Goodreads review • The Complete Works of H.P. Lovecraft

The Complete Works of H.P. LovecraftThe Complete Works of H.P. Lovecraft by H.P. Lovecraft
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The best aspect about this collection is also its worst: Lovecraft needed to grow. This means that the initial stories and tales can be very tough, long-winded and over-the-top in the typical Lovecraftian fashion of writing. It’s only half-way that things settle into a better pace, tales become more comprehensive and gripping while gently building up an horrific atmosphere.

During the final third of the collection everything comes together and there’s a determination to the stories even though certain patterns become a bit too repetitive. Completely worth it though. Just be warned that at the start you may wonder what you’ve gotten yourself into.

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Goodreads review • Beowulf

BeowulfBeowulf by Unknown
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

OK, severely underestimated this. Reading through it on the train is maybe a bit too casual to tackle all the aspects. Still it is interesting to rummage through it even when unprepared.

The focus on what people said and how they are perceived is way more important than the actual actions they perform (kind of the exact opposite to how entertainment is consumed these days). The focus upon said aspects can make it difficult to read through, almost as if you are missing out. A lot to unpack here then and being able to delve into the etymology of certain words and concepts is really great. That said, this requires a reread later on in a more dedicated fashion.

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Goodreads review • Children of Dune

Children of DuneChildren of Dune by Frank Herbert
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Where Messiah was clearly an in-between and a capstone to whatever Paul was attempting, Children picks up the pieces and jumbles them together into a new tale. It starts off a bit jarring having familiar characters thrust into not wholly applicable roles, but once the dust has settled around them it becomes way more confident about its direction.

In many ways than one, it becomes more physical again even though it maintains its focus on the metaphysical aspects. The physical aspect becoming even a bit of a trump card at the end. I can see how this would clash especially with the way the setting has been subtly built into this kind of balance. But the upheaval of said balance with something that feels straight out of toy-based cartoon series actually works in its favour. Physical transformation runs through the setting in the background and having it thrust into the foreground in a spectacular way balances the lot.

Really enjoyable, but I can see how for some the series can “end” here.

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Goodreads review • The Lost World

The Lost WorldThe Lost World by Arthur Conan Doyle
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I’m not entirely sure what to think of this, the tale in itself is fun but the high-and-mighty viewpoint is not compatible with my current tastes. At times I was completely annoyed by the characters. Challenger is presented as a bit of a dick on purpose, but none of the characters came close as to being appreciated. Really wanted everything to blow up in their faces, because then at least the characters left some of their annoying aspects at home.

Don’t think I’ll be reading much more of this series.

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Goodreads review • Personal Kanban: Mapping Work – Navigating Life

Personal Kanban: Mapping Work - Navigating LifePersonal Kanban: Mapping Work – Navigating Life by Jim Benson
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A nice to read book that provides a clear way of applying kanban on a personal level. I cant say it was eye-opening having worked with the practice for so long, but it did provide me with an assortment of tips and tricks to streamline it.

If you’re still stuck in to-do lists this comes highly recommended. For kanban-users it proves to be a nice expansion.

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Goodreads review • Hagakure: The Book of the Samurai

Hagakure: The Book of the Samurai (Xist Classics)Hagakure: The Book of the Samurai by Tsunetomo Yamamoto
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This book oddly enough contains advice on how to urinate and defecate. While I appreciate the intention, the advice feels slightly out of place next to the oodles of reason to commit Seppuku. (One does not lead to the other for some reason.)

While the advice might at some points find good soil to sprout in, most of it feels just odd. Depending too much on the context of its time, it lacks the conceptual level of The Book of Five Rings and its ilk to allow its teaching to be broadly applied.

As such this is a curious thing to read through and more suitable as a snapshot of its era than a fount of wisdom.

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Goodreads review • Dune Messiah

Dune Messiah (Dune Chronicles #2)Dune Messiah by Frank Herbert
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Dune remains fascinating. Its universe, its clash of cultures and its eyes wide-open approach to storytelling. Reading the first chapters of Dune Messiah is basically a spoiler of the entire book. Everything is clear, it’s playing chess when you know the outcome. The book’s strength lies in playing with prescient knowledge. If you know what’s going to happen, can you still enjoy? Can you still choose? Can you still be yourself?

And thus the fascination starts anew. Paul’s trust in his abilities becomes absolute, his enemies turn him against himself, yet, the one escape left is just as terrifying. Dune Messiah feels like the epilogue that the original lacked, the indulgence of power that we expect, kept in check by terrible purpose.

It’s especially nice to read this in contrast to other ‘messiahs’ like, say, Neo in The Matrix trilogy. There the indulgence in power just upped the dials to twelve, while here we get a peek behind the curtain and the use of power is kept in check by Paul’s own humanity. My only annoyance is that this is a very short tale and its finale feels more like the end of a beat than of a book.

As mentioned earlier: it is more of an epilogue. That said, this comes recommended.

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Goodreads review • The Paleblood Hunt

The Paleblood HuntThe Paleblood Hunt by Redgrave
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A methodical and engaging opinion piece about the lore of the video game Bloodborne.

It’s no longer a secret that what initialled proposed to be a game about Victorian horrors being hunted down, turned into an incredible addition to the Lovecraft mythos halfway. Lovecraft being Lovecraft, this meant the game’s mechanics, concepts and characters all took on an additional meaning without it necessarily being clear what that meaning was.

As in Demon’s Souls and Dark Souls, Bloodborne tells its tale through bits and pieces carelessly thrown out into the world. Redgrave takes the notes, letters, item descriptions and utterances and moulds them into something a bit more cohesive. I wouldn’t say definite; it clearly leaves room for interpretation. But Redgrave’s own interpretation is actually quite beautiful, both in assembling it and its conclusion. Occasionally there are larger leaps of faith, yet they feel acceptable.

Unless From Software itself ever takes the lid off, we might never know exactly what Bloodborne is about. Which is fine as it becomes a game inspired by Lovecraft. But for all those seeking more closure, The Paleblood Hunt comes recommended.

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Goodreads review • Good Omens

Good OmensGood Omens by Terry Pratchett
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Is it wrong to be utterly delighted when Death turns out to be good ol’ Death? Not the religious one, but the “I TALK LIKE DISCWORLD’S DEATH” one? Good Omens also turns out to be “what if” scenario of Discworld logic being applied to real life. Yes, we’ve had a few instances of those (or depending on world view, an entire Unseen University experiment gone wrong), but this has some choice ideas sprinkled in that make “real life” more similar to “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” and distinctly British as a result.

It’s thoroughly enjoyable and oddly restrained. With some of the characters being able to manipulate just about everything, there needs to be something to hold it back from transforming into a Michael Bay film. You could also say the ending is anti-climactic, which – quite honestly – suits it to a T. Still, it manages to feel a bit cheap as the build-up and rhythm beforehand suggest that other Bay-course.

A great read, but I now feel like I want a host of sequels all focusing on the four horse…-people. After all, they do seem to be back in business these days.

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