Review: Love, Death & Robots (Netflix)

A Netflix show that was interesting enough I’d want to review it!? Sure, there are Netflix shows that I thoroughly enjoy, but this one was just far enough outside of the box to make me want to talk about it. Sit down, grab a tall glass of water, and load up your sister’s Netflix account, it’s time to talk Love, Death & Robots.

LoveDeathandRobots

The name is simple, and it’s how I’ll give you the disclaimer before you start watching with your ten year old brother that loves robots. Love is the first word of the title, and is your disclaimer for all the nudity you’re about to see. Almost every one of the episodes shows all sorts of skin, so if you’re not into that you might want to back away slowly. This series is NOT shy, and it will flaunt it’s Dracula-monster-penis all over the screen. Death is the second word, and is very straightforward. There is a good deal of blood and gore in a lot of the episodes as well. Again, not for the faint of heart. Ahh, then we get to Robots! Not much to be said here, although surprisingly not all of the episodes feature a type of robot (or do they?).

I’ll be honest, I didn’t expect much from this series. Lately, I haven’t been entertained by a lot of shows or movies. People would get on social media and claim that <insert popular show of the week here> is the best thing since Friends. I’d check it out and get bored twenty minutes in, or I’d stick around for a few episodes and really waste my time (sorry, Umbrella Academy, but you sucked). Have my tastes changed? Or have I just seen too much that I’m as bored as Thanos sitting on that chair listening to Ronan in GotG talk about politics? It’s up for debate, but it would be a boring one, I’m sure of it.

Love, Death & Robots (come on, no Oxford comma?) is a breath of fresh air in that regard. The episodes are short and sweet, and while they’re not all perfect, or anywhere close, they are interesting enough to get me to think, Hey, that was a good idea! It reminded me a lot of 2003’s The Animatrix. I watched that with my best friend back when it first came out. There were a few cool shorts there, but I think I was too young to catch on to all of the themes. I’ll have to give that a rewatch someday.

The Good:

  • Every episode is animated differently. Not all of them are super cool looking, but I loved the differences in each one. I really enjoyed the animation in episode three – The Witness. It was directed by Alberto Mielgo, who apparently did some work on Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse (Uhh, heck yeah!).
  • The storylines are so creative! Come on, episode six – When the Yogurt Took Over is about a sentient bowl of yogurt that takes over the world (and it’s amazing!). Good Hunting stands out here as well. The storyline transitions from 20th century China to a steampunk Hong Kong, and follows the friendship of a boy and a huli jing (a crazy cool girl that can turn into this nine-tailed fox kinda thing).

 

The Bad:

  • Some of the themes are a bit too much, as in, the women in a lot of these episodes don’t get a lot of love. Episode one – Sonnie’s Edge is great and all, but the abusive themes can turn a lot of people off.
  • Nudity is great, don’t get me wrong, but there are times when it’s done right and times when it doesn’t add anything to the story and is just a distraction. There were a few times when I was watching where I thought, Someone just wanted a reason to animate some boobs here. They were well done boobs of course, but still.

Stand Outs:

  • My favorite episode of all was Three Robots. It follows these three robots on a tour of the post apocalyptic world, and they try to figure out how humans lived based on what was left behind. It’s freakin hilarious.Three Robots
  • The Witness is a wonderfully animated thriller piece. This poor girl is running in nothing but an open robe from a guy she thinks just committed murder! I’m guessing she was pretty scared to go out dressed like that. Stay for the ending, because it’s worthy of a big thumbs up.The Witness Love Death and Robots
  • Suits is a high-action, Pacific Rim like short. It’ll keep you entertained all throughout.Suite Love Death and Robots
  • Good Hunting is beautifully done. The transition of time and growth of this young boy into a man was so creative. The struggles the huli jing goes through, and then what happens to her at the end is a very interesting watch. I loved how the setting and tone changed from a martial arts oriented China to this steampunk Hong Kong. This was my second favorite episode.Good Hunting
  • Beyond the Aquila Rift is a very cool sci-fi story. You think you know what you’re getting into, but then it keeps changing. Then you see what’s really going on, and… well, I won’t spoil it. Just watch it! Beyond the Aquila Rift

 

Overall, Love, Death & Robots is a well done series that held my attention. It was animated beautifully, tackled some tough issues, and had some very creative ideas and characters. Now my creative juices have been replenished, so I can go out and write my own interesting stories! It’s not very often that I find something that really pushes me to expand my own creativity like this series did. It’s not perfect, and it’s definitely not for everyone, but I recommend it for sure if you’re not opposed to anything I mentioned above.

What to Read in 2019!

I have lofty reading goals this year. How am I gonna have time to read these books when I have all this writing to do?? I’ll have to find a way…

Here are my picks! I’m sure as I get through the year and find some treasures at bookstores this will change, but more reading is never bad!

(Instant thought… how will I have time to read when Kingdom Hearts III releases next week…?)

First book! I started reading this in 2018, but it carries over into 2019. This is Within by Aaron Bunce.

This is a great book so far! He’s rereleasing this (next month?) with a new cover, title, and it’s been completely redone from beginning to end.

Next on the list comes from my Twitter writing squad:

I was looking for an ebook to buy around Christmas, and Emily sent me a link to hers, The Mystery of Jason Barrow. I don’t know much about it, but it looks like a quick and fun read! I’m planning on reviewing this one when I’m done.

Moving on! I found this at BAM!, and since then I keep seeing it all throughout the Twitter #writingcommunity (or is it #writerscommunity, WHO DECIDES!?).

This is one of those purchases that is completely based off of the sweet looking cover (and the blurb).

Next up is an oldie, but I’m planning on reading this series throughout my entire life. The Shadow Rising by Robert Jordan. I’ve loved the first three, and I’m sure the rest of the series is stellar as well.

Okay this next one I just found randomly from a friend. This is coming out in March. The Phone by W.J. Orion.

I’m just gonna leave the description right here, so you can read for yourselves:

The invaders came down to Earth in their ships, and multi-legged battle armor and we had no way to stop them from taking the water. Made sense. They looked like massive crabs, after all. The war was over in days.

Now, those left behind eke out a parched existence in the scorched rubble, avoiding the hunter-killer teams of crabs as they scour Earth for whatever they deem valuable.

Sixteen year old Yasmine Whitten is an expert at navigating the wastes; born into this world, she not only survives; she thrives. But she’s got a secret; her mother’s old cell phone.

Kept intact for 13 years of alien invasion, and kept charged by a tiny solar panel, these two relics of a dead-world give her sanity, and a host of tools that allow her to stay ahead of the scavengers, both human and crab alike. It’s a flashlight and a camera, and when she can’t sleep, she can comfort herself in the cold desert by looking at pictures of her mother and father, and by reading their old text messages to one another.
She’s doing well enough, for a teenager on her own in a ravaged world.

Until the phone rings.

Sounds cool to me.

Alright! Here are a few others on my list that I’m gonna be squeezing in amidst all of the writing, cosplay, drawing, breaking, and everything else I have going on (KINGDOM HEARTS III).

I LOVE the movie, so hoping the book is just as good

It’s Brandon Sanderson, can you go wrong!?

Another one from a movie. My wife just read it, and said I’d like it

It’s Brandon Sanderson again. Duh.

Happy reading this year, everyone! And for those that will be like me next week and bury themselves in KH3, remember to take some time away from the gaming! Too much screen time is bad for your eyes.

(Let’s not kid ourselves, we’re gonna play it day and night)

2018

It’s all over! What a fulfilling year.

Here’s what happened.

I signed my first book deal with Autumn Arch Publishing for Naevia-18 in January. It was a perfect fit! We undertook editing over the summer, and Aaron’s help has made me a much better writer. We just released it recently, and it’s been a dream come true. I’ve had all sorts of positive feedback from people, and I’ll be starting 2019 with an author event on January 18th at the Barnes & Noble on University Ave in West Des Moines.

I also completed a first draft for my (still unnamed) work in progress in February. I’ve started to revise it off and on in between other edits and writing projects and reading. I’m pretty stoked for this project though. It’s a neat mix of Final Fantasy VII, Final Fantasy X, and Mistborn. The story centers around childhood friends Tem and Neema. Tem is separated from Neema as a teenager when he is forced to join the king’s mindless army. In the years after, Neema joins the rebellion in hopes to loosen the king’s crushing grip on society. But when the dreaded, fire imbued yurdrak attacks again, Neema is reunited with a mindless Tem that can’t remember her. Somehow, they’ll have to work together with Neema’s new squad to end the cycle of yurdrak attacks and quell the king’s oppression. But there are other characters at play in the shadows, and Neema needs to be careful of who she trusts.

Early in the summer, I found out about local clothing company Made4Mankind’s local artist of the month feature. I applied, hoping for a win, but not expecting anything. Well, it turns out I was named their August Artist of the Month!

In between writing and editing and all other things life, my beautiful wife and I went on our dream vacation to Paris, France. What a cool place! There are things to see on every corner, from beautiful centuries old sculptures, cute little shops and cafes, or a random museum containing priceless works of art. All of this is backdropped with the beautiful Parisian architecture, street life, and big name spots to see. The Eiffel Tower, Sacre Coeur Basilica, Notre Dame Cathedral, the list goes on and on and on. In short, Paris is beautiful. We’re going back someday!

We also went to Disneyland Paris while we were there, finishing up our trip and celebrating our fourth wedding anniversary. This was our first time at any Disney park, and again, Paris’ entry to the Disney park list was beautiful. My wife and I are big Disney fans, and we loved these two parks.

For NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month – November), I started a first draft of a sequel to Naevia-18. I toyed around with the idea for awhile, but as Naevia-18 was being edited there were so many little things that I wanted to expand on and dive further into with this world. Naevia’s story is not over yet. I didn’t make it to the fifty thousand word mark to win NaNoWriMo, but I did get a good start (I’m about 18K words in). I’m not going to say much about it, but just know that this story is going to be CRAZY. So much is going to happen to Naevia’s world, and her and her friends might not be ready for it all. Everything they know will be tested, and the stakes are even higher than before.

Here’s to 2019. I’m planning on making more dreams come true this year. What are YOU going to do!? I’m sitting in a coffee shop right now finishing up this post, and my coffee cup at Caribou says, “The world needs more explorers. Life is short. Stay awake for it.”

Get out there and explore!

 

Review – SEASONS TURNING by Donaya Haymond

As we get to the eve of Naevia-18‘s release, I figured it was appropriate to review a fellow Autumn Arch Publishing title, Seasons Turning by Donaya Haymond. I’ve been wanting to review this for a while, but hadn’t taken the time!

I didn’t know what to expect with this book, so I came into it with a fresh slate (although when I read it I was waist deep in edits for Naevia-18, so my brain was straight up FRIED). This book helped! And now that my brain is refried from NaNoWriMo I’m hoping this review helps me out again!

Here’s the back cover blurb:

“Kira lives in a world where the seasons are much more than a time of year, but realms separated by delicate barriers. One Season, Summer, has his eye on Kira, and his intentions are anything but pure. An act of self-defense does more than save Kira from unknown horrors, but upsets the balance, and causes the barriers between realms to break down.

Spring leaves her girlfriend Amber behind, starting a journey she believes will avert further disaster, and accidentally crosses over into our world instead. She latches onto Jared, a relatively ordinary young man, and braves the dire unknown to identify the source of their world’s imbalance.

Winter requires damage control, while Autumn seeks to point Kira, and her trusty shotgun, in the right direction. Chaos ensues, threatening to plunge all the realms into a destructive tailspin. To everything there is a season. To the Seasons, what happens next is everything.”

This was such an interesting concept, I mean, seasons are actually people and they rule over their respective realms? Awesome. It took me a little bit to get to know each character, but once you meet everybody and get “acclimated” it’s a very easy book to read. The story revolves around the newly crowned queen of Summer, Kira. What she’s done disrupts the balance of the seasons, and forces her and the whole cast to enter this crazy adventure. Most of the characters are kept separate throughout the story, but you’ll see that each character’s point of view adds to the story as a whole.

The chapters with Spring were great. She enters the real world, and doesn’t realize that things there are different than in her kingdom (imagine Thor when he comes to Earth in his first movie). Her awkwardness, and Jared’s attempts to keep her from doing anything too crazy, was well written and a delight to read.

The merging of worlds were some of my favorite things in this book. It kind of reminded me of how Rick Riordan did this in his Percy Jackson series. There are things that happen in these seasonal realms (and a couple other realms) that end up affecting the people of the ‘regular’ world (and vice versa). The way Donaya Haymond writes these little quips in are easy and fun to read, becoming some of my favorite parts of the book.

I don’t want to go too in depth with everything I liked and didn’t liked, so I’ll leave this pretty open.

Seasons Turning is exciting, sexy, silly, and a wonderful read! The world was well built and a place I’d like to return to (and am hoping that I will, as I see this is Timely Realms Book 1). I could actually see myself reading this book again to catch all the little things here and there that I might have missed the first time around. Keep in mind, I don’t read books twice, but I think the uniqueness of this story and world could entertain me a second time around. As far as a first go around goes, read it! I give it my seal of approval.

 

It’s back to NaNoWriMo for me. My progress is slowing, so I’ve gotta get back to it! I’m currently reading For a Muse of Fire by Heidi Heilig as well, so once I finish with that I hope to post another review.

Orsay Museum, l’Orangerie, and Le Louvre in one day!?

Yes. It’s possible! Totally, and you don’t have to go rushing through each museum to get it done either. Sure, you could spend days in the Louvre, but when it’s your first time in Paris and you have to check out all the other sites how do you have the time!?

Well, we did it! We started off the morning (late, as the Parisians do) by heading to our closest Metro train station. Now this was our first time navigating the Metro, so obviously I screwed it up and we went the wrong way. Then of course when we got back on track and were heading the right direction the train broke down and we had to wait.

Anyway… we made it to the Musee du Louvre stop and got off to find something to eat.

I can’t remember exactly what time it was, but it was later in the morning when we started our walk to Orsay. We went around the Louvre and made our way through the Tuileries Garden and across the Seine to get there! It couldn’t have been a prettier day either.

The line to get into the museum wasn’t bad, maybe five or ten minutes through security and another five or ten to get tickets. Tip, get the ticket that lets you into Orsay and L’Orangerie to save time later. And enter!

Orsay is dope. Plain and simple. We didn’t scour the rooms and ponder artists’ thoughts as we made our way through the galleries, but we did enjoy ourselves and didn’t rush things. We even grabbed a snack at the cafe on the first level.

I snapped quite a few pictures of things that stuck out, and I found quite a few! The highlights of Orsay are of course are the Impressionism paintings, and Monet is all over this place. My highlight was Van Gogh!

IMG_0377This piece by Van Gogh was probably my favorite painting in Paris!

Once you get through hall after hall of Impressionism there is plenty more to see. Some lovely sculptures make up the main floor, and everyone loves taking pictures of the clock upstairs that looks out to Sacré Cœur.

IMG_0364

 

With Orsay done, we walked back across the Seine to l’Orangerie. The main selling point here is Monet’s Water Lilies, but there are some cool paintings downstairs that are worth the look (lots of Picasso’s down there if that’s your thing). We were in and out of l’Orangerie in half an hour or so. The crowds weren’t too bad, and the main thing we wanted to see was Water Lilies.

IMG_0393

We saved the best for last, Le Louvre. This place is a beast! It’s massive, and it gets terribly confusing when you get deep into some of the halls and stairways. Right when we got there we went straight in the main entrance down to where you can buy tickets and the museum breaks off into the three wings. We ate at Bistro Benoit before we tackled the museum, and I had the best croque monsieur EVER. My mouth is still watering.

So we started with the Richelieu wing, which I figured would just be a quick jaunt, but I loved the French sculpture section! I’m a huge fan of Greek and Roman mythology, so the statues of all the gods were right up my alley. From there we tried to get to the Mesopotamian artifacts, but got a little lost and ended up all over throughout the wing. That took up a ton of time. You try to find the sortie only to end up going in a circle and then somehow get deeper and deeper. We saw a few cool things, but were ready to head to the Sully wing.

The signs weren’t much better in the Sully wing, as we got lost for a few minutes trying to find the Venus de Milo, but we made it and it was worth it! I was pretty excited to see this statue, and it didn’t disappoint for me.

IMG_0429

We meandered through the rest of the Greek and Roman sculptures (so cool!), and randomly ended up at the foot of the stairs that led to the Winged Victory of Samothrace. I forgot this was even here, and to be honest I’m not sure if I even knew that it was! It was a pleasant surprise regardless.

IMG_0456

I was up taking pictures of good ol’ Nike when I noticed a sign saying that the Mona Lisa was just down the hall. Seriously!? Eff yeah! I hopped back down the stairs to grab my tired wife and ran right back up. We snuck into the Denon wing and followed the signs toward the Mona Lisa. I hoped the crowd wouldn’t be too bad since we went on a Wednesday and it was way late in the afternoon. There was a solid crowd, but I’m sure at more peak times it could get pretty jam packed! I weaseled my up to the front and got my selfie and a few pics.

IMG_0459

A lot of people talk about how disappointed they are when they see the Mona Lisa. I wasn’t at all. With all the talk I’d heard about how small it was I almost expected her to be the size of a piece of paper, but she’s more comparable to regular sized poster. She really is a lovely piece.

On our way out we stopped and sat for a bit. I looked up some things about the Louvre, and saw that there were some sculptures from Michelangelo. Say what!? I just saw Leonardo, some pieces of Raphael were down the hall in Denon, and now I get to see Mikey? Awesome. I didn’t realize until we got back to our hotel that some Donatello work was there too, but I suppose it give me an excuse to go back.

So we finished up our Louvre trip by checking out these two:

IMG_0475

That about does it. I ended up walking 21,000 steps on the day. We made it back to our hotel in the Latin Quarter when it started to get dark. We really did get to see quite a bit of all three museums, and if we really wanted to we probably could’ve packed in more. The bottom line is we had an amazing time and made some amazing memories.

Paris Adventure

The City of Lights! My wife and I embarked on this journey to celebrate her graduation from Iowa State University, both of our birthdays, and our fourth wedding anniversary!

We hit Chicago first, since it was substantially cheaper to fly straight from ORD. We stayed a night there, but really only hit up Wicker Park for the night then took off for CDG the next day!

The flight was just like any other seven hour flight. I watched Solo: A Star Wars Story (it was okay, 3/5), slept uncomfortably on and off for two hours, then watched Ex Machina (weird but interesting, 3/5), and part of Pacific Rim: Uprising (this one was pretty good, I’ll have to finish it later, so far I give it 4/5).

Anyway, enough about Chi-Town and boring plane rides. Let’s get to Paris! We hired a driver to take us from CDG to our hotel, which is really very convenient and affordable. It cost close to 70 euros, which I don’t think is much more than a taxi, we had a driver waiting for us at our terminal, and we rode in a sweet ass Mercedes. 👍 👍

We stayed at The Five Hotel, which is a boutique-y Hotel in the Latin Quarter (5th Arr.) our room was tiny, but that seems to be par for Paris hotels.

Day one, we hung out in the Latin Quarter. We walked around a little, getting a feel for the streets of Paris. What a place! It’s so crazy! And beautiful! And… *sigh

We finished up our day at the very southern tip of the Luxembourg Gardens, where the Garden of Great Explorers is. We also took a little walk to sneak a peak of the Pantheon.

That was it for day one. We retired early, since day two we embarked on a daunting task. Three of Paris’ museums in one day!? Is it possible???

#amediting

Not anymore! I got through my edits on Naevia-18!!! I never realized how much more polished it could’ve been. My writing has improved so much since I started this story a couple of years ago. Now (for some reason) I can’t wait to get back into my other stories to go through revisions!

It’s also been a little while since I read through Naevia-18 all the way, so it was refreshing to go through it again. I can’t wait until it releases people!! I hope you all love it. 🙃

I think I’ve got my upcoming projects all in order (for now), so I’ll have so many more things coming up!

That’s all I wanted to share today. More updates will be coming SOON! I also have an announcement that really made my week this past week, so that will be shared in early August!

Get ready! Cause here I come!

Review – FLASHFALL / FLASHTIDE by Jenny Moyer

I’m late to the game on these two, I know! A few months ago, right after I found out I was getting published by Autumn Arch, I wanted to stop in a local bookstore to see what was out there. There are only a few spots in the Des Moines area, and my wife and I were hanging out in Ankeny so we decided to stop in to Plot Twist Bookstore. I had a craving for something written by a local author, but everything I found just didn’t jump out at me (you know that feeling).

I was about to leave empty handed when I glanced at the YA section, and saw a sign for author Jenny Moyer. Not only did she write what looked like a cool series, but she was going to do a book signing at the event a month away. Win win if I like the book! I grabbed book one, FLASHFALL, and went on my way.

It was probably the best glenting pickup at a bookstore I’ve had since I bought my first Brandon Sanderson book.

FLASHFALL didn’t take any time to settle in to. Sometimes I have to fight to stay interested right off the bat until I get hooked on, but this book had me interested in the world right off the (flash) bat.

Something very unique happened to this world. When one thinks of a dystopian setting the automatic causes for it get narrowed down to a short list: nuclear fallout, overpopulation, flooding (Water World, anyone?), etc., you get the point. Jenny Moyer takes a giant curtain of intense energy and lays it down in the middle of the map! This forever alters all life and makes for a brutal world that our young heroes, Orion and Dram, must traverse through.

The story revolves around Orion and her quest to save her friends and free everyone from Alara’s oppression.

Orion rocks. I see her as a very unique character. Things don’t ever really go right for Orion. Throughout both books she just gets beat down over and over again. She makes rash decisions, and her plans rarely hatch out as she imagines. She fails multiple times in each book. I LOVE this about her, because she gets. Back. Up. Every. Time. She has plenty of motivation, whether it be her love for Dram, her mother and father (and dad..), her friends, promises made, or simply standing up for what is right.

Dram is just fierce. He loves fierce, fights fierce, speaks fierce, and lives fierce.

Every time something shitty happens to either of these two I just expect them to give up. They don’t. You think George R. R. Martin is cruel to his characters? Enter Jenny Moyer. These two wear rad bands that tell them how close to dying their slow deaths they are. Then they’re constantly surrounded and attacked by threats: Super charged Striders, super jerk conjurors, mutated flash gulls, flash bats, orbies, cordon rats, moles that can conjure elements, and invisible termits, but those pale in comparison to the ruthless council of Alara.

Both books are filled with plenty of twists to keep readers on edge. Some I expected, most I didn’t. There were a few flaws and things I nitpicked on, but overall both books are fantastic. Jenny Moyer paints a very detailed and immersive world (I feel ready to suit up, grab my axe, and tackle any nearby caves now!). FLASHFALL is my favorite of the two, but was very impressed with how FLASHTIDE wrapped things up. It’s a bit of a wilder ride than the first book, but I’m VERY picky about my endings. Almost every series I read I’m let down by the ending, but not true with this one!

Pick em up, read em, enjoy em. It’s a great adventure. I give them a definite seal of approval!

Also, in between reading book one and two I ended up attending Jenny Moyer’s book signing at Plot Twist, and we had a great conversation about all things writing. THANK YOU for the wonderful advice!