decision on what to read rather than more wasted space one has to bypass while looking for that help.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Penguin Kindle Ebooks Canceled?

I wouldn't normally post new-ish information, but since as of yet I can't find anything about this. When it comes to news I tend to ask my version of the 5 W's Why, Why, Why (you get the idea). I hoped in passing this along that perhaps I might see if anyone has hear any factual information about what is happening. It seems that perhaps the price tug of war between Amazon and Publishers isn't over. Several people (I being one of them) had various Penguin ebooks on order from Amazon that have suddenly been canceled and the Kindle versions removed from the store. I'm waiting to hear back from Amazon and will pass along anything I hear. I hope anyone else that might read this would do the same if they happen to hear anything.

Comments enabled

I actually did this last night, but decide to mention that I've enabled posting comments. I decided that if someone wanted to tell me off for my opinion I would actually like to hear from them about it. Not to sound masochistic as I much prefer glowing praise, but I admit to being a pessimist so I know what kind of comments I'll get. :P

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Things that I feel a review needs to let you know. Part 1 (the bad)

This is in continuation of the reviews post an not a part of the Talion post.  Also I would first like to say that in this overly sensitive day I hope that no one takes offense at this blog post.  We must understand that there is a difference between a preference and discrimination.  A preference is just the fact that an individual likes or dislikes something over another thing.  Some people like hot over cold, chocolate over vanilla, and broccoli over cheese.  In the context of preference, discrimination is treating someone different because of their preference.  I hope people understand that any comments made here are simply my preference and I hold nothing against others because of them if they are or were in any example listed here.  Other comments here I believe most will agree with me when I show my dislike for practices that are illegal in most places.  While writing about them can have some value that doesn't mean I wish to read about them.  I trust that people will be adult enough to know the difference between preference and not see it as discrimination or bigotry.  So on to information I would like to know about from a review before I read a book.

For example while I have no problem with alternative life styles and have had friends in the past that had such a relationship I personally don't want to read the details of it.  There a few books that handled this with simply an allusion to such a relationship for plot reasons rather than trying for what I assume was some type of shock value from others.  Attempting to create a situation that they could later claim was a means to show how open minded they can be.  There is a difference in a book that uses the relationship for a honest plot.  Such a book when written for people that do not live such a life style needs only to mention such a relationship.  When a book is written for people that do not live such a life style instead uses multiple quick descriptions is looking for shock value and I find that in poor taste.  If a book is written for such a life style then it is know for that and I can avoid it.

Another problem I had with one book was the use of lame plot devices simply to have multiple sex scenes within a book. If you have two protagonists that are unsure if they actually like each other or not, don't have them instead go sleep with someone else because they are unsure if they are being forced into loving someone (one book) or because the two can't confront their possible feelings for each other.  While someone might make such a decision I find it in poor taste to continue to keep writing scenes for erotica value in ignorance of the actual plot.  In a book where the plot is truly supported by such a notion it would at least treat the situation with a little class.  It still wouldn't be the type of book for me, but would be expected and easily avoided.  I think a lot of stories could suffer to understand they are not Hollywood and don't need a sex scene in every book and actually take the time to make an actually compelling story instead.  Some of the best, most widely loved books don't have a single sex scene and have relationships adult enough they don't feel they have to run out and sleep with someone else.  Now don't get me wrong I'm not a prude.  I've read several books that have had sex in them where it was used to show a deep physical and emotional relationship, which was still a rocky one, and yet did not feel the need have the character go sleep with someone else.

One more hitch on my list is books that use what I call SWS or Sadistic Writer Syndrome. I find SWS to be a common new disease among writers now days. This is where the writer feels they have to do horrible things to their characters in order "to show how horrible real life can be".  These are not biographies we are talking about but Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Paranormal, Urban Fantasy types of books.  While bad things are going to happen in a book taking it to sadistic levels is too much.  Yes we are talking about people that do not exist, but at what point is needless sadism ever acceptable.  The description of pain to an individual for no other reason than that pain is sadism whether it is in your imagination or not.

Finally, while you could lump this in with sadism because it really is I still wanted to give the topic its own point.  Having your characters raped or even just continually almost raped is in poor taste.  While attempting to give the reader, who may be invested in the character, some dramatic tension could be warranted the act itself is extremely distasteful.  A plot tastefully done where this happens once as a central core to such a plot can be understandable.  To simply continue to do or almost do such a thing over and over can serve no purpose.

So these are the things that I feel should really be mentioned in a review.  While I've given my views on why, others may agree that they should be mentioned but for wholly different reasons.  Also, while I give an often extreme example of some of these events in books that isn't to say that any time they are used they are not tastefully handled and in such a way that others my prefer to have them take place in a book.  However, the point of a review is to give people information that helps them make a decision on whether it would be a book they wish to read or not.  You don't have to give your opinion of such events, but as you can see for some it can be important information in their decision and it would be helpful to at least make mention of them.  Next time I'll be a little more on the positive side of those things I would like to know about in a review.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Talion: Revenant

(Added Kindle Link)

So we interrupt our previously scheduled posts (scheduled is all a matter of perspective) in favor of some news near and dear to my book loving heart (promiscuity between many books is socially acceptable right?).  One of my favorite authors Michael A. Stackpole (one as in yes I do have many and favorite as in I don't have favorites for the moment, but favorite from the fact I've enjoyed every book of theirs I've read) is releasing his book Talion: Revenant in eformat both epub and kindle (which I'll link when it is up).  This is great for me in that I take my kindle everywhere and since I have enjoyed reading Talion: Revenant multiple times it makes it easier to do so again.  You can find some good reviews (good as in well done whether for or against the book) here on amazon.  The best news however is that if all goes well with ebook sales (epub and kindle) of this book he will finally write and release the sequel Talion: Nemesis.

(note: does contain vary vague spoilers)
Talion: Revenant at first seems quite simple it is about a man by the name of Nolan who is a Talion Justice.  The Talions are the broken into various groups according to the tasks they can perform.  One such group is the Justice, an elite group of individuals that work as a sort of cross between an elite military group (Rangers/Seals/etc) and the CIA.  It is their job to administer Justice and it is up to each individual what that Justice means.  They are answerable only to their superiors and the head of the Talions.

The book starts off at the end of his current assignment, but then quickly goes back to give us a back story of both Nolan and the Talions.  The transitions between present and past are well done so I never felt lost.  A lot is revealed of Nolan's back story and his motivations for why he does what he does.  There are many likable characters which also sets up for some tragic parts within the story.  That is one thing that did make this approach of present and past much more acceptable in this story because you are given time to know the current situation so that such tragedies are a part of this persons past and make them what they.  It gives more of a meaning to such tragedies rather than the author instead throwing them at the reader for shock value.  It gave me at least the more comfortable position of looking at old wounds so to speak.  The more current of the story his is mission to prevent the death of a king he despises due to his invasion of the country Nolan lived in as a child and the death of his family at the hands of those invaders.

I have to say over all the book is extremely well done and comes off as a solid history of the character and how he stands now.  There were many little reveals that setup well for future stories both in subtle hints as well as outright prophesies.  Which brings it back to the sequel (or maybe sequels) and how much many of us that enjoyed the book really want this to do well.  Over the long hall Talion: Revenant has done well in sales, but never enough for a publisher to pick up any additional books.  Understandably the author can't just blindly spend his time on it in the hopes it will do well as he is a full time author so all his money comes from his writing.  It is a good way to measure also how many sales such a sequel may generate.  Here is to hoping that it does well and he can write the sequel.  I know that I'll be supporting this as I can.  It isn't from the blind devotion of fandom, but the actual joy of reading more about this setting and its characters.  I hope that those of you reading this might give the first book a try I think it is well worth the while.

Friday, March 26, 2010


I find that there are often problems with peoples conception of what a review is. That isn't to say I'm the perfect person to do reviews just that I don't feel it is necessary to verbally harm people over one. That seems to be the norm for people now.  The definition of a review as it applies to works is defined by Merriam-Webster as:

"6 a : a critical evaluation (as of a book or play)"
The thing to remember is that an evaluation does not exclude ones opinion of something. It is simply a break down of the pros and cons to something.  Which is someone's opinion.  Too many people say you shouldn't have your opinion in a review. They fail to realize that for instance if you are talking about a book a review of a book without someone's opinion of it is nothing more than a synopsis. Most books have one on the back and I would then suggest reading it rather than a review. Also the worth of a review is how often you agree or disagree with some ones opinion of a type of work. When I was young I knew that if both Siskel and Ebert liked a movie then I would hate it. I loved their reviews because I could determine what was worth my time even if there was a negative review. As long as they actually explain why the liked or disliked the work the a review can be helpful. You don't have to agree with someone for it to be a good review even if they rated something you liked poorly.

The other problem I have people can be a little to vague in their review in an attempt to avoid spoilers. The problem is that if you say nothing and make only flowery speeches then it isn't a review. One could say "There is an interesting dichotomy between the Empire and the Rebels" when it comes to Star Wars. However that is more relevant to a word-a-day calendar than to reviewing the movie. I would say currently you are very lucky if people are even that direct about what they are reviewing. That isn't to say there is no one good at writing reviews out there, because there are. It is more that in this day where everyone can say something often all they say is "something" which says nothing. :)

Some of the worst reviews are about books. If all you have to say is some variation of what is the synopsis of a book then it is best not to say anything at all. I don't know how many times I've read a review that was nothing more than rewording the synopsis. I don't know the reason behind it other than maybe an attempt to feel learned or just unable to speak with their own words. What ever the reason it is unhelpful because you can just read the back of a book just as easily.

So what is the perfect review to me? First, it should have substance if you liked it say what you like the relationship between one character and another or that if it seems forced then why. If it is simply one action that prevents you from being able to finish a book then warn about spoilers and explain the situation. The point is if you say nothing in your review how are you doing the book or yourself justice?  There could be people that would really like to read a book and your review because it is vague prevents this or encourages someone to buy the item even though they are actually going to end up disappointed in it.

Next time I'll talk about my pet peeves in books and the things I wish people would have mentioned in there reviews so I could have skipped them.

(Update: The follow up to this can be found here: http://sorwen.blogspot.com/2010/04/things-that-i-feel-review-needs-to-let.html)

Friday, March 12, 2010


So, I thought to myself it has been awhile and I should make a twitter post just to do so. The thing is with these social sites I often don't have a lot to say. Most of the time I'm not a talkative person. I don't feel the need to share most of the time. There some things I talk about as more of a warning or a hey look what this person did. My opinion on something rather than my opinion on myself. So when trying to come up with anything to say I thought about the word profound.

Main Entry: pro·found
Function: adjective
Etymology: Middle English, from Anglo-French parfunt, profond deep, from Latin profundus, from pro- before + fundus bottom — more at pro-, bottom
Date: 14th century
1 a : having intellectual depth and insight b : difficult to fathom or understand
2 a : extending far below the surface b : coming from, reaching to, or situated at a depth : deep-seated <a profound sigh>
3 a : characterized by intensity of feeling or quality b : all encompassing : complete <profound sleep> <profound deafness>

Often when most people talk on these blogs or something like twitter we are trying to do one of two things. Either we are trying to convey something or gain something. An individual may want to convey their feelings in general or about feelings about something (including themselves). Then there is gain where the individual wants to gain readers so he knows what he conveys reaches someone or a group/company is trying to gain an opportunity (generally an opportunity to gain money).

So why the word profound? It is just that like with what I'm saying here there may be the hidden hope that in some way what is said ends up profound. Either an attempt to prove that the individual writing has their own hidden depths or maybe that a chance comment might spark something profound in someone else. Even better that the words will create a feeling and that feeling will lead someone to come back again or to look at what the writer is trying to sell them. Not necessarily a monetary sale, perhaps rather sell them an idea.

Do I hope I'm being profound? Maybe if I'm honest I would say a little. I'm not honest with myself at least so I'll lie to me and say "no I'm not". :) I refuse to be profound on sheer principle. I did however manage to finally say something so the word wasn't pointless.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Star Trek Online

I know I'm going to hate myself for this, but I went ahead and bought the lifetime subscription to Star Trek Online (before the dead line for the cheaper price). The reason I was worried about spending the money was I had already done the same with Cryptic's other game Champions Online. A game which they continue to make most of the power combinations unplayable. There are so many "must have" powers that I don't understand the point of giving us a choice. Still I gave in to the silent peer pressure (my friends said nothing other than they were playing) and bought the lifetime. The only bright side is so far they haven't royally mess the game up....yet.

Currently it is a fun game, though the missions can be some what repetitive. WoW had what I called the "Do 10s". Go kill 10 of these, collect 10 of these, go get this glowy and on the way kill 10 of these, etc. STO has a few too many "Do 5s" as in go kill 5 patrols of X aliens. Still there are some nifty missions that tie back to the old show. They have also made the Cruiser (Enterprise type of ships) more playable and here is to hoping the continue so. It isn't a horrible game and if they every have a free trial I would suggest checking it out. With lifetimes only available to preorder customers there is the sense of get it now or miss out. Still it is just a hold over till the Old Republic from BioWare.