The State of the Reader: 2/28/18

<–The State of the Reader: 2/14/18          The State of the Reader: 3/14/18–>

weekly post updated every other Wednesday detailing my current reading projects and what new titles I’ve added to my to-read list.  Title links go to Goodreads, and if you have an account there feel free to friend me!  I’d love to see what you’re reading and/or planning to read.

Books Purchased: 1

Finished: 3

Title: The Diamond of Darkhold
Series Title: The Book of Ember
Author: Jeanne DuPrau
Date Added: September 17, 2017
Date Started: January 14, 2018
Date Finished: February 19, 2018
Reading Duration: 36 days

The cover of The Diamond of Darkhold by Jeanne DuPrauMedia: Paperback

It wasn’t as good as the first or second book, but it was better than the prequel The Prophet of Yonwood.  What diminished it was the ending where the author just pulled something completely out of left field, and it was a space flea out of nowhere, though she did try to set it up earlier, but there just wasn’t enough.  It’s possible I missed something from Prophet, since I didn’t read that, but even so, it’s completely unnecessary to the series as a whole.  I’ll obviously be discussing it when I do my review.

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The State of the Writer: 2/25/18

<–The State of the Writer: 2/11/18          The State of the Writer: 3/11/18–>

A biweekly post updated every Sunday discussing my current writing projects and any completed the prior two weeks.

Finished Projects: 4

  1. Final Fantasy A Crystal Compendium: The Malevolence of Seraphim and Generals – An FFVII and FFVI Comparative – 2/16/18
  2. Final Fantasy A Crystal Compendium – Final Fantasy Friday: Final Fantasy III Review – 2/16/18
  3. An Unattractive Vampire by Jim McDoniel – 2/17/18
  4. A Torch Against the Night by Sabaa Tahir (An Ember in the Ashes #2) – 2/24/18

Project: Story
The Broken Rose
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Type: Fanfiction (FFVII) Novel
Current Word Count: 261,397
Prior Word Count: 261,484
Word Difference: -87
Status: Revising
Progress: Finished Chapter 2

Sephiroth with sword and wing standing in front of the Planet or Meteor

Some awesome person sent me this as a sticker

I finished the review of Chapter 2 last night.  This weekend has been really productive, and I’m hoping I can keep the momentum up during the week.

In Progress

  • Audio Recording – I decided to scrap my recording for The Malevolence of Seraphim and Generals, which I was working on over the past month.  I did record the parts for both Kefka and Sephiroth, but I ran into a hiccup on how to record the third part, since it mostly concerns my analysis of YouTube videos related to the topic.  I may still edit and post what I have at some point, possibly recording the conclusion, but for now I’m going to (finally) move onto my Northern Lights recording project starting this Tuesday.  My plan is to record, edit, and post one chapter at a time, and I’m super excited to see how that will turn out.  It’ll give me the opportunity to not only utilize the premium functions on WordPress if I so desire, but also start using my YouTube channel more, so stay tuned!
  • Games Alive – If you were quick the other day, you might have caught me accidentally posting the draft of this.  It’s the “games for every year I’ve been alive” post.  In fact someone retweeted it lol.  Oh dear :p  I’ve finished compiling the list and am in the process of drafting the post.  Hopefully I’ll be finished before the end of this week and I can go back to working on my game reviews.
  • Rakuen Review – Once Games Alive is posted, I’ll complete and share this poignant review.

I’ve been dancing…a lot.  Not sure what this has to do with the State of the Writer, but the endorphins are putting me in a better mood even if I can’t breathe, my calf muscles hurt, and my heart is kind of wonky.  I’m hoping I don’t hear back from my cardiologist saying, “You have heart cancer!” or something like that.  Anyway, what projects have you been working on?  That are obviously not top secret.  I have a blogger award that’s a bit on the hush hush, and hopefully you’ll see why soon 😉

<–The State of the Writer: 2/11/18          The State of the Writer: 3/11/18–>

A Torch Against the Night by Sabaa Tahir (An Ember in the Ashes #2)

An Ember in the Ashes

<–An Ember in the Ashes                                                                               A Reaper at the Gates–>

Title: A Torch Against the Night
Series: An Ember in the Ashes
Author: Sabaa Tahir
Date Added: June 7, 2017
Date Started: July 12, 2017
Date Ended: August 23, 2017
Reading Duration: 42 days
Genre: Fantasy, Dystopian, Young Adult (YA), Romance

The cover of A Torch Against the Night by Sabaa TahirPages: 452
Publication Date: August 30, 2016
Publisher: Razorbill
Media: Paperback

Elias and Laia are running for their lives. After the events of the Fourth Trial, Martial soldiers hunt the two fugitives as they flee the city of Serra and undertake a perilous journey through the heart of the Empire.

Laia is determined to break into Kauf—the Empire’s most secure and dangerous prison—to save her brother, who is the key to the Scholars’ survival. And Elias is determined to help Laia succeed, even if it means giving up his last chance at freedom.

But dark forces, human and otherworldly, work against Laia and Elias. The pair must fight every step of the way to outsmart their enemies: the bloodthirsty Emperor Marcus, the merciless Commandant, the sadistic Warden of Kauf, and, most heartbreaking of all, Helene—Elias’s former friend and the Empire’s newest Blood Shrike.

Bound to Marcus’s will, Helene faces a torturous mission of her own—one that might destroy her: find the traitor Elias Veturius and the Scholar slave who helped him escape…and kill them both.

“So long as you fight the darkness,
You stand in the light.”

The second installment of Elias and Laia’s saga is just as compelling as the first.  The stakes are even higher, the perils more vast, and not even once believed allies can be trusted.  The soldier and the scholar are joined in their point of view chapters by Helene, whose duties as Blood Shrike threaten to rip her apart as they cannot coexist with her loyalties to her once best friend and brother-in-arms.

While there are love entanglements in this series, they in no way diminish the narrative nor seem shoehorned in for the sake of its YA status.  Laia develops feelings for Keenan due to their mutual goals in the resistance, while Elias and Helene have always had their odd relationship due to being friends forever behind their Masks.  Oddly the strongest bond is the most star-crossed in Elias and Laia, which forces Helene to acknowledge her feelings for him in dealing with her jealousy.

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The State of the Gamer: 2/20/18

<–The State of the Gamer: 2/6/18            The State of the Gamer: 3/6/18–>

A weekly post updated every other Tuesday detailing my current gaming projects.  I have an account at Grouvee, which is a site you can use to keep track of your backlog, so please feel free to friend me there!

What I Played

Nintendo Switch

Title: Super Mario Odyssey
Series: Super Mario
Genre: Platformer/Puzzle – Adventure
Developer: Nintendo
Release Date: October 27, 2017
Date Started: October 29, 2017
Date Finished: January 27, 2018

I played a tiny bit of this, picked up a few more moons, but I think I’m done with it for now.  A lot of the after game moons are beyond my skill level (owing to what I saw Olizandri do), and I’m pretty satisfied with what I’ve played and seen so far.

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An Unattractive Vampire by Jim McDoniel

TitleAn Unattractive Vampire
Author: Jim McDoniel
Date Started: July 27, 2017
Date Finished: August 22, 2017
Reading Duration: 26 days
Genre: Fantasy, Urban Fantasy, Paranormal, Humor/Satire

The cover of An Unattractive Vampire by Jim McDonielPages: 309
Publication Date: March 1, 2016
Publisher: Sword & Laser
Media: eBook/Kindle

Jim McDoniel’s debut novel, An Unattractive Vampire, is a darkly comic urban fantasy of ancient horrors in suburban cities. After three centuries trapped underground, thousand-year-old Yulric Bile—also known as the Curséd One, the Devil’s Apprentice, He Who Worships the Slumbering Horrors—awakens only to find that no one believes he is a vampire. Apparently he’s just too ugly—modern vampires, he soon discovers, are pretty, weak, and, most disturbing of all, good. Determined to reestablish his bloodstained reign, Yulric sets out to correct this disgusting turn of events or, at the very least, murder the person responsible. With the help of pert vampire-wannabe Amanda; Simon, the eight-year-old reincarnation of his greatest foe; and a cadre of ancient and ugly horrors, Yulric prepares to battle the glamorous undead. But who will win the right to determine, once and for all, what it truly means to be a vampire?

An Unattractive Vampire begins as a cleverly tongue-in-cheek novel with a similar silliness and satire to The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, seamlessly steering your sympathies towards an unholy monster and its last remaining followers.  A subversion of a subversion, the story takes the new(ish) idea of the beautiful, more modern vampires and makes it absurd with the introduction of the Nosferatu-like Yulric Bile, who’s been entombed beneath a garishly pink painted house for 300 years.   Of course in looking at the history of vampires, the beautiful types are absurd, as well (from a historical point of view), but when a paradigm exists for a while it becomes the norm, so the idea of an ugly vampire is not only outlandish, but also obscene.

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Final Fantasy Friday – A Crystal Compendium

Final Fantasy Friday

Today’s Final Fantasy Friday is brought to you by a massive amount of work put in in by over a dozen bloggers.  A labor of love that started around September of 2017 finally come to fruition.  I am overjoyed and humbled to be a part of it, and because I posted (or reposted) two Final Fantasy articles for today, I think they are more than adequate.  The central hub can be found here, so please make sure you check out the articles from other talented bloggers!

Final Fantasy A Crystal Compendium – Final Fantasy Friday: Final Fantasy III Review

This article is part of a community-wide project about Final Fantasy. Links to other articles in this series, written by the other contributors can be found in the main hub area.

Final Fantasy Reviews

<–Final Fantasy II Review                                           Final Fantasy IV Review–>

This is the part of a long-term project to play and review/analyze all the Final Fantasy games.  Whenever possible, I will play the original version, but in cases where it’s not available and/or there are time constraints, I’ll use a port and/or watch a Let’s Play, both of which contingencies will be indicated in the review.  Ideally, I will attempt to play a portion so that I can remark more accurately on the gameplay experience.  These will be long-form reviews with detailed plot analyses, so please be wary if you do not want spoilers.

Greetings, salutations and Happy New Year to you all.  I am slowly working my way through the Final Fantasy titles and have recently completed the third installment.  I have been giving much thought to going back and playing the re-releases of I and II especially since I received a $200 Best Buy gift card in addition to a $50 Amazon one and could conceivably purchase both the system I might need and the games, but I’m still in the thinking phase, and today I’m in the review one for III.

Final Fantasy III cover

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The Malevolence of Seraphim and Generals – An FFVI & FFVII Comparative

What makes a great villain? Is it someone who achieves their nefarious goals; is it someone whose affect on the hero is life shattering; or is it someone whose motivations, no matter how dark, make you question your own?  The biggest point of contention between Final Fantasy VI and Final Fantasy VII often culminates upon this vital question. Proponents of VI readily point to Kefka succeeding in his goal for world destruction and godhood (neither of which Sephiroth ever achieves) as proof he is the apex antagonist,  but the determination of success in one case and failure in the other isn’t that simple, and there are far more factors at play.

Fans of the Final Fantasy franchise are often at sixes and sevens with each other, and the arguments often grow vehement even amongst the most amiable crowd.  The series is known for its in depth and intricate plots, which incite passion within introspective minds.  Both FFVI and FFVII are revolutionary in their own way: VI for the seeming victory of the villain and VII for killing off a beloved character whose death still resonates today.  For the former’s case, the heroes usually arrive just in time to stop the villain from what Kefka succeeds in accomplishing, and the same could be said for Sephiroth in regards to Aeris.  With Kefka, though, his supporters insist that his goal was to destroy the world and achieve apotheosis, which he does…for a time.  It is still more than Sephiroth manages, but is such an accomplishment enough to name Kefka the greater malevolence?  Before this can be answered, we have to look at the characters themselves.

Kefka Palazzo

“Some men just want to watch the world burn…
-The Dark Knight

But for the Joker with whom he shares numerous maniacal traits (and by whom he was certainly inspired), Kefka would surely be the paragon of the “psycho clown” motif, as he is lovingly dubbed by his fans.  He stands out among Final Fantasy antagonists as the one true villain with no real doubt or debate.  Kefka is unequivocally evil with a dark sense of humor and one-liners even the greatest comedians would envy.  Though Emperor Gestahl initially takes the role of “front man” as the leader of a despotic regime, it is obvious from the instant his sprite graces the screen that Kefka will be the last battle before the curtain falls.  He owns the role of psychopath from the moment you see him until his final form fades.  Final Fantasy VI is far more straightforward in this regard than both the games that follow it and those that come before.

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The State of the Reader: 2/14/18

<–The State of the Reader: 1/31/18          The State of the Reader: 2/28/18–>

weekly post updated every other Wednesday detailing my current reading projects and what new titles I’ve added to my to-read list.  Title links go to Goodreads, and if you have an account there feel free to friend me!  I’d love to see what you’re reading and/or planning to read.

Books Purchased: 1

Books DNF: 1

  • Shadow Stalker Part 1 by Renee Scattergood – I knew the main character was going to be a “chosen one” paradigm, and I’m fine with that, but after finishing the first part, I’m going to leave it there.  I think what got under my skin was her foster father/trainer told her she can’t stop him when he messes with her mind to calm her down, and that really rubs me the wrong way.  Mental meddling is an invasion, and if someone doesn’t want you to do it then you respect that.  Also the fact that he’s been doing it her entire life without telling her (leaving her to figure it out) bugs me, too.  I get why he’s doing it, but it’s still troublesome.  There was a character named Sephir, so…that was pretty cool.

Finished: 2

Title: Saga, Vol. 8
Series: Saga
Author: Brian K. Vaughn
Illustrator: Fiona Staples
Date Added: July 2, 2017
Date Started: February 4, 2018
Date Finished: February 8, 2018
Reading Duration: 4 days

The cover of Saga, Vol. 8 by Brian K. Vaughn & Fiona StaplesMedia: Paperback

Do you even have to ask if it was good at this point?  Saga is quite possibly the best graphic novel series I’ve ever read.  It’s amazing how something that can take place in space involving aliens can be so “human” and relatable.  The ending to this volume is almost literally the polar opposite to the ending of 7.

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The State of the Writer: 2/11/18

<–The State of the Writer: 1/28/18          The State of the Writer: 2/25/18–>

A biweekly post updated every Sunday discussing my current writing projects and any completed the prior two weeks.

Finished Projects: 2

  1. Valiant Hearts: The Great War – 1/30/18
  2. Red as Blood and White as Bone by Theodora Goss – 2/3/18

Project: Story
The Broken Rose
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Type: Fanfiction (FFVII) Novel
Current Word Count: 261,484
Prior Word Count: 261,308
Word Difference: +176
Status: Revising
Progress: Reviewing Chapter 2

Fanart of Sephiroth holding a swooning AerisI finally finished my revisions of Chapter 2 and now I’m in the reviewing process.  This was a tough week including the weekend in terms of the time and tiredness factor, so I was only able to review Chapter 1.  Here’s hoping next week is more productive.

In Progress

  • Audio Recording – I recorded the second part of the essay in question on Friday as planned, though my voice still failed me after about a half an hour.  Either way it’s done so I need to edit it.  I’m hoping my slower reading sounds better than the prior one.  I’m probably going to try to finish recording the rest of it before doing the full edit.  I have the parts with the video comparisons to record.
  • Favorite Game Every Year I’ve Been Alive – I’m in the 2010’s now.  Hoping to finish figuring out the games this week so I can start the post.

I think this may be my shortest update post of them all.  I really want to get the Game of the Years thing posted.  Why do I do these italicized afterwards?  Is it supposed to be a wrap up/summary?  I have no clue, but I’m going to keep doing them 😉  What have you worked on lately?  How is February treating you?  I’m ordering cupcakes for Valentine’s Day, because I use it as an excuse to eat cake and drink wine…not that I need one.  What’s your favorite kind of cupcake?  What type of wine do you prefer?  I think I might go for some champagne cupcakes and make this champagne mimosa drink I saw on Facebook.  I’m also seeing a rheumatologist that day, which is a good thing.  Okay, I’ve rambled long enough.  Let’s chat in the comments!

<–The State of the Writer: 1/28/18          The State of the Writer: 2/25/18–>