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I'm going to hide the spoiler stuff behind the cut but before that let me explain my reading process. I tend to be a chewer of books. What I mean is that the first time I read a book I tend to read it over a time period of a week or longer. It took me about a week and a half to read through Flex by theferrett the first time. The second time I waited until I had a five hour window to gobble it up in one sitting (reading a book when you know what happens takes less time).

What makes a book re-readable? A book becomes re-readable when the reader can identify with the characters and understand the characters' struggles. A strong plot and good pacing goes a long way as well. Good dialogue adds to the enjoyment of another readthrough ("Oh yeah, that line was totally funny"). The Ferrett successfully places all of these elements into Flex.

*SPOILER ALERT* *SPOILER ALERT* *SPOILER ALERT* *SPOILER ALERT*

Please don"t click this until you"ve read FlexCollapse )

I'm looking forward to The Flux.

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Filed under urban fantasy, Flex is theferrett's debut novel. I endearingly call him Ferrett-sensei so I went ahead and bought the book from Amazon. I left a five star review, and it's not because I may be slightly biased. I described it having the classic three-act structure: exposition, complication, and resolution. It's chock full of modern references, though ones I particularly understood since they involved video games I have played. There are some longer spoilerish thoughts running around in my head but I want to re-read the book before writing them up.

The first thing I was taught in my literary analysis class was to analyze the title itself. So what's in a name? My first impression of the title was in "flexing your muscle" or bending something. Dictionary.com reminded me that flex is also used to name the inflection point of a curve, i.e. the point at which a graph changes from concave up to convex or vice versa. Flex is important in math because it's when we see a big change, just like we will see a big change in the world of Flex.

Paul Tsabo is the name of our protagonist. So I thought of the Apostle Paul, who was the man formerly known as Saul the ardent persecutor of Christians. Saul then saw the light on the road to Damascus and changed his name to Paul and the Bible tells us that he went on to found several churches. Paul flipped from being a persecutor of Christians to a teacher of Christianity itself. Flex's Paul is a man tasked with tracking down 'mancers, the magic users of the Flex world. That he would turn out to be a 'mancer himself is part of the exposition phase of the novel.

The prologue follows the main enemy 'mancer Anathema. We know that "anathema" is something or someone to be extremely hated, and she is indeed full of hatred. She entices a vulnerable young man to use Flex, which we learn is the drug of choice in the world. It's distilled magic that gives regular humans the ability to use magic. It happens to be powerful and addictive as hell. We get to see the hapless victim take Flex out for a spin, only to die in the Flux, which is the counteraction to using Flex. There's that old saying that for every action, there's a separate but equal reaction.

So what inspires Paul Tsabo? Order, and that means bureaucromancy is his magic. Magic in the Flex world is born from obsession, and he obsesses over paperwork as an insurance investigator and former cop.

Paul cares deeply about his daughter Aliyah. I loved the messy characterization between Paul and Aliyah throughout the novel. The little moments between him and his daughter tie the novel together and represent the ups and downs of close relationships.

I'd say more about the complication and resolution phases, but we're headed into spoiler territory there. So let me say that I think one of the hardest things to do is to write scenarios where your protagonist gets into trouble. I mean, when I played role playing games I always wanted my characters to be invincible or see everything coming. But such overwhelming power doesn't make for a suspenseful novel. So there's a balance between raising the stakes for your main character and not getting him killed off, and I think that part was written well.

Flex is a great read and I highly recommend it if you haven't nabbed a copy for yourself yet.

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Tuesday Talking Points

Planeswalker Points
Magic is switching from an ELO type system to one that rewards playing. The new system rewards playing, which is smart on both rewards both business and fun interests. It also appeals to the level up system of RPG's. I guess newer players, though, will never know the joy of breaking the 1800 barrier.

Fantasy Football
I drafted an All SEC team, with Eli Manning as my QB and Arian Foster, Peyton Hillis, and Felix Jones as my RB's. The weakness are my WR's, where I'll be choosing from the lot of Percy Harvin, Sidney Rice, Hines Ward, AJ Green, or Early Doucet each week. Jason Witten at TE was pretty much my only viable choice at the position. As it turns out, Ryan Succop of the Chiefs kicked collegiately at South Carolina.

Cramps


Autumn
After a record breaking heat wave this summer, my Facebook feed exploded with compliments for the great weather on Labor Day. Apparently, many of my Tulsa peeps went to the zoo. Taking the kids to the park, walking around the neighborhood, and mowing the lawn were popular activities as well. The weather is indeed a polite subject of conversation.

Labor Day
I spent Sunday with my college and career Bible study group from church. We spent Sunday night at a house out in the boonies. Good night of Mexican food, fishing, pool, foosball, and watching people die playing the New Super Mario Bros for the Wii.

Tuesday Talking Points

  • I decided to sub for two of the private schools in town this year instead of the public school system. I did the sub training workshop for one yesterday, but the other I have to wait till September 18th because I need to take a "virtues" class at a local Catholic church (it's a private junior high associated with a nearby covenant). I look forward to seeing how a private school system operates.


  • I'm shifting my day off from Monday to Sunday. So my schedule for the school year will be something like subbing Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. I'll work at Sears on Tuesdays, opening and working till about 3pm most weeks. I'll be delivering pizzas for Papa John's Thursday through Saturday, closing either Friday or Saturday (so yeah, Thursdays or Fridays could be very long days for me).


  • I got to split Top 4 with Tempered Steel, going 4-1. I stomped my roommate with some ridiculous draws, with one of them involving emptying my hand on the third turn with a Tempered Steel. I lost to Valakut Game 1, keeping a saucy one lander but failing to draw the second land. Then in Game 2 he found Pyroclasm and Creeping Corrosion, absolutely crippling me. My most interesting match of the day was in the final round against the Illusions deck. Maindeck Hex Parasite saved me (why yes, I can target your Phantasmal Dragon for zero).


  • My roomie bought a PS3, so I finally got around to borrowing Batman: Arkham Asylum from a friend. They went with one of the darker storylines for this one, including Oracle being paralyzed. I also loved the fact that they used the voices from Batman: The Animated Series (which makes sense since Paul Dini wrote Arkham Asylum). Kevin Conroy as Batman, Mark Hamill as Joker, and Arleen Sorkin as Harlequin are awesome to hear reprise their respective roles.


  • With Sundays off, I'm gonna take the plunge and try out for the church choir. It's more of a contemporary style choir (no choir robes, casual clothing). I think I have a decent voice, though undeveloped. It also means I'll be able attend community group on Sunday nights. I've been feeling like I needed to change up my schedule, so this is the perfect time.

Tuesday Talking Points

  • So, I just turned past 27 this past Friday. I did my usual tradition of bowling and hanging out. What I realized is that there's a different crew each year. People come and go in the span of a year, for both good and bad reasons. C'est la vie.

  • Innistrad is going to be awesome, especially with Richard Garfield as part of the design team. I was particularly fond of drafting Odyssey block, the last graveyard themed block.

  • One of our driver's at Papa Johns was robbed last week. Kinda sad and scary at the same time.

  • My roomie just bought a PS3. Yay for Blu Ray!

  • My Pittsburgh Pirates are in first place in the NL Central! It likely won't last, but at long last, there is hope.

Tuesday Talking Points

  • Ordinarily, the perpetrator of a crime is a the person who benefits most from that crime. But just because you benefit the most doesn't mean you're guilty. That's the beauty of the American legal system.

  • I often think we do our children a disservice by skipping over military history. Yes, we study the American Revolution, the Civil War, and the World Wars, but the actual battles are often skipped over in lieu of teaching about the results. Freedom is not free, it must be bought at a bloody price.

  • We must be ever vigilant to keep our freedoms. There's a line in Lee Greenwood's "God Bless the USA" (yep, I heard that particular song way too much on the radio when I was delivering pizzas) that says
    I'd thank my lucky stars,
    to be livin here today.
    ‘Cause the flag still stands for freedom,
    and they can't take that away.

    Except when I heard those lyrics I immediately thought about how untrue it was. Everyday we find our freedoms placed in peril, from our home to airports across the nation.

  • We have free speech, but that doesn't mean we are free from the consequences of our words.

  • God Bless America.

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Taken from sacramentalist, who ganked it from aiela.

Post a comment, and I will reply with a reason why I think you're great. In return, you have to post this same meme on your blog and comment for other people.

Tuesday Talking Points

  • I've been thinking about making a Standard Highlander Myr theme deck. Mostly to have fun with Myr Reservoir...

  • Tornado Alley is living up to its namesake this year. Hopefully another hospital won't be hit in the near future.

  • The OKC Thunder threw a game away against the Mavs. Sometimes, you gotta grow up the hard way.

  • Crazy busy Sunday night delivering pizzas with two of the other drivers calling in sick. Oof.

  • For the first time in my life, I've gotten the inkling that I should start teaching at a private school. It doesn't have to do with my teaching ability but rather my personality and faith. That's strange because I always thought I'd end up in a public school, and I still may, but I feel a strong direction towards teaching at a private school. We'll see, I've got a long way to go...

Tuesday Talking Points

  • Got third in the Launch Party draft on Saturday. My deck was a fairly average green infect deck until Scars. I opened up Wurmcoil Engine and got passed two of the 5/4 green intimdate guys that give other green creatures intimidate. Combined with Triumph of the Hordes I managed to squeak out enough wins to make it to Top 4.

  • The Heat need to sit Bibby and start Chalmers on Rose. The Bulls-Heat will largely be defined by matchups, and the Heat can ill afford to let the MVP of the league blow by an aging point guard too many times at the beginning of the game.

  • I subbed for an alternative school yesterday. Quite the enlightening experience, I must say.

  • My South Dakota mission trip in July is in danger of not happening due to the lack of people signing up. Sadness.

  • Woot, it's Tuesday. I finally get to do sushi lunch with my usual group after missing the last four weeks due to conflicts on one side or the other. Nom nom nom! ^_^