Category: Journal

Master

Happy New Year 2020!

Happy New Year from the West Coast. It’s been a crazy one. Moved to California from Japan, only to go back to Okinawa for a bit, so I could go adventure through Malaysia before coming back to California.

Most importantly, and the best thing about 2019, was all the wonderful moments I shared with my wife and daughter. I look forward to a lot more in 2020.

Barbarian Book Club: 27 December 2019, Best of the Year Edition!

It’s that time of year again, that weird, awkward few days in between Christmas and New Years Day, when all the cat-lady book bloggers put out their best of the year lists.

I’m not a cat-lady, I’m actually allergic to cats, or a book blogger, but I read a lot. Especially considering the amount of travel, deployment, and child-raising, I do each year. Not only that, but I happen to have impeccable taste.

So I’m going to list a few books I read this year that I think are worth your time. For the sake of the list I’m going to exclude my re-read of The Brothers Karamazov, which is the greatest novel ever written, and if you consider yourself a peer or even an aspirant to my level of discourse you must read it several times.

FANTASY:

My favorite fantasy novel this year was Guy Gavriel Kay’s latest A Brightness Long Ago. Kay writes adult fantasy with impeccable style. He is one of two writers of fantasy that I list as a favorite, the other being Robin Hobb. A Brightness Long Ago is a fantastic bit of fantasy set in an alternate Renaissance Italy, that is character driven and thematically deep. A must read.

HISTORY:

The Battle for Spain: The Spanish Civil War 1936-1939 by Anthony Beevor was an excellent overview of one of the most interesting and often overlooked bits of 20th Century conflict. The Spanish Civil War is chilling, especially when one looks at the cultural events going on around us.

INDY SFF:

The Last Ancestor by Alexander Hellene is a fantastic piece of science fiction adventure that reads like a throwback to a better time, a time where novels were action packed, heroic, and fun, instead of ironic and nihilistic. I look forward to reading the follow up that is being written as we speak. I have a feeling Alexander has a lot of good stuff in store for the new pulp indy crowd. Read his stuff.

HONORABLE MENTIONS:

Scaramouche by Rafael Sabatini. I just finished this one and loved it. An action packed adventure set during the early days of the French Revolution. The novel is not only fast paced and exciting but also intellectually and philosophically satisfying in its discussion of class, privileged, duty, and political responsibility. Scaramouche has one of my favorite villains and does the famous surprise reveal about sixty years ahead of its time.

Captain Alatriste by Artura Perez-Reverte. This is actually book #1 in The Adventures of Captain Alatriste. I read this and the follow up and I highly recommend the series. A swashbuckling tale set in 17th century Spain that follows a soldier and sword for hire who get’s himself entangled in court politics and mischief. Sword duels, prostitutes, evil consorts, corrupt inquisitors, massive pike and shot battles during the 30 years war, and basically everything you ever wanted out of a modern Three Musketeers. Historical action pulp at its best.

There you have it, my best of the year cat-lady book list. Do yourself a favor, click on the links above and bask in the glory of my fantastic taste.

Entertainment & Joy


Enjoy life.

I read a lot. Novels, history, and political science. I also listen to a lot of audiobooks and podcasts discussing writing and literature. The written word is my preferred form of relaxation and entertainment.

Reading is not my job, finishing novels is not my duty. I read histories and biographies because they provide me hours of entertainment and bring me joy. My primary reason for reading is not self-improvement, or professional gain. I’m not a paid reviewer or critic, and I have no responsibility to engage with any of the work. My reading and writing is strictly for my own pleasure.

Because of this I have no qualms about abandoning novels after a few chapters. I have no reservations about giving up on a series after a disappointing episode. I recently gave up on Tim Mason’s The Darwin Affair, a plodding historical mystery that lacked mystery and did not capture my imagination. I got a good halfway through the book and decided that spending time in that world did not entertain me and did not bring me any joy.  Sometimes I stop a series because I don’t like the aesthetic. Larry Correia’s Monster Hunter books are fun reads but I don’t enjoy urban fantasy action. I read the first, found it fun, yet, not to my taste, so I moved on. I have no compulsion to slog through entertainment I don’t enjoy.

I wanted to talk about this topic because my social media feeds are currently overwhelmed with Star Wars negativity. Post after post about how much people didn’t like the new movie. Posts from people that hated the last five movies. My question to them is why did you go see it? You didn’t enjoy the last one so why put yourself in a situation that brings discomfort. Entertainment should bring you joy, it should relax you, or make you think, or enrich you. It should not bring you so much displeasure.

I don’t understand the mindset that causes an individual to consume entertainment that they don’t enjoy. Why force yourself to read novels you don’t like? Why sit through a movie or television show that doesn’t bring you joy? So you can post negativity about it? The truth is nobody cares. Nothing you have to say about it matters to anyone and most likely your opinion will not be seen by many.

Life is short and often filled with negativity. Do not wallow in it. Do not create more of it. Novels, art, film, plays, and videogames are all forms of entertainment. They are meant to bring joy. If you are not enjoying yourself move on to something that does entertain you. Life is too short to focus on things you don’t like and spread negativity.

There is so much great material out there. Find it, read it, watch it, post about it, share it with your friends. Find what you love and make that the topic of your posts and videos. The world does not need another negative take down of Star Wars or whatever the latest trend. Your time is better spent creating art and enjoying yourself.

It’s been awhile old friends.

It’s two in the afternoon on Columbus day. My wife is napping with the kid and I’ve grown bored of trolling all the typical Columbus Day lib-posts, and Morrissey keeps popping up on my Spotifiy mix. In a few hours when everyone wakes up we will head out to our friends for dinner. Life is good.

Life has been busy. Between my life draining job and my responsibilities to my wife and kid I have very little time to myself. That small window of time is mostly taken by reading, writing fiction, and spending time with my wife watching movies or just hanging out. This place has been suffering. Mostly because it was always intended as a author site but right now I don’t really have a lot to put out.

I’ve written some short stories and have some more in the process but none of them really match the indy market. I don’t know where to submit them. I’m coming to the realization that my work doesn’t really jive with what editors like. Especially because I’m using the short story format to experiment with voice and style. I expect that in the future I will put out a collection of stories. I’m just not sure that they make a coherent product at this point.

More importantly I’ve started the groundwork on a novel. The last few months have been dedicated to research. I’m currently in the outline phase and plan on starting the first draft around the Thanksgiving holiday. The goal is to finish and publish before I head out on another South Pacific adventure next spring.

But, I digress. The point of this post was to discuss my plan for this blog. I’ve feel that a lot of fantasy review blogs suck. I can’t stand reading most of them. So instead of whining I’m going to start writing more in-depth reviews of books I think need general attention. I’m going to focus on indy books, specifically in the pulp-rev adjacent scene.

The reviews I plan on writing will be comprehensive. I’ll take recommendations but I’m rather picky when it comes to what I want to read so I might never get around to doing one on a book you wrote or would like reviewed.

I created a badge system. My reviews will only have three ratings. Blank, Honorable, and Golden. I will go in depth about what each entails but expect the majority of books to get blanks.