Categories
Book Reviews

Review: The Haunting of Tram Car 015 by P. Djèlí Clark

A finely illustrated cover with creative spark and energy that mostly matches the book’s interior.

Blurb:

Cairo, 1912: The case started as a simple one for the Ministry of Alchemy, Enchantments and Supernatural Entities ― handling a possessed tram car.

Soon, however, Agent Hamed Nasr and his new partner Agent Onsi Youssef are exposed to a new side of Cairo stirring with suffragettes, secret societies, and sentient automatons in a race against time to protect the city from an encroaching danger that crosses the line between the magical and the mundane.


Overall, The Haunting of Tram Car 015 worked well for a ghost hunting story, novella in size. I was surprised at the listing of the book @ 144 pages. It fell short of that size with the last some odd pages being a preview for another book, totaling in at around 75 pages. But, with The Haunting of Tram Car 015 being my second read by this author; It didn’t work as well for me as A Dead Djinn in Cairo ( both these books reside in the same fictional universe ).

Why didn’t it work as well? Simply put, The Haunting of Tram Car 015 didn’t work as well as well as the other book I have read by Clark because it lacked poetic form and mostly just explained things verbosely without much style at all. While some readers prefer the more verbose, I do not and rather to have some abstract thoughts thrown in here and there, just to make sure I’m paying attention.

The only thing that saved this book for me was it’s mention of lore and things specific to the universe and it’s ties into Agent Hamed’s crew and collogues in the adventure to find out what exactly was wrong with tram car 015. ★★★✬☆ Three and half stars out of five for The Haunting of Tram Car 015.

Guys and gals, until next time – may you find all the happiness that your life can fit in it’s happy spot – S.D. McKinley.

Categories
Book Reviews

DNF Review @ 41%: And the Hippos Were Boiled in their Tanks by Burroughs and Kerouac

I’d say this cover matches the inside of this book. Blah.

Blurb:

In the summer of 1944, a shocking murder rocked the fledgling Beats. William S. Burroughs and Jack Kerouac, both still unknown, we inspired by the crime to collaborate on a novel, a hard-boiled tale of bohemian New York during World War II, full of drugs and art, obsession and brutality, with scenes and characters drawn from their own lives. Finally published after more than sixty years, this is a captivating read, and incomparable literary artifact, and a window into the lives and art of two of the twentieth century’s most influential writers.


The occasional internal laugh is what kept me reading this through the beginning and in hopes that the noise would materialize into a great story . . . but, it kept going on and on with what seemed to be the continuation of well, just more noise. I realize that this book stands for these influential author’s collaboration before they were even famous, but the problem is that I haven’t read anything by Kerouac before and only one book by Burroughs, in which I only remember one thing from the whole book and do not remember the title. My tolerance is 100 pages of noise before something drops to get me hooked and this book, and I either missed the boat altogether or it’s just plain noise and it gets ★★☆☆☆ two out of five stars for what I happened to read.

Guys and gals, until next time – may you find all the happiness that your life can fit in it’s happy spot – S.D. McKinley.

Categories
Music Resources

Friday Fun Trifecta #15 – Shadow Edition w/ Book Haul

If you remember a while back, we did a segment here on SDMcKinley.com called Friday Fun Links. Fun links have evolved into Friday Fun Trifecta, where I will feature one thing of each – music, book and visual arts. Welcome to Friday Fun Trifecta #15, in appreciation for artwork.

It’s Friday again. How am I doing? Today, I feel great. I went through my hospital stent and it ended up being a sort of vacation as well, just to get away from everything for a little while, which was a silver linings of sorts. I am looking forward to getting back into the web serial soon. So I need some good vibes / prayers to write something you and others can get something out of while also enjoying what you are looking at.

What does your shadow mean to you?

From one perspective, the shadow “is roughly equivalent to the whole of the Freudian unconscious;” and Carl Jung himself asserted that “the result of the Freudian method of elucidation is a minute elaboration of man’s shadow-side unexampled in any previous age.” Contrary to a Freudian definition of shadow, however, the Jungian shadow can include everything outside the light of consciousness and may be positive or negative. Because one tends to reject or remain ignorant of the least desirable aspects of one’s personality, the shadow is largely negative. There are, however, positive aspects that may also remain hidden in one’s shadow (especially in people with low self-esteemanxieties, and false beliefs). “Everyone carries a shadow,” Jung wrote, “and the less it is embodied in the individual’s conscious life, the blacker and denser it is.” It may be, in part, one’s link to more primitive animal instincts, which are superseded during early childhood by the conscious mind.

Visual:

Shadow by MoishPain

Music:

Breathe No More by Evanescence – lyrics @ Genius.com

Book:

Shadowmarch by Tad Williams

“That is the problem with rumors,” said Avin Brone. “It is very hard to prove that things are not true—much more difficult than proving they are.”

― Tad Williams, Shadowmarch

“Perhaps a heart was indeed like a piece of dry birchwood, and could only take fire and burn brightly once—that any fire that came after would be only an ember, smaller and cooler.”

― Tad Williams, Shadowmarch

[ Quote Source: goodreads.com ]

Book Haul, courtesy of Mr. Bookstooge’s Giveaway:

A special thanks goes out to Mr. Bookstooge this week for hooking me up with these lovely books via his giveaway. I’m quite busy today, so I won’t be putting images or links, but hopefully sometime soon you can get my two bits in the form of a review. With this and my Christmas haul, I sure don’t need to be buying any books anytime soon!

Guys and gals, until next time – may you find all the happiness that your life can fit in it’s happy spot – S.D. McKinley.

Categories
Book Reviews Other Reviews

Review: Big Damn Sin City: The Hard Good Bye: Part #5 and #6

All images are © 2014 Dark Horse Books / Frank Miller, All opinions are my own.

Introduction:

Previously, we covered Part 4 of The Hard Goodbye. Now, we have a continuation with Part #5 and #6

WARNING: This book most certainly is NSFW and only for adults. I will do my best to leave the vulgarities out of it so that everyone can enjoy. Although, if you can stomach the madness to achieve the full effect, a proper purchase of the source materials is recommended.

WARNING: Spoilers ahead: In depth review including respectable, occasional snaps of the art work and surrounding thoughts.

Big Damn Sin City: The Hard Goodbye: Part 5

Marv is sleeping. Restlessly. He cannot sleep because he is excited. Thinking about how he hates being seen in the sun of day and there is nothing to do until the sun comes out, he then explains his perspective of the day riders.

Taking to the streets, he gives some guy named Tommy a swirly, looking for more information about Goldie’s death. He personifies Sin City like the place is a “she” and thinks about how great it is to be alive. Another unnamed person gets slammed onto the pavement while Marv is in a car.

Now, he goes to church, but not to pray and what seems to be confession time:

What seems to be a confession, turns into an interrogation of the preacher. about Goldie. The preacher gives a name of “Roark”, which is either a lead or a direct reference to the people responsible for Goldie’s death. Marv isn’t sure of the validity of the preachers information. The preacher reassures Marv it is good information and there is a farm he can go to to find out more, and he also asks Marv if Goldie is worth dying for. Marv kills the preacher with three shots and says, “Amen”, lights a cigarette and steals the preacher’s Mercedes vehicle, stating that all modern cars look like “electric shavers”.

A car approaches. The driver looks like Goldie, the mysterious woman from the end of Part 4 and hits Marv a couple of times with the car and shoots a couple of times.

Marv escapes and continues to drive up the hill, to the farm. He thinks about how the woman looked just like Goldie, but no, it couldn’t have been her. He forgot to take his medicine and that’s why he is “seeing things”. It’s bad when you forget to take your medicine when you have a “condition”.

Big Damn Sin City: The Hard Goodbye: Part 6

The Mercedes gets parked at a diner, about two miles away from the farm, taking to the woods. Marv is scared of the woods and not much else.

Now at the farm, Marv gets a cold sensation in hit gut and he always trusts it because it hasn’t failed him in the past. People have died wrongly here. A wolf comes snarling and Marv fights the “pooch” out of lack of options to avoid it.

There was blood on the wolf’s breath and Marv knows it well. A stranger appears behind Marv as he finds a human bone. The man is wearing Chuck All-Stars and kicks him in the neck swiftly. Marv has great trouble in this fight and ends up getting sledged by a hammer. Marv suspects this is the man responsible for Goldie’s death and then Marv is knocked unconscious:

Marv sees the light at the end of the tunnel, but awakens on a tiled floor.

A woman is here with him. Taxidermized heads hang on the wall, on with a rose tattoo on one of the victim’s jawline. Evidently the man who owns the farm is a cannibal. The woman in the room is Lucille, his parole officer. They conversate about the situation, Lucille is telling Marv that the farm owner is, in fact a killer. The man has already deduced Lucille’s hand and he made her watch him do it. Horrible. Lucille screams about it. Marv gives Lucille his coat for comfort.

Lucille tells Marv that he “has brought big trouble this time” and that “Whoever is behind this has got his connections– right in the department.” Marv is trying to rip the grate out the window to escape.

They conversate some more and Lucille isn’t buying it that someone named Roark is behind all this. Lucille tells Marv that Goldie was a “hooker” and a top dollar one, but he didn’t know that. A car pulls up at the farm, a car with a V8 engine. The car calls out to “Kevin”, and to come quickly. Marv hears Kevin’s name which is the killer.

My Thoughts:

I really didn’t like that Marv killed the preacher, but my suspicion is that when the preacher asked Marv if Goldie was worth dying for, that he heard a death threat and / or made an example out of him. But then again, how does the preacher know about the killer previously? Strange, very strange, indeed.

I’m still partly hung up that Goldie never did die and am looking for an indication that the mysterious woman is or is not, in fact Goldie. There are many convoluted things going on!

Guys and gals, until next time – may you find all the happiness that your life can fit in it’s happy spot – S.D. McKinley.

Categories
Book Reviews Other Reviews

Review: Brandon Sanderson’s Dark One Vol. 1 – Graphic Novel

Splendid cover here representing the true heart of this material.

I completed this graphic novel review in exchange for a free digital copy via NetGalley.com.

Blurb:

From #1 New York Times Bestselling, Hugo Award-winning author, Brandon Sanderson (The Mistborn Trilogy, The Stormlight Archive series), along with Nathan Gooden, Jackson Lanzing, and Collin Kelly, comes Dark One, the first book in a series of original graphic novels, from Vault Comics.

Some worlds are made to be broken.

Paul Tanasin is a young man haunted by visions of a dark and fantastic world visions he initially believes are hallucinations. But when he discovers they are prophecies from Mirandus, a world in which he’s destined to become a fearsome destroyer, he’ll have to embrace the fear, rise up as the Dark One, and shatter everything. Dark One examines the dual roles we often take on in life―the ability to be a savior as well as a destroyer.


Lets start this out by talking a bit about mental health, which is what our protagonist starts out believing his ( Paul ) hallucinations are a product of his own mind and is seeing a shrink about it. Yes, he hides the delusions at first, possibly embarrassed about what people might think because of his supposed delusions. He doesn’t even tell his shrink. Things like this can fester into an uncontrollable flame if not talked about: but we should hold discretion about who we talk to about it. What makes me especially mad is when people intently fester someone’s mental health flame in the completely wrong way in order for some sort of domination. Fun fact: very little known species outside of humans antagonize out of joy or get laughter from other’s misfortune. If you’ve watched bloopers or funny videos on YouTube.com where people get hurt, then you laugh you have participated as well. Don’t worry, it’s a natural reaction as I have as well; I only aim to get your gears turning . . . I mean, think about it. Don’t get me wrong: a bit of pressure is a good thing, if applied properly – so the line is not very black and white which leads to the main theme in this book along with a contrast between what might be considered a sort of utopian society where black and white is clearly drawn:

A clear contrast between our world and the world beyond in The Dark One Vol. 1

The good ‘ol debate of good and evil, the yin and the yang is what this book hammers into the ground. Brandon Sanderson’s The Dark One Vol. 1 sincerely addresses these lines about how what is good and what is evil exclaims the fact that it is never as easy as black and white and does a stellar job at it by addressing something called the narrative which is a predestine story across two different lands.

If you had to pick a side and the sides were called darkness and lightness, do you know which you would pick? If the narrative was pre-destined would that change your answer? This is deeeeeeeeeeeeep.

Paul is followed by a ghost named Nikka that is his sister, but Paul claims he doesn’t have a sister. Upon reading the book, this becomes clear in the story and Brandon Sanderson and the artists do a splendid job covering the issue of good vs. evil in regards to pre-destiny that is completely re-written as the story closes. Even though I received this for free, I do plan on buying a copy at some point. It was just that good.

I haven’t read any of Sanderson’s other work, but this book leaves me wondering if his other words stand up to this at all.

Recommendation:

While not particularly cutting edge in the realm of good vs evil, Sanderson employs modern story telling techniques in order to contrast our world, which is not so black and white with a otherworld where black and white is very cut and dry, leaving us with a the grass is not always greener on the other side mentality, which is great and refreshing at the same time. ★★★★★ Five stars out of five all day, every day.

Do you think there is such a thing as good and evil? Do you know anyone that you believe is completely evil or completely good?

Guys and gals, until next time – may you find all the happiness that your life can fit in it’s happy spot – S.D. McKinley.

Categories
Resources

New Side Hobby: Ham Radio

Featured image source: spectrum.ieee.org

With all the apocalyptical things going on, there’s no better way to equip yourself than with the primal. I have chose to do this by buying primitive things such as camping supplies and getting to know the ins and out of ham radio.

What is Ham Radio?

Amateur Radio (ham radio) is a popular hobby and service that brings people, electronics and communication together. People use ham radio to talk across town, around the world, or even into space, all without the Internet or cell phones. It’s fun, social, educational, and can be a lifeline during times of need. [See also: ARRL on the Purpose of Amateur Radio.]

From: arrl.org

Anyone can listen on ham radio, but in order to communicate you need a license. How am I prepping for the license you ask? With the official ARRL Ham Radio License Manual, of course:

I’m just getting into it now, learning about the frequency ranges for pre-defined spectrums (VLF, LF, HF, etc. ) and taking my sweet time with it, so don’t expect me to be a licensed tech or expert any time soon.

What equipment did I start out with? That’s another great question. While this device is not equipped to go more than around 10 miles without an aftermarket antenna upgrade, it will let me get used to pushing buttons, because that is what I do best:

Image source: radioddity.com

A special thanks goes out to my mother for getting this for my birthday!

Guys and gals, until next time – may you find all the happiness that your life can fit in it’s happy spot – S.D. McKinley.

Categories
Book Reviews Other Reviews

Review: The Vain (2021) – Graphic Novel

Red water fading to purple? I don’t know if I’d be drinking and floating on THAT. 😬

This review was completed in exchange for a free digital graphic novel via NetGalley.com

Blurb:

Spanning nearly a century in time, The Vain chronicles the criminal lives of four sinful and stylish blood bank-robbing vampires. 

Chicago, 1941. A blood bank is held up in a robbery, but no cash is taken—only blood. It’s the latest in a string of similar robberies and as the United States prepares to enter World War II, FBI Agent Felix Franklin is certain it’s part of a wider plot to weaken the United States by depriving it of its blood supply. But the truth is much more sinister.

The four robbers are vampires: immortal, physically powerful, and after decades of honing their skills, practically untraceable. But time goes on and the vampires—who call themselves The Vain—stay the same in a world that is rapidly changing around them. As security measures evolve, stealing blood is harder every day. And with every decade that passes, Agent Franklin gets closer to finding them. Capturing them. Ending them.

The Vain is a story about wild, eternal youth, reckless rebellion, endless love, and how in the end…maybe it is better to burn out than fade away.


Vampires killing Nazi’s? Yes. Working in the shadows of the government? Yes. Those things make for a great story telling basis. Nitty gritty situations is what makes for favorable entertainment and the question is: do the story tellers and art magicians succeed in building a solid foundation for the story and get all the little proverbial kinks right?

Example of art style inside The Vain – while not my most favored art style, I am mostly acceptant of it. These artists use texture overlays quite a bit and it turned out well.

For the most part, the answer is Yes. This is presented like a comic should be with consistency in style and form of story with fun and graphic representation of violence and blood, following four vampires through USA history. This story starts off with a bank robbery to get blood stored away in a safety deposit box and is light and fun, not getting too serious about anything, then dives deeper into the government using any resources available for the country, including the four vampires.

I’m not an expert on Vampires or Nazis of things, but that doesn’t matter because I still very much enjoyed with this book had to offer which is a behind the scenes look at American history in the 1940s and into future decades, finally ending in present day, with plenty of impalements for the mortals and blood drinking for the immortals to advance the agenda . . . drugs . . . and vomit.

Variables change with time and so must your strategy. The Vain covers these with different places in different times like the U.S.S.R. and Cuba in regards to illegal activity and spying and USA’s stronghold on it’s national security in relation to organized crimes of Vampires. The Vain weighs in at ★★★★☆ four out of five stars for great fun.

Guys and gals, until next time – may you find all the happiness that your life can fit in it’s happy spot – S.D. McKinley.

Categories
Photography

Camping / Hiking / Helen Spring Trip #1 2021

We had a great time refreshing with nature for two whole nights this past weekend. Thanks to my sister for a solid recommendation on where to go, which was a wonderful spot called Hemlock Falls, GA, USA. Misty took most of these pictures with a Canon EOS Rebel T7.

Hemlock Falls, GA, USA:

This rock is at the beginning of the trail. To get to the falls, I estimated it was around 3-4 miles rounds trip.

Helen, GA, USA:

Guys and gals, until next time – may you find all the happiness that your life can fit in it’s happy spot – S.D. McKinley.

Categories
Music Resources

Friday Fun Trifecta #14 – Love Edition

If you remember a while back, we did a segment here on SDMcKinley.com called Friday Fun Links. Fun links have evolved into Friday Fun Trifecta, where I will feature one thing of each – music, book and visual arts. Welcome to Friday Fun Trifecta #13, in appreciation for artwork.

It’s Friday again. How am I doing? Yesterday was rough, but I got through it, thankfully unscathed and in tact. I have terrible anxiety sometimes and it comes out as flipping me into overdrive. I’m hoping for a great weekend filled with positivity, laughter, love and peace, lifting the ones up in my life that help me day in and day out, putting their differences aside, but also firmly standing up for what they obviously believe in. I think we should definitely stand up for what we believe as individuals. You know, we all have times when we clash and have differences ( which is a blessing in itself ), but at the end of the day I believe it’s true and carefully precision’d consideration that really takes us down through there, encompassing all things and ideas possible in order to come to a nice, solid conclusion. THAT shows careful consideration and love for yourself and others around you.

What does love mean to you?

Visual:

+Love Beyond The Stars+ by ERA-7

Music:

Lyrics @ Genius.com – this is one of my most favored electronic artists a.k.a John Gooch.

Book:

Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson – I’m currently reading Anathem by Neal Stephenson, along with a couple others, but it’s good enough, so far, that I went searching out this other book that I have no idea about.

“She’s a woman, you’re a dude. You’re not supposed to understand her. That’s not what she’s after…. She doesn’t want you to understand her. She knows that’s impossible. She just wants you to understand yourself. Everything else is negotiable.”

― Neal Stephenson, Snow Crash

“To condense fact from the vapor of nuance.”

― Neal Stephenson, Snow Crash

[ Quote Source: goodreads.com ]

Bonus:

Check out all the free, legit books @ The Open Library.

Guys and gals, until next time – may you find all the happiness that your life can fit in it’s happy spot – S.D. McKinley.

Categories
Book Reviews

Review: The Celestine Prophecy by James Redfield

I don’t care about this cover. It could have been designed in Microsoft Paint . . . or lithography. It’s not creative, but simple and minimalistic.

Blurb:

The international bestseller.

A book that captures ‘the spiritual moment’.

Are three decades of interest in modern physics, ecology, mystical religion and interpersonal psychology finally synthesizing into a new spiritual ‘common sense’? Are we now beginning to live this new common sense? Can it become the dominant paradigm of the next century?

An ancient manuscript has been found in Peru. Its contents: nine insights the human race is predicted to grasp as we enter an era of true spiritual awareness.

In this gripping adventure-tale, James Redfield offers a compelling vision of the new spiritual understanding that is emerging in human culture. You will instantly recognize the truth of the First Insight: in each of our lives occur mysterious coincidences– sudden, unexplained events that, once interpreted correctly, serve to guide and direct our actions.

Join the adventure and let this synchronistic perception guide you through a daring search for the remaining insights. Each will be found in turn, and each will clarify how a growing link with the spiritual is relentlessly transforming human life.

Reading like a story of high adventure, but having the in-depth effect of a spiritual parable, The Celestine Prophecy will take you on a journey that will lighten your soul, and connect you with a vision and an experience that is already changing the world.


It’s been eight and a half eons ( or so it feels ) since I read this book, even so it resides in a special place inside my mind, one of those books you pick up and it changes your whole perspective on life and everything around, and / or it affirms things you have suspected all along, but never had affirmations. An interesting thing is one of the categories on Amazon lists it as: Occult Metaphysical Phenomena. Don’t be fooled, this book is nothing but positivity and assisting your personal connection with the spiritual energy all around and is presented in a mostly unbias manner.

The format of the book is creatively thought out and is also told this way before you start reading: The Celestine Prophecy is laid out in a fiction format to tell about non-fiction things.

One thing that springs to mind when thinking back about my readings with The Celestine Prophecy are two things that have to do with even our spiritual connection to our distant life partners, plants. According to the book, it matters on how we interact with our plants and our interactions with them can even improve their quality of life. Amazing!

Another thing that sprang into mind about The Celestine prophecy is the way we interact with each other, something called control dramas, and with it details exactly how we as humans give and take energy from each other, including our methods for doing just that, even if we don’t realize we are doing it – We do. It makes perfect sense, but I personally rather favor the mentality of believing that we are in fact one energy, that co-habitating in the best way possible together as a decision as-so-best for everyone involved, that puts me on a less defensive and more comfortable stance than thinking someone is just out to control my energy all day, every day. Don’t get me wrong, it’s enlightening to say the very least, but a bit instigative at the same time.

EDIT: Something I noticed while looking up the control dramas is that they are all negative. Surely there are some positive control dramas. But this book insists on focusing on the negative in that regard.

What do you think about spirituality?

Recommendation:

The Celestine Prophecy is way more than essential reading as non-fiction, even though it is presented in fiction format for anyone that isn’t fully or even just getting into being familiar with spiritual energies and relations to the world around yourself and other people. ★★★★★ five stars out of five.

Guys and gals, until next time – may you find all the happiness that your life can fit in it’s happy spot – S.D. McKinley.