Ryan K. (poolaka) - Reviews

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The Complete Far Side 1980-1994 (2 vol set)
The Complete Far Side 1980-1994 (2 vol set)
Author: Gary Larson, Steve Martin
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 5/5 Stars.
Review Date: 2/15/2014

This...is glorious. Exquisite. Monumental. HEAVY! An absolute MUST have for die-hard Larson fans. Good luck finding one on PBS, as the shipping alone would probably cost $10, let alone I can't see any fan ever wanting to get rid of theirs (I'll never give up mine).

This 2 tome compendium is everything a Larson fan could have possibly hoped for. Buy one through the PBS store, because you really need to have this!

Darkness & Light (DragonLance: Preludes Vol. 1)
Darkness & Light (DragonLance: Preludes Vol. 1)
Author: Paul B. Thompson, Tonya C. Cook
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.3/5 Stars.
Review Date: 3/6/2014

This book reads like bad fanfic. "Hey what would happen if we go back to when our heroes are just starting out and have them split up? Oh, and then we'll contrive a way for the gnomes to get involved and they can fly to the moon in a blimp!"

Unless you REALLY love the antics of gnomes, AND enjoy one-dimensional writing from authors you like, stay away from this one.

Mirror Sight: Book Five of Green Rider
Mirror Sight: Book Five of Green Rider
Author: Kristen Britain
Book Type: Mass Market Paperback
  • Currently 4.4/5 Stars.
Review Date: 1/28/2017

Disappointing. A self-indulgent and bloated interlude that at times felt more like fanfic than a Green Rider story. Weighing in at 750+ pages, 600 pages of which did nothing to progress the overall Green Rider arc, this book is akin to a side quest in a video game. I actually found myself on more than one occasion wanting to skip to the end because of the stagnant nature of the story. The ending is satisfying, but relative to the rest of the book, that is not much of a feat.

I love the Green Rider series and Karigan's character. Normally I will tear through them in a day or two tops, staying up way too late to finish it. This one took me a week. I easily put this one aside for days at a time. The story lacks the compulsion to read that the rest of the series possesses. It's still worth a read, as the theme and revelations fit into the overall series arc. However, you should temper your expectations relative to other Green Rider books.

Star Wars: Aftermath (Aftermath, Bk 1) (Journey to Star Wars: The Force Awakens)
Review Date: 8/15/2017

FYI - There are some story arc spoilers at the very bottom of the review.

This is one of the worst formats for a book I've ever experienced. This tries to be two completely types of books: both a novel, and an annoyingly short anthology. Throughout the actual main story, there are random "Interlude" chapters, in which we are told a very short story about something that is happening elsewhere in the universe after the Death Star is destroyed. These side stories are not related in ANY WAY to our main story, or have any impact on it. Worse, they are so short, that very little context is given, and by the time you might start to gain an interest in learning more, the scene ends...never to be mentioned again.

The Expanded/Legends universe did this much better. They had the 'Tales from...' novels which where true anthologies in which the characters were actually fleshed out enough for us to care about them. And the stories were interesting! Actually, maybe those stories are still canon? I don't know, and I don't care enough to check. This novel format is broken and should go away permanently.

At the heart of it though, I found the story itself wanting. I really didn't care about the main story plot. Maybe it's partly because I've read pretty much all of the Expanded/Legends universe and I don't really care to start all over again. Or maybe it's because the story itself is really actually mediocre, at best, with a number of annoying writing elements included. Likely it's some slurry of all of the above, but heavy weight given to the latter.

Clearly, I wasn't a fan of this novel and I can't recommend it. My past experience/comparisons with the Expanded/Legends universe aside, my critique of the writing style still stands. Read it if you have a burning desire to know everything about the Star Wars universe, though I'd recommend reading a wikipedia article instead. It'll likely be more compelling and save you a lot of time.

I will say that I actually liked most of the main characters, but most of their motivations were not compelling. The worst thing about the main story arc is...

**** spoilers below ****
that every protagonist "dies" at least once during the story, some more than once. Then we find out they didn't die. I actually ended up wanting them to die, because the author clearly has a child's grasp of drama and suspense with his repetitive "cliffhanger" chapters. The story would've been better if the characters had died instead of being saved miraculously over and over again.

Star Wars: Red Harvest
Star Wars: Red Harvest
Author: Joe Schreiber
Book Type: Mass Market Paperback
  • Currently 2.7/5 Stars.
Review Date: 11/24/2014

If zombies weren't popular, this book wouldn't exist. This book is on par with some of the worst Star Wars books written, such as Darksaber and the Crystal Star. It's a mediocre zombie story set in the Star Wars universe.

Death Troopers was alright, because it worked in a scientific explanation that works in the Star Wars universe. The writing of this book is just plain lazy, especially with the concept of how the zombies came to be.

If you like zombies, you're not going to be impressed, because it's just your typical zombie-schlock, but with Jedi and Sith. Yay. The least they could have done was make the zombies significantly different in some way.

If you like Star Wars, well, depends how hardcore you are. If you enjoyed Darksaber and/or Crystal Star, go for it. If you realize how truly bad those books are, stay away from this one. If you're in the middle, don't waste your time. There are plenty of other books, Star Wars or not, worth your time before you pick this one up.

Stolen Crown: A Novel of Mithgar
Stolen Crown: A Novel of Mithgar
Author: Dennis L. McKiernan
Book Type: Mass Market Paperback
  • Currently 3/5 Stars.
Review Date: 6/15/2015

A fair entry in the Mithgar world, though I felt it misses the 'epic' drama of other Mithgar novels. I enjoyed the overall story and the characters within it. The first half was well-paced and provided a good amount of detail and texture.

However, the pace picked up in the second half, and even more so in the final third. Even so, it felt to me as though the drama actually dwindled. It really felt like this book should have been a duology, if just to make the second half more compelling by fleshing out more details about the journey and the battles. In the end, all the loose ends were wrapped up, though a bit too neatly. While the Mithgar stories are more about the journey and overall story, than detailed battle sequences, the end battle setup and narration were especially short here. The epilogue, while also typically thin, was like rice paper.

If you don't know the Mithgar series, you're better off starting elsewhere. The Iron Tower Trilogy is where it all started and I highly recommend that as a starting point. This novel is essentially a 'fill the gap' for Mithgar history, and is far from his best work.

If you're a fan of the Mithgar series, I will say this: it felt like Mr. McKiernan wanted to check the box off for telling this story. He had a lot of story he wanted to tell, but it was too much for a single novel. I think he/the publsher felt a duology would've been too much, so they crammed the story into one. I still think you should get this, mostly because you know you want to fill in every gap of Mithgar knowledge you can. You'll probably enjoy it, like I did, even if it isn't his best work.

Grain of salt: I'm a huge fan of the Mithgar world, and I have read every novel, most more than once. My review may be jaded by a bit of 'been there, read that before'. Much of the story, it seems to me, to be nothing new in the realm, nor in the world of literature. It's filler in the timeline of Mithgarian history.

StrengthsFinder 2.0
StrengthsFinder 2.0
Author: Tom Rath
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
Review Date: 2/15/2014
Helpful Score: 2

Bought first hand - 5 stars. Bought second hand - 2 stars.

The book is very general and isn't really go to do much for you on its own. HOWEVER, when you buy the book first hand, it is an excellent tool to find your 5 top strengths. The new book is necessary because it comes with a one-time only code to take the test on their website. If you get it second hand, that code is no longer valid.

By the time I took Strengths Finder 2.0, I had already taken a number of these tests throughout my life, including Myers-Briggs. They all provided some indicators of who I was, but never seemed to really capture who I really was. They wanted to shoehorn me into their very narrow models.

So, I was fairly skeptical before taking SF 2.0, but a good friend with a similar mindset had taken it, and recommended it highly. I resolved to keep an open mind...and I'm glad I did. The test took about 45 minutes and the results legitimately, and pleasantly, surprised me, a rather rare occurrence.

It provides what it evaluated as your top five strengths, by order of dominance. I am a Relator-Strategic-Input-Analytical-Ideation. There are over 40 traits that it uses to classify you, picking the top five based on how you answer the evaluation. It then provides a number of schema that tell you how each individual trait manifests, most frequently. Many of them will apply to you, but not necessarily all.

It also provides examples of people working in careers where these traits provide significant benefit to people for that career. Last but not least, it also provides an analysis of what traits of other people you are/aren't compatible with. My friend that recommend it worked at Merck, and he said they actually would group team members based on the results of this book.

I highly recommend SF 2.0 for anyone that is looking to learn more about themselves, especially when it comes to strengths in the workplace, especially how you work well with people of similar and differing traits.

Note - like with any reputable test, it won't 'tell' you what jobs you'll be good at. It just provides some examples of how the individual traits manifest.

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