Ty Johnston: life on the written page

Home to fantasy, horror and literary fiction author Ty Johnston

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Books read in 2018: No. 38 -- Ready Player One

by Ernest Cline

Started: July 11
Finished: July 16

Notes: This popular recent novel (and the movie based upon it, which I've not seen) is supposed to be a love story of sorts to pop culture of the last few decades, specifically video game culture. This is a topic of which I have some interest, though I wouldn't consider myself a massive gaming nerd (so to speak). Also, I've heard a lot good about this novel, but also some criticism, so I'll see where it goes.

Mini review: Not just pop culture in general, the 80s (and to some extent the late 70s) are the background material for this novel, so those who grew up during that period might be interested to read this. It is a good read, and fun. Imagine a future in which the Internet has become 3D and where everyone spends most of their time in it because the outside world, the real world, has totally turned to crap. The creator of this 3D Internet passes away and in his will leaves behind a game to be played to decide who will be his successor, who will gain all his money and be the head of his company. Our protagonist is a young man who sets out to win this prize, and along the way he faces real-world threats alongside of those within the digital environment. Thirty- and forty-somethings will likely find something here to enjoy. Not only is there a ton of nostalgia, but the story itself is quite inte

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Books read in 2018: No. 37 -- Mordenkainen's Tome of Foes

by Wizards of the Coast

Started: July 7
Finished: July 11

Notes: In case you didn't know, Mordenkainen is a powerful wizard within one of the worlds that is part of the Dungeons & Dragons game. This book, at least in part, covers rules for various monsters that characters can confront within the game. It's the first major monster update for the fifth edition of D&D.

Mini review: This book isn't necessary to playing or enjoying D&D, but its many monsters could prove useful to a Dungeon Master wanting to use some new or different enemies for player characters. The early chapters, nearly the first half of the book, go into some detail about the relationships of various creatures, and while some might find the information interesting, I prefer to come up with my own worlds and backgrounds, etc. A keeper, but not necessary for DMs or players.

Saturday, July 07, 2018

Books read in 2018: No. 36 -- The Bear and The Dragon

by Tom Clancy

Started: June 1
Finished: July 7

Notes: There was a time when I was a big Tom Clancy fan, but I eventually grew tired of his writing, for a variety of reasons. However, it's been a good long time since I've read anything by him, so I thought I'd turn to him once more and see if I he can revive some of the old spark in me. Plus, I'm going on a long trip, and since this is a long novel, I figure it'll do me for the majority of my vacation.

Mini review: I wanted something long to read to last a month-long vacation and I got, and then some. Russia discovers vast gold and oil deposits in Siberia, and China decides to invade to grab the deposits for themselves. War breaks out with the U.S. joining the fray on the side of the Russians. If I say any more, it would be giving too much away. The writing here is solid, but the whole rah-rah-everything-the-American-military-does-is-perfect-while-everyone-else-is-an-idiot attitude wears thin over 1,100 pages. I don't mean to sound unpatriotic, and I have nothing against U.S. military forces, but reality is more complex. Also, having been published at the tail end of the 20th Century, the political and military situations presented here seem almost quaint compared to the real world where 9-11 has occurred and politics has gone completely down the toilet, making this book read almost like wishful science fiction for another world. Anyway, this was a good read, but I have a feeling it'll be the last Clancy I touch for the reasons I pointed out.

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Books read in 2018: No. 35 -- Black Amazon of Mars

by Leigh Brackett

Started: May 30
Finished: May 31

Notes: I've not read a lot of Brackett, mostly short stories in one anthology or another, but I've been meaning to read more of her work, so here goes.

Mini review: This was actually an interesting, adventurous sci-fi novella. A mercenary of sorts finds himself embroiled in a war between barbarian tribes and a city on Mars, then is forced to face dangers from far in Mars' past to bring about a conclusion to not only the war, but to an old enemy ready to take over Mars once again. A fun read, especially if you like older science fiction and space opera from the 1950s and 1960s.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Books read in 2018: No. 34 -- LZR-1143: Within

by Bryan James

Started: May 29
Finished: May 30

Notes: Been a while since I've read any indie authors, so I thought I'd give this zombie novella (and its author) a try.

Mini review: This was an interesting story. A group of online bank workers are trapped within their corporate building while a zombie apocalypse breaks out outside, and of course they have to find a way to survive ... or not. The writing is fairly strong, the characters interesting enough, and the story itself kept up my interest. I might have to check out this writer again.

Monday, May 28, 2018

Books read in 2018: No. 33 -- Horrorstör

by Grady Hendrix

Started: May 26
Finished: May 28

Notes: This comedy horror novel hit fairly big a couple of years ago and I've been meaning to check it out, so here's my opportunity. It's about a haunted furniture store that's a spoof of Ikea stores, so maybe it'll be amusing, and possibly horrifying.

Mini review: This was actually pretty good. The humor is quite mild, and I didn't find the story overly terrifying, but the writing is fairly strong and the tale was interesting enough to keep me flipping pages pretty quickly. My favorite part was the ending because I felt that, while not trend-making or outrageous, it went places most horror novels don't, showing the aftermath and the effects of the horror upon survivors, but also showing an opportunity for making things right. Worth checking out. And not gruesome or overly dark, for those who shy from such things.

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Books read in 2018: No. 32 -- Let Me Off at the Top!

by Ron Burgundy

Started: May 21
Finished: May 26

Notes: Sometimes you see a book that's just so goofy, you want to give it a try. I have no idea who the real author is, even after an online search, because ... for those of you who might not know, Ron Burgundy is not a real person but a fictional character from a series of movies. The actor who portrays Ron is Will Ferrell, but I find it unlikely (though not impossible) that Ferrell has penned this book. Anyway, this is supposed to be an autobiography of Burgundy's life. The first movie with Ron was quite funny, in my opinion, the second one less so but still not awful, so maybe I'll enjoy this.

Mini review: This wasn't as funny as I had hoped it would be, but it gave me a few chuckles here and there, and for the most part it kept with the Ron Burgundy character fairly well. If you're a big fan of the movies, you might want to check this out, otherwise you can skip it.