Archive for time travel

Year End Book Report: My Favorite Books/Comics I Read in 2022

Posted in Blog Series, Book Report, books, comic books with tags , , , , , , , , , on January 17, 2023 by Paxton

Year End Badass Book Report

2022 was, for some weird reason, a very productive reading year for me. I reached the highest amount of books/comics read, EVER. So let’s dig into that.

You can find my reading log on Goodreads. I log everything I read there. My reading goal for 2022 was 150.  And according to Goodreads, I finished out the year with 241 books.  I smashed all my previous reading totals. I was even in a position in December where I was within readch of 250, but work was really busy at that time and I didn’t really try to read a few quick things to up the number. Gotta leave some goals for next year, right?

Let’s take a look at some of the GoodReads stats for 2022.

Year in Books 1

It’s not all novels, obviously, I read a lot of comics as well.  And depending on how GoodReads has you log them, it can inflate your totals.  But I’m pretty happy with how much I got read this past year.

Let’s look at the numbers of some of the things I read.

Year in Books 2

Here’s my shortest and longest book I read.  Shortest is an issue of a comic.  Not surprising.  I started that Tom Taylor Nightwing series last year and I’m loving it.  It’s so good.  The longest is, surprisingly, another comic.  I reread the X-men: Inferno story arc.  I hadn’t read that since it came out in 1989.  And I only read the collection of the main mutant titles; X-Men, X-Factor, New Mutants, and X-Terminators.  Even just that was a lot, but there’s a whole separate collection of all the tie-in books.  At least 20 more issues of tangentially related books.  I had to draw the line there.  Inferno is great, but…no.

Year in Books 3

Here are my “most popular” and “least popular” shelved books.  Most popular was Jurassic Park.  I re-read that last year for the first time since the summer the movie came out.  It’s still a pretty great book.  I’m hoping to re-read the sequel, The Lost World, this year.   Look at that, over a million other people shelved Jurassic Park last year.  That’s crazy.  Wow.

And the least popular book I shelved was The Story of Breakin’.  Which is supposed to be an oral history of the making of the movie.  Don’t get me started on that.  It’s enthusiastic, but it’s not great.

Let’s move on with my recap of my favorite books I read this year.

Rules are the same as every year.  Only books/comics I read for the first time in 2022 are eligible for this list.  No re-reads, of which I typically had a few.  I don’t usually read brand new stuff the year it comes out, but it happens.  This year I read 5 novels that were released in 2022.  One of those 5 was a “did not finish”.  Let’s see if any of them made the list.

Here are the top 5 books I read last year in no particular order.

Images and links are from GoodReads pages.

Books

Rule of Wolves
Rule of Wolves by Leigh Bardugo
– The currently final book in the Shadow and Bone series. All of this series has made it onto my year end lists in some form or another. The final two books are a duology focusing on Nicolai, who is my favorite character. The book before this, King of Scars, was a very slow starter, so I was concerned going into this.  However, this book was a fantastic ending (?) to the saga.  The story was good, characters arcs wrapped up nicely, it was so much fun.  This whole series is good, but my favorites are the middle two books, Six of Crows, and Crooked Kingdom. Leigh Bardugo is currently one of my favorite writers.  All of her books are really fun and have really good dialogue and characters.

Showtime!
Showtime!: Magic, Kareem, Riley, and the Los Angeles Lakers Dynasty of the 1980s by Jeff Pearlman
– I’m a huge fan of pre-2000s NBA documentaries and biographies. I’ve read a couple huge oral histories of the NBA and the ABA, and tons of books about players and teams including Larry Bird, Pete Maravich, Wilt Chamberlain, and the Celtics.  This was one I never read.  It’s what the HBO series Winning Time! is loosely based on.  So after really enjoying season 1 of Winning Time! I decided to give this a shot.  And it’s everything I wanted it to be.  Pretty much an oral history of the Los Angeles Lakers starting around the year before Magic was drafted in 1979 and ends right around his (first) retirement in 1991.  It’s a lot of information but it’s a lot of fun to see all the locker room shenanigans the team got into.  And not just the players, Jerry Buss was kind of a wild man as well.  This was a really fun read.

Just One Damned Thing After Another
Just One Damned Thing After Another (Chronicles of St Marys Book 1) by Jodi Taylor
– Being a huge devotee of time travel books, I’ve been lurking on these St Mary’s books for a while.  Currently I’ve read a short prequel to the series, this first book, and the second book.  I think there are currently 14 books in the series.  I don’t know if I’ll ever get to finish the full series, but the first two books are really really good.  There’s a St Mary’s Institute for Historical Research at the University of Thirsk in London.  It studies historical events in “contemporary time”.  Which is a fancy way of saying, they travel back in time and study historical events.  In this book time travel exists and this research institute uses it to bolster the human record of the past.  However, the quirky staff at the Institute are disaster magnets and anything that can go wrong will.  It’s the characters that are the highlight here but there is some good time jumping action.

Kaiju Preservation Society
The Kaiju Preservation Society by John Scalzi
– I’ve always wanted to read John Scalzi but I never pulled the trigger. I read a sample of his book Redshirts, but never actually finished it.  However this came out in February 2022, and my library had a copy online, so I quickly checked it out. And this is a lot of fun.  At first glance you think, “It’s essentially Jurassic Park”.  Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.  I read another book in that pastiche that I liked a few years ago called The Great Zoo of China.  They can be a lot of fun.  This story obviously isn’t Earthbound.  The goverment discovers a portal to another dimension and a land filled with kaiju.  They set up a research station in that dimension to learn more about the creatures.  It doesn’t really go the way you expect, ie the kaiju run rampant killing people.  It’s actually more of a people villain that causes a bunch of havok, but it’s certainly a lot of fun.  And the way the research station works and the variety of kaiju are definitely interesting.

Jack West Jr #7
One Impossible Labyrinth (Jack West Jr Book 7) by Matthew Reilly
– I started this series way back in 2010. It’s showed up on my year end list several times, as has the author, Matthew Reilly.  This is the final book in Reilly’s Jack West Jr series which is a big, epic, adventure series akin to Indiana Jones, but even bigger.  There’s a lot to digest here, it’s not just a one off book, you’re gonna need to read the series from the beginning or you’re gonna be lost.  And as a finale, this book nailed it.  I love this series, but the last three or four books have just been exquisite.  Reilly really knows how to write action and keep the plot moving.  So fun.

As usual, I also read a bunch of movie novelizations this year for I Read Movies.  However, I don’t include those in this list.  I do a separate write up for I Read Movies year end.  Check it out here.

Let’s switch over to comics! Here are the top 5 comics I read last year in no particular order.

Comics

All-New Wolverine
All-New Wolverine by Tom Taylor and David Lopez
– I love Laura Kinney (X-23), so I was very curious about this title where she takes over the mantle of the dead (at the time) Wolverine. I think this was also the title that introduced me to writer Tom Taylor.  This is such a great series.  I read the first three volumes in the title and I love every minute of it.  Laura gets a quirky group of characters around her and they have these awesome adventures.  I really enjoyed it.

Nightwing
Nightwing by Tom Taylor, Bruno Redondo, and Neil Edwards
– So I loved Tom Taylor from All-New Wolverine, and I kind of do like Nightwing. Actually, it wasn’t really Nightwing that drew me to this, it was Taylor and all the buzz he was getting about how good this title is. So I gave it a shot.  Taylor takes over in issue #78 and I’ve read through about issue #94.  The title is GREAT.  I love Dick as Nightwing in this.  I love Barbara Gordon.  I love that the Titans show up every once in a while.  Blockbuster is the main villain, but he’s more a terrifying mob boss than he is the smash first monster that I’m used to.  This is a really good title that I’m continuing to read because I enjoy all the characters.

Squirrel Girl
The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl by Ryan North and Erica Henderson
– I’ll admit, the buzz for this one actually kept me away.  The art is weird, I didn’t get the character, and it just seemed like this whole Squirrel Girl “thing” was just not for me.  But I kept hearing from people it’s really good, so towards the end of last year, I decided to just give it a shot.  And you know what?  I really liked it.  Ryan’s humor is a lot of fun.  He writes extra comments in the margins of the comic that are pretty weird and funny.  The first page of each comic is a Twitter-like conversation between Squirrel Girl and other heroes which is hilarious.  I just really enjoyed Squirrel Girl’s positivity and outlook.  I’ll be honest, Erica Henderson’s art takes some getting used to.  Everyone looks weird.  But over time it just works.  You get used to it.  North’s Squirrel Girl adventures remind me a lot of Christopher Hastings Gwenpool series from a few years ago.  Very much enjoyed this.

Batman 3 Jokers
Batman: Three Jokers by Geoff Johns and Jason Fabok
– I was reluctant to get into this one because I don’t really want an investigation into the nature of The Joker.  The Joker, to me, is a force of nature, an agent of chaos.  I don’t need him defined.  This does that, to a point, but it’s a really good look at how the Joker has affected the lives of Jason Todd, Barbara Gordon, and to an extent, Batman.  In the book we learn there are three Jokers; The Clown, The Criminal, and The Comedian.  And we learn how each one works.  It’s really well done and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it.  Jason Fabok’s art is fantatic as well.

Maniac of NY 2
Maniac of NY vol 2 – The Bronx is Burning by Elliot Kalan and Andrea Mutti
– The followup to the original Maniac of NY.  I really like this book.  This continues the story of how New York City would deal with having a mysterious, unkillable movie slasher that can disappear and reappear at will.  You have the burned out detective on the slasher swat squad, you have the disaffected mayor, you have the cynical police force.  It’s really good.  However, there are some frustrations, but I think the comic knows they are frustrations.  The book lays out a few “hints” to the back story and nature of the killer, Harry.  Total plot threads like certain spots of the city that he seems to avoid.  And a few other things that point to a possible weakness.  However, nothing is ever picked up on.  They are completely left dangling.  It’s possible these threads will be picked up again for the possible upcoming part 3, but as a reader, that’s fascinating and frustrating in equal measures because I really enjoy this book.

And those were my favorite books and comics I read in 2022. I’ll maybe have a followup article to this talking about some Honorable Mentions.  You know, things that maybe I liked that almost made the list, but also things I didn’t like and really want to talk about.

Hope you enjoyed this article and found something new that you may eventually love.  Let me know if you do!

Okay, that covers EVERYTHING I’ve read.  Next up…MOVIES!  Stay tuned.

2021 Year End Honorable Mentions – Books/Comics

Posted in Blog Series, Book Report with tags , , , , , , , , on January 31, 2022 by Paxton

YE Book Report

I posted my favorite books/comics of 2021 a few weeks ago.  As usual, I had a few entries that didn’t necessarily make my favorites list, but I still wanted to talk about them.  Good and bad.

Starting with books…LET’S BEGIN!

Shadow & Bone Seige & Storm
Shadow & Bone / Seige & Storm – The first two books in the Grishaverse series.  This is what the Netflix show is based on, well the first book here, and another book in the series are mashed together.  I read the first two books in 2021.  I like a lot of what’s in them.  The world that’s set up is awesome.  This version of magic is closer to super powers than actual sorcery.  I like the main protagonist, Alina.  She’s got a nice arc through 2/3 of the first book, until she doesn’t.  The biggest issue I have with this series is Alina’s love interest, Mal.  He is the f**king WORST.  Completely worthless.  Shadow & Bone starts off with Alina being best friends with Mal and pining for him while he goes off completely ignoring her.  Typical storyline.  But then Alina is found to be Grisha, which means she goes off to a special school to learn about her powers.  At this school, she discovers that she can’t use her powers.  They refuse to work on command.  She has to work through her feelings about Mal, who isn’t Grisha, and realize that she was suppressing her powers and hiding them from Mal so he didn’t find out. because he was kind of anti-Grisha.  Alina ultimately gains control of her powers again because she gives up this weird attachment to Mal.  BUT THEN, Mal returns and completely destroys everything Alina had gained from the previous portion of the book.  And he’s terrible to Alina.  He says he loves her, but his actions say otherwise.  He treats her like garbage.  I hate him.  And I don’t know why he came back.  Alina didn’t need his love or his help in the climax of the book.  And he’s still there being a complete wet blanket throughout the second book.  So, these books are great.  The characters are awesome.  The world is interesting.  The one character of MAL is *very* close to being a deal breaker.  I hate him so much.

Nathaniel Cade
The President’s Vampire series by Christopher Farnsworth
– This series is so high premise I get vertigo just thinking about it.  One hundred and fifty years ago a vampire was discovered on a whaling vessel that had docked in Boston Harbor.  Thinking quickly, President Andrew Johnson has a voodoo witch doctor bind the vampire to the office of the President of the United States.  From then forward, the vampire, now known as Nathaniel Cade, is sworn to protect the office and the country from all unnatural enemies.  I love the idea of this series; imagine the series 24 but swap out Jack Bauer for a vampire.  That’s essentially what this is.  And it’s totally played straight.  They handle all the supernatural elements very well.  And along with all the unnatural goings on, we do get a bit of political intrigue as well.  So far it’s only these three books, but Farnsworth also wrote two novellas featuring Nathaniel Cade; The Burning Men and Deep State.  This is a fun series that I really enjoyed reading this year.

Recursion
Recursion by Blake Crouch – I love time travel.  Especially when a book does something different with it.  And this book sort of intertwines time travel, with memory, and alternate realities.  I really don’t want to give anything away, because there’s a lot of surprises here, but, on a high level, there is a doctor that is working on a cure for Alzheimers.  Her mother has it.  She is hoping to create a system that allows people to relive their memories in a fully immersive VR environment.  Needless to say, her work is picked up and sort of steered into a new direction and all hell breaks loose.  Like seriously.  This book gets BANANAS.  I really enjoyed it.  It literally just missed out on being in my “favorites” list.

Now, how about some comic book honorable mentions?

Maniac of NY
Maniac of New York by Elliott Kalan
– This comic is a *lot* of fun.  It takes the premise of…”What if Jason Voorhees were real, and nobody could stop him?  So city officials and the people in the city decide to make the best and just live with him.”  How would peoples’ lives change? This really puts forth some interesting thoughts.  Radio morning shows have a Killer Watch during the traffic report.  They let you know if he’s been seen on the subway.  And there’s a task force set up to stop him, but no one seems to be able to as he appears and disappears like a ghost.  I read the first 5-6 issues of this and really liked it.

Flash 36 Flash 61
The Flash (1987-) #36 – 61
– Being a big fan of The Flash, I read this title as it was coming out starting with issue #3 in 1987.  Back then I probably read up to like issue 50 or so.  I only stopped about the time I went to college and stopped reading comics for the most part.  Back in 2020, I decided to start a reread of this title.  I read issues #1-35 in 2020, and then I continued through issue 61 in 2021.  Mark Waid started his storied run in issue #62, but my memories of this series are the first 61 issues before Mark even got there.  And I thoroughly enjoyed my reread of this series.  These Wally West issues are pretty great.  He loses his powers.  Gains them back.  He wins the lottery and becomes rich.  Then loses all his money and becomes poor only to get rich again.  It’s a roller coaster.  And there are more than a few issues that are weird and not great.  Linda Park is completely wasted in her run, even becoming possessed by what seems like an ancient Irish wizard, but turns out to be the Kilg%re.  Lots of weirdness and wackiness.  But most of it is really good.

So there are a few extra book/comic recommendations.  Look for some movie honorable mentions later this week!

Movie Man-a-thon: Dracula, secret agents and a time traveling Ethan Hawke

Posted in Dracula, Genres, horror, monsters, time travel with tags , , , , , , on March 19, 2015 by Paxton

Steph took the kids to her parents for the week so I was left to my own bachelor devices. So, as usual, I programmed a viewing schedule of movies and TV shows that Steph would not ever want to watch. I’ve done this before, time to do it again.


Dracula Untold (2014) – The Universal monster rally movies can now begin!  I didn’t hear a lot about this movie beforehand but I look forward to any movie utilizing the classic monsters, especially Universal who says they want to plan a “monsterverse” set of movies.  This actually wasn’t that bad and a pretty good re-interpretation of the legend of Vlad the Impaler.  It makes him a more sympathetic character and places the inhuman bloodthirsty killer on another character from which Vlad will get his vampiric status.  The cast is great and the effects are pretty awesome.  Recommend.  However, to be honest, I was a bit disappointed we didn’t get a glimpse or hint of another monster in a post credit sequence.  But that’s a relatively small gripe.


Kingsman: The Secret Service (2015) – Until very recently I had no idea this was based on a Mark Millar comic.  Honestly, I think Millar had the screenplay written, no one bought it, and so he made it into a comic.  Then when the comic did pretty well, he was able to sell it to Matthew Vaughn.  And this is a pretty spectacular movie.  I love Colin Firth and he’s brilliant in this.  On one hand he plays directly into your expectations of him while simultaneously doing something completely different that you would never expect him to be doing.  Michael Caine is also great.  The new kid is pretty good.  My only gripe would be Sam Jackson as the villain.  We’re to the point now where Sam Jackson will immediately take me out of a movie.  He’s no longer Sam Jackson the actor, he’s Sam Jackson the character.  He transcends whatever he’s trying to do.  And I appreciate he’s trying to do something a little different with the lisp, but I never saw anything other than SAM JACKSON playing the villain.  That being said, he’s remarkably entertaining to watch in this movie.  I highly recommend it.  I hope there are more Kingsman movies to come.


Predestination (2015) – On the surface, it looks to take the same basic idea of agents policing the time stream as Time Cop. But quickly you find out it’s a completely different movie.  It’s a more intimate story involving one time agent on one mission that seems to have some huge importance to history, but also some very personal importance as well.  It’s not really what I wanted out of the movie but I’m not going to lie, the way the story wraps up has a few surprising reveals that I didn’t see coming.  I saw one of them coming pretty early, but not the other.  It’s mostly well acted and interesting, but definitely quirky and a bit weird.  The story focuses more on Ethan Hawke and Sarah Snook’s characters and their interactions with each other more than the actual time travel or the agency that is policing the time stream and how it works.  But it’s still a good movie.  I’d give it a soft recommend.


Game of Thrones: Season 2 – My wife and I started watching Season 2 a few weeks ago but she bowed out after two episodes.  By contrast, I was hooked after the same two episodes.  I went ahead and finished the season while Steph was away.  THIS SHOW IS SO GOOD.  Great characters, great drama.  Everything in this world is so f**king filthy.  Dirt and mud is EVERYWHERE.  And I feel sorry for the actor who plays Joffrey.  He plays the most despicable person in a TV show EVER.  I want to punch him in the face.  With a crowbar.  SO GOOD.  But far and above everyone else is Peter Dinklage kicking so much f**king ass as Tyrion Lannister.  He gets better every episode.  I’m two seasons behind right now so I’m trying to stay as spoiler free as possible, but I’m already aware that there is this thing called a “Red Wedding” and it happens at the end of season 3.  But that’s all I know.  SO SHUT UP ABOUT IT ALREADY.

The movies I’m anticipating in 2015

Posted in movies, personal, Star Wars with tags , , , on January 23, 2015 by Paxton

Okay, I’ve showed you the best and the worst movies I watched last year. What about this year? I thought I’d throw out a few movies that I’m looking forward to in 2015. Now, I’m not saying the movies I list here are going to be the best movies of the year, these are just the movies that I personally am super excited to see as they have something about them that flips that switch in my wheelhouse.

First things first, let’s get the obvious blockbuster ones out of the way. You know the ones:

Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Avengers: Age of Ultron
Superman v Batman
Furious 7
Jurassic World
James Bond: Spectre

Of course I’m anticipating these movies so I’m not going to elaborate any further than that. I’ll do everything I can to see those movies in the theater. Those are a given for me. So, with those out of the way, let’s take a look at some other movies I’m anticipating that may not even be on your radar.

Tomorrowland
Tomorrowland – This looks amazing. Brad Bird is awesome and he got Clooney for this so the script has got to be good.  And check out that awesomely atmospheric teaser.

Hateful Eight
Hateful Eight – Tarantino’s new picture. It’s a western. And it stars Kurt Russell, Sam Jackson, Bruce Dern, Walt Goggins, Jennifer Jason Leigh and Channing Tatum. So, yes, I’m in.

tom-cruise-mission-impossible-5
Mission: Impossible 5 – I loved Ghost Protocol and this entry will be directed by Christopher McQuarrie who last worked with Cruise on the awesome Jack Reacher.

victor-frankenstein
Victor Frankenstein – Not a part of Universal’s planned Monster-verse movies that started with Dracula Untold, this particular movie is from 20th Century Fox, is directed by Max Landis and stars James McAvoy as Victor and Daniel Radcliffe as Igor.  The movie is told from Igor’s point of view.  Cast and plot sound AWESOME.

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Nerd Lunch Episode 110: Lost in Time #TBT

Posted in nostalgia, podcast, pop culture, time travel with tags , , , on September 25, 2014 by Paxton

Nerd Lunch Podcast

Hurtled 10 months into the future, our long lost 110th episode has finally been retrieved out of the time stream. CT and I welcome back to the show Tim Lybarger in this very special Throwback Thursday episode.

Lost in Time photos

This week the nerds are thrown back to three different points in their history where they must survive ten months with nothing but the clothes on their back. How do they survive? What friends do they make in the past? What do they change? All these questions are answered and more! Plus, Nerd To-Dos feature Doctor Who, Thor 2 and Christmas.

Download this episode from iTunes, Stitcher or listen to it on Feedburner.

Or listen to it online right here.