Friday, June 14, 2019

Starcraft: Evolution

When I saw that Timothy Zahn had written a Starcraft book, I was intrigued.  I've read a few of his Star Wars books sometime before I started this blog and they were quite good.  So I was curious to see what he would do within the Starcraft universe.

In Starcraft: Evolution, Emperor Valerian receives a distress call from the zerg's Overqueen, Zagara, who requests terran aid against the protoss. The three races have had a cease-fire since their war against the xel-naga Amon, but this peace is tenuous. Along with his Admiral, Matt Horner, he brings the Hyperion to the world of Gystt where the protoss Hierarch, Artanis, is already in orbit.  Gystt was glassed by the protoss a decade ago; everyone is stunned to see the world teeming with life.

While Artanis and Valerian agree to speak with Zagara in person so that she may explain how the zerg has brought new life to the world (and how they may help rebuild some of the devastated worlds of the terran and protoss), Valerian sends a research team to investigate.  Made up of four terran (a marine, a reaper, a ghost, and a scientist) and a protoss (who has been with the ghost academy for a few years because his people did not want him back), Zagara assures everyone that the team can go wherever they like and will not be harmed.  But the team is attacked by a new breed of zerg, one that has distinctive red markings and psionic power that can cripple the protoss and psionic terrans in battle.  And Zagara claims no knowledge of this breed...

I really liked Starcraft: Evolution.  As I have played the games (especially Starcraft II), I kind of knew exactly who was behind what was going on.  But that didn't take away from my enjoyment of the book.  While the political stuff between Valerian, Artanis, and Zagara was interesting enough, Starcraft: Evolution really shines when it comes to the adventures of the research team.  I loved their dynamics and would be totally up for reading more of their adventures in the future!

Saturday, June 8, 2019

Cosmic Ghost Rider: Baby Thanos Must Die

A friend of mine lent this to me. It starts out with Frank Castle unhappy in Valhalla. Odin let's him return to the world of the living to whatever time he wishes since he feels he still has vengeance to deliver. He chooses to go back to when Thanos was a three year old. But he finds he cannot kill the innocent child. Instead he decides to raise Thanos in the hopes that he will make a better role model for the boy. However, the once-Punisher, now crazy Cosmic Ghost Rider may not be exactly the best father figure for the young boy....

This story is so ridiculous and fun! I laughed out loud when the Thanos Frank raised comes from the future to find him. Full of hilarious characters (like the Juggerduck), I loved this from start to finish! :D

Friday, June 7, 2019

The One Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results

I saw The One Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results and wanted to know what the one thing was.  Gary Keller's advice turns out to simply be that you focus on your one important thing, whatever that is.  Make time for it, practice it daily, and think outside the box to master it, and you will be on your way to living your own version of an extraordinary life.

I honestly don't have a whole lot to say about this book.  His advice is simple, yet much like JL Collins' The Simple Path to Wealth, The One Thing's advice is difficult to implement.  Keller recommends you make a daily commitment (or time block) to work on your one thing; that time block should be 4 hours at a minimum.  Over the course of a year, the four hours a day works out to the approximate hours you need to dedicate to a skill to master it; presumably if you blocked less time (like say two hours), it would take you more time to master said skill. 

Then you have to guard against losing this time block to various time thieves.  This isn't impossible, but it will be difficult to begin with (especially during the average of 66 days it takes to create a new habit according to the research Keller has done for this book). 

Keller provides some good motivation (and some excellent quotes from other people).  I think this is a good book to read if you're struggling with dedicating your time towards what matters most for you.  He also provides some excellent information on setting boundaries (ie saying no to other things).  Overall, I think this is a fine book on the topic, although I did have a hard time finishing reading it once I figured out exactly what his message was (I know part of the problem was that I wanted to stop to go work on my one thing!) ;)

Monday, June 3, 2019

House Detox

A friend of mine at work knew I liked reading house books, so she gave me House Detox by Sara Burford.  House Detox is a really fast read (it's under 100 pages).  It's divided into 8 sections (Make a Start, Entrance Hall, Lounge, Kitchen, Bedroom, Bathroom, Garage, and Index); it's got a ring binding, and each of those sections is a tab, so they're very easy to locate within the book.

I do wish the book went into more detail on a lot of the tips.  For example, it said that house plants should not be kept in the bedroom, but offered no reason why. 

Overall, I thought this book was a great read for anyone new to the idea of decluttering.  It has a lot of great info on how to get started, and about how to plan your declutter so you don't get overwhelmed.  Unfortunately it didn't go into enough detail for anyone who needs a little more out of their decluttering journey.

Saturday, June 1, 2019

Delilah Dirk and the King's Shilling

The library had the second Delilah Dirk title, Delilah Dirk and the King's Shilling, so I decided to give it a read as well.  The King's Shilling takes place a few years after Delilah Dirk and the Turkish Lieutenant.  After rescuing a little boy from his father (the boy's grandparents and mother wanted the boy back), Dirk and Mister Selim encounter an English Major.  The Major frames Dirk as a spy for the French army.  So to clear her name (and get revenge against the Major), Dirk and Selim journey to England.  There, against Dirk's initial wishes, she brings Selim to her family's estate, where Selim discovers Delilah Dirk is not Dirk's real name; she is in fact an English Lady, and her mother has no idea about her adventures across the continent!  How will Dirk manage to find the Major while keeping up the pretense that she is a regular English Lady?

I enjoyed reading The King's Shilling, but not quite as much as The Turkish Lieutenant.  In The King's Shilling, I found the action a bit harder to follow; there were a few instances where I had to reread the page a few times before I could figure out what exactly was going on.  I enjoyed Dirk's double life though (even though it's a bit hard to imagine how all the Ladies around her weren't onto something being up - Dirk isn't exactly subtle!)  All in all, this was another fun read by Cliff; I hope I'll be able to read Delilah Dirk and the Pillars of Hercules one day soon! :)

Friday, May 31, 2019

Injustice vs Masters of the Universe

I saw this at work and had to read it.  I love the Masters of the Universe, and the thought of He-Man vs Superman was just too good to pass up!  And wow, Injustice vs Masters of the Universe was quite the wild ride! 

It starts with He-Man vanquishing a robot named Faker, who had taken control of Eternos, Capital City of Eternia.  But the civilians berate He-Man for liberating them, because under Faker, they felt safer.  He-Man tells them that he fights for their freedom; Faker was a dictator who tortures people and strips the civilians of their voice.  Zatanna and Swamp Thing overhear this, and decide that He-Man is the perfect man to recruit in their war against Superman back home.  After the Joker tricked Superman into killing Lois and their unborn child, Superman established a totalitarian regime to stop such tragedy from happening again.  Unfortunately, many suffered under his tyranny.  He was overthrown once, but after Brainiac attacked, he was released.  Afterwards, Superman reestablished his regime.  With the Sorceress's blessing, He-Man, along with Teela and Orko, accompany the Justice League to Earth.  Swamp Thing, Starfire, and Cyborg remain on Eternia to help out in He-Man's absence.  Unfortunately, not long after He-Man leaves, Darkseid arrives with the intention of wresting the Anti-Life Equation from the spirit who resides within Castle Grayskull!

Injustice vs Masters of the Universe was such a fun romp.  I absolutely loved it and would love to read more (which the book clearly lends itself to - Hordak running Apokolips, anyone?)

Urban Cycling: How to Get to Work, Save Money, and Use Your Bike for City Living

Wow, so I just realized that it only took me six days to read Urban Cycling: How to Get to Work, Save Money, and Use Your Bike for City Living by Madi Carlson.  I honestly felt like I had been reading it for weeks!  The problem is that it's a reference book, not meant to be read cover to cover (much like You Grow Girl, it's a reference book).  I was actually surprised to finish it earlier this afternoon, because it really felt that slow going.

Carlson covers all things bikes with the intention of getting you set up for commuting by bicycle.  She has some very in depth chapters on the parts and types of bikes, gear, and riding. I surprisingly was quite interested in the chapter on riding with kids; I really liked her break down of the different options for seats, bike trailers, etc.  I do suspect that the book is more for beginner cyclists (or beginner cycling commuters) rather than more experienced people, but I thought it was a very good reference book all the same.

My biggest complaint (besides the fact that this book should not be read cover to cover) is the lack of pictures, particularly to demonstrate bike repairs.  I had a really hard time trying to understand that chapter.  So if you're hoping for a bicycle repair manual, you'd be better off reading something else or going online - I'm sure there are good Youtube videos.

The other issue that I had is that Urban Cycling is very much American.  This is a personal thing, because I am Canadian, so many of the resources she mentioned in the text didn't apply to me because they were all centered around American cities (although there were a few organizations and events that were worldwide, or at least also in Canada).  I didn't really check the resource section at the back of the book though, so it's possible that some of the books and blogs she mentioned are Canadian as well.

So overall, Urban Cycling is a great book to get you started if you're interested in commuting to work via bicycle.  But it doesn't lend itself to reading cover to cover; flip through it and read the parts that interest you instead!