Book Reviews

Review: Daisy Jones & the Six

Well let me say that I was pretty much doomed to love this book.

Documentary. Dysfunction. Disappointment. Hardy, almost unreasonably steadfast love. 70s rock with all of the Fleetwood Mac and Eagles vibes. All things I am drawn toward.

This was just a really great book. My first from Taylor Jenkins Reid. Daisy Jones & the Six follows two rock stars, Daisy Jones and Billy Dunne–their lives leading to stardom, their addictions, disgraces, and huge egos.

Like the album featured in the book, Aurora, the novel is rife with tension and pain. But also like the album, there is hope. The story of the drugged out rockers with too poor senses of self-preservation manages to have a hero, Billy’s wife Camilla. As Billy muses later in the book, the world didn’t deserve her.

Book Reviews star wars

Review – Aftermath: Empire’s End by Chuck Wendig

The epic conclusion to the Aftermath trilogy!

Continuing the momentum from Life Debt, Chuck Wendig does not disappoint with Empire’s End.

Wendig does a great job balancing the individual character narratives while answering the lingering questions, namely what is Rax up to? and how is Norra going to fix it all?

This trilogy of a great showcase of why it’s important to have many different voices in the Star Wars canon. His style is unlike any other SW author that I’ve read, but it was so fitting for the story of the bitter end of the Galactic Empire. Plus he writes really great bad ass female leads who have meaningful, nuanced relationships with others and among themselves.

Norra Wexley was someone we didn’t know the Star Wars canon was missing until we got her

Five stars.

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Graphic Novel Review: Cash by Reinhard Kleist

Definitely a must read for those interested in the life of Johnny Cash. I was really only familiar with Cash through his music and the film Walk the Line. Interestingly, both that film and this graphic novel but Reinhard Kleist utilize the Folsom Prison performance as the climactic moment in the story.

Kleist, however, utilizes Folsom inmante, Glen Sherley as a partial narrator. Sherley sent a song to Cash, which the latter performed at the famous concert.

Four stars for this visual take on the life of Johnny Cash.

Book Reviews Enneagram

Review: Enneagram Transformations by Don Richard Riso

A great “on the go” Enneagram book. I recommend it for anyone interested in spiritual transformation and the work of reparenting one’s self. This short work by Don Riso is of course much more user-friendly if one has some familiarity with the increasingly popular typology (check out Riso/Hudson’s The Wisdom of the Enneagram, Rohr’s Enneagram in Christian Perspective, Hannah Pasch’s Millenneagram, and Huertz’s Sacred Enneagram).

Enneagram Transformations is a collection of “releases” and “affirmations” for each of the nine Types, though Riso offers a very brief introduction to the system up front.

I found many of the affirmations throughout the book very helpful, most especially for my own Type. Five stars.

Book Reviews

Review: Aftermath: Life Debt by Chuck Wendig

I had mixed feelings about the first book in the Aftermath trilogy, but Life Debt really delivered. 

Chuck Wendig’s brilliantly brings together Star Wars elements both old and new to continue telling his story in a galaxy far, far away. 

This book could almost stand independently of the first, which is definitely a strength. Though my investment in the characters primarily came from reading Aftermath.

Norra Wexley and her ragtag crew are off bagging and tagging Imperial targets for the fledgling New Republic. Leia Organa–still somewhat a political maveric, despite her central role in the Rebellion ‘s victory–enlists Norra and her team to find her lost husband. Han is desperately seeking a way to find Chewbacca, as the latter was taken due to a bad tip on a potential path toward liberating the Wookie homeworld of Kashyyyk.

Meanwhile, Grand Admiral Rae Sloane and the mysterious Gallius Rax are conspiring to revivify the Empire. Whether or not their aims coincide remains to be seen.

Five stars.

Book Reviews

Review: The Bands of Mourning by Brandon Sanderson

The Bands of Mourning will blow your mind with its developments related to the world of Scadrial and events in the Cosmere. Which may be it’s greatest weakness as a Mistborn novel.

The character development and emotional payoff in this book feel weaker than Shadows of Self, while the latter was weaker in terms of world building and general nerdiness.

I might be creating a false dichotomy here, but I felt similarly about Oathbringer (Stormlight Archive #3) in that each book had so much cool Cosmere stuff that characters took a back seat. Though Oathbringer had a better balance.

Don’t get me wrong, this book had some great moments for Wax and co. I mean, Steris. So so good.

Another respectable Mistborn novel. So much promised for book 4!

Cosmeric Faith Uncategorized

Cosmeric Faith Part 4: The Path

In this post, I want to consider the two main religions in the Wax and Wayne books and why I think the Path is one of the great contributions of the Cosmere to the world.

In Mistborn Era 2, the people of Elendel are primarily divided into two religious groups, Survivorists and Pathians. While both groups acknowledge Harmony as God, the latter pursue individual relationship with Him, and the former see him as more of a force. Survivorists look to Kelsier as their primary advocate and guide. So it seems the Pathians are the theists while the Church of the Survivor is more deist.

These are not the only two religions practiced in the basin, not to mention the rest of Scadrial. There is mention of Sliverism, which apparently focuses on the Lord Ruler. Though, despite his quasi-redemption, I’m not sure who would want to continue revering Rashek. The Church and the Path, though, have primary purchase on the devotional lives of the citizens of Elendel.

The Church of the Survivor somewhat parallels “high Church,” establishment Christianity. It is a religion of grand cathedrals, a religion of power with the death of its Hero at the center of its theology and ethics. It is the juxtaposition of weakness and triumphalism at the paradoxical heart of Christianity. As the more deist of the faiths, the Survivorists do not seek either deep personal communion with God or spiritual experiences in general. Amusingly, as Wax observes, Survivorists reverse the mists yet worship under grand glass domes. The mists are allowed in for certain special liturgies, but in general they are appreciated from a distance.

The Path has many different parallels in our world. It is like a mix of the simple, quiet faith of Quakerism (though the Path seems to have little focus on the community of the faithful) with elements of Buddhism. Indeed the Eightfold Path is central to Buddhist practice, and one name for early Christian faith was”The Way.”

Devotion in the Path primarily consists of solitary meditation. Not the grand worship of the cathedral, Pathians meet commune with God in stillness–in small Pathians temples, stagecoaches, or wherever.

More than Divine interface, however, the Path is primarily about how to be in the world. The Path is inspired by the humble, humanistic Terrisman-become-Deity, Harmony. It is not so much the way toward fulfillment but a way. A way that sees all of the other ways and loves them for what they are. It is about doing more good than harm.

The Path has the self-effacing quirkiness that one would expect from a Sazed-inspired faith. Harmony is not so much adored as appreciated. Revered, perhaps, but not worshipped. In fact, as in some Eastern devotion, worship of God may be more of a hindrance than a help on the journey. And as Ironeyes notes at the end of The Alloy of Law, Harmony expects the faithful to disagree with and challenge Him.

Brandon writes with a very open-minded take on religion. There are the devoted and the nominal in Mistborn. Hrathen and Dilaf show religious zeal in two different stages, the former going cold and the latter burning and consuming everything in its path. Lightsong is the god who does not believe in himself. There is the atheist Jasnah in Stormlight and the atheist-turned-deity Sazed in The Hero of Ages.

I think Sazed/Harmony acts as a focal point for all of these differing views. He has experienced it all and tried to consider all sides. Sazed has taken the treasury of faiths of the past and combined it with his his own humble godhood and left the Path, which I think is just the humanistic take on devotion that we needed in fantasy. This is not the theistic fiction of Lewis not neither is it atheistic or ambivalent toward faith. Some sort of devotion or belief is fundamental to being human in the Cosmere. But the details are less defined. There are many roads. Journey before destination, etc. And as I’ve written elsewhere, the Path is humanistic, as it shows that faith is part of life because it represents humanity’s striving for the best of itself.

Book Reviews

Book Review: Letterman: The Last Giant of Late Night, by Jason Zinoman

I don’t know why, but I have a fascination/low-key obsession with late night television and its history. Letterman is in many ways the progenitor of the swath of comedy that I enjoy, so a Letterman biography written two years after his retirement is right up my alley.

Zinoman’s treatment of the life of “the last great giant of late night,” is thorough and incisive without much of an obvious agenda. If there is a “take” on Letterman is this book, it’s that his legacy is complex and difficult to distill. The author considers Letterman’s self-effacing yet arrogant persona at the center of his comedy and how it inured him to some and yet repulsed others.

While the wide influence of Letterman and his three decades of work is impossible to deny, Zinoman also honestly examines the racism, xenophobia, and sexism present throughout the host’s tenure.

Four stars

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Review: Sea of Stars vol. 1 by Jason Aaron and Dennis Hallum

Excellent! Part Jungle Book, part space opera, and part Bear Grylls, Sea of Stars is a new book from Jason Aaron and Dennis Hallum.

In issue 1, a space trucker father and his son become separated in a cosmic incident.

The Dad is on a harrowing mission to find his son, but Kadyn has discovered that in the accident he has gained some mysterious powers. While the boy comes to thoroughly enjoy the space play that his powers enable, his newfound companions are baffled at what he can do–and especially what he can survive.

This book was endearing and intriguing. Plus it was beautiful. Stephen Green and Rico Renzi amplify the storytelling in all the right ways. It was cartoonish yet just gritty enough, fitting featuring an estranged boy and his badass dad.

Book Reviews

Review: Shadows of Self by Brandon Sanderson

I love this book. While at first I did not warm up to Wax and Wayne as I did to the Crew, this book just may be my favorite Mistborn novel.

Among other things, it’s a signpost of Sanderson’s growth as a writer. He nails religious doubt in a way hoped for by Hrathen’s arc in Elantris.

Oh and the interplay if genre in this book is excellent and I believe an indicator of the dynamic future of the series. Sanderson dances between spec fic, thriller, and even horror in this one.

Feelings run high is this book. Wax is confronted again by the tragedy of his past even at he continues to struggle with the boundaries imposed upon him by high society. Marasi makes more room for herself in the world and pushes toward her future.

This book is everything one might want in a sequel. It’s a bridge that can stand on its own. Although in fairness, it’s more of a book 1 of 3 with Alloy of Law being a sort of prequel.

Five stars.