A Writer’s Thoughts: Wonderful, Wonderful

While on my three month hiatus in the US of A, my favorite band of all time today have released their new album; Wonderful, Wonderful. Today was also the day that tickets for The Killers went on sale for their concerts back home in New Zealand. Thanks to awesome people on the Reddit forum I got the pre-sale code and was able to buy tickets to all of the concerts, but of course.

I’ve been listening to the album through and through today and wanted to share some opinions. And my opinions will actually include a broader topic than just this wonderful new album from The Killers (I tried to be a comedian there, sorry). In the iTunes editor write up for the album, I noticed a comment about Brandon’s wife dealing with depression. As I listened to “Rut” which was said to be Brandon’s song that addressed the fore mentioned depression, and then listened to songs like “Some Kind Of Love” I really started to put together a theme for this record. A song like “The Man” pokes fun at fame and fortune and shows the shallowness of it, while “Run For Cover” for me shared thoughts about the world and it’s flakey state that it’s in. Heck, that song even made comments on politics and almost to me sounded like there were a couple of stabs at U.S president Donald Trump (“big smile, fake news, run for cover you’ve got nothing left to loose”). I’m probably far off with that one, but the theme I’m more pointing at is that of mental health.

In some alternative way, my favorite band and my favorite author (John Green’s New novel; Turtles All The Way Down) are creating content that is highly influenced by what is becoming a bigger and bigger issue. Heck, it’s recently been brought into the spotlight thanks to the horrific representation by the 13 Reasons Why Netflix series. And even more with other novels like All The Bright Places by Jennifer Niven which is on its way to becoming a film. I’ve researched, looked at statistics and read multitudes or articles on this topic. And my thoughts are going to shadow a lot that already exist out there. Is mental health becoming a larger issue, or are we just talking about it more?

– Michael Topschij.

A Writer’s Review: A Step Towards Falling

A young guy and a young girl attend a high school football game. They both witness a classmate with disabilities getting sexually abused under the bleachers. They see each other and assume the other will get help. Neither of them do. They’re punished by having to work volunteer time / community service at a local school / community group for those with disabilities.

So what did I think? This is rather a difficult review for me to write, because it could very easily start to borderline on my thoughts being offensive. See, with books, I fall in love with them when they start to drag me into the story. When I become so involved with the book that I get a connection with the characters. For example, my current favourite novel of all time; Thirteen Reasons Why created such a connection that I had a desire to save a fictional character. That did not happen with A Step Towards Falling. Unfortunately I have to use words like boring and uninteresting. It was a novel that I struggled to keep turning pages with and to a degree, wanted to be over. So why was that my impression? For various reasons, one of them was the mix of characters.

Two’s a party, three’s a crowd.

Jennifer Niven had done a fantastic job with the writing of All The Bright Places. But she had a perspective from two characters. This novel had three, the lead male, the lead female and the girl whom suffered from a mental disability. Which meant the writing style for character three had to be done in a way that seemed less cohesive (probably the wrong word, I’m trying to say, basic) than the other main characters. I didn’t enjoy the switching round so much and felt it hard to bring myself into the story. There wasn’t enough going on either to keep me interested. It was slow paced and again, dull.

– Michael Topschij.

A Writer’s Big Day: WWDC 2017

I think it’s fair for me to say that I am more than ready for bed. It’s been a long day. Waking up at 5 in the morning to then stand in line for hours for a very fully packed morning at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference 2017. This is the second year in a row for me to be attending and as always the lining up was a little brutal.

The keynote address was full of wonderful nerdy goodness. I work as a developer making apps/games for iPhone. We got to see some awesome changes and also some awesome (again) new stuff. A new iPad, a freaking wow space grey iMac that is one heck of a machine. Then finally a speaker that has Siri built in. Something heavily rumoured, but released to much excitement for all us fanboys sitting in the audience.

Coming up in the week there’s some more interesting and exciting events including a special talk with Michelle Obama. I’ll be attending that one, for sure.

– Michael Topschij.

A Writer’s Review: Holding Up The Universe

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It was a sunny Thursday morning. I was lining up, wait, no, I just walked in. October 4th was the set release date for Jennifer Niven’s latest masterpiece; Holding Up The Universe. On October 3rd I visited the New Zealand equivalent of Barnes & Noble after reading that they had stock already of the book. I walked in, ready to buy, the shop assistant went out back to get my copy, only to come back and tell me I couldn’t have it until tomorrow. So, I came back, and bought it on release day!

This book was everything I thought it was going to be and more. Jennifer has a writing style that she seem’s to enjoy using. The method of writing through the eyes of two different characters to portray the story. I’d been used to this after loving her first novel; All The Bright Places. The one comment I will make, there were no chapters, and no pages numbers! But as for the story itself, well… This novel brought us into the lives of Jack and Libby. Libby an overweight American girl who’s struggled with being fat for a very long time, so much to the point of obtaining the title “America’s Fattest Teen”. Jack, well, he just seemed to be the cool kid at high school. With one big secret, he cannon’t recognize people. He has a real life syndrome that prevents you from recognizing faces. I found it astounding how this works, the fact you can recognize objects and identify what they are but not people? Yet, it’s a real thing!

We watched as Jack becomes introduced to Libby and explore things like self empowerment for someone like Libby who’s been struggling with the life of being insulted and ridiculed. And for Jack, things like being yourself as we’d seen Jack have to really try and push his way through with varied methods of faking a lot in his life. I really enjoyed this, it was indeed a page turner. I also enjoyed how easy it was to get through and read. Most people find themselves needing to make their way to the end of a chapter before they can put the book down, but pacing through this was quite easy due to Jennifer’s choice in writing style. And being able to make the ‘chapters’ rather short. I look forward to seeing more from Jennifer in the future, this book happily earns it’s way into the Books I Love category.

– Michael Topschij.

A Writer’s Review: An Abundance of Katherines

A novel that is one of the less famed works from John Green, An Abundance of Katherines tells the story of a boy who has only ever dated girls named Katherine. I think the reason this novel confused me, was because it was trying to be an extremely intellectual book. A novel that tried to combine logic and math with a story of teenage romance. It plagued some abstract writing styles that included making various references at the bottom of a page to something as if the story was some kind of a Wikipedia article. In fact the wikipedia article on this novel features a cover that looks like this is a 1980’s high school math textbook.

There were some hard things to grasp with this, such as details on Colin’s ethnicity. Lately these days, culture is extremely trying to be kind towards different genders, race, sexual identity etc… It’s something I’ve started to notice growing up, especially over the last few years. This book seems like it was somewhat of an early start at keying its way into that club, the club of everybody’s equal and everyone should get some stardom. Colin was a jew, I think? His friend was named Hassan and he was Muslim.

The overall story seemed to primarily be about Colin meeting a girl named Lindsey and this being a break in his cycle of dating girls named Katherine. Whilst I was looking forward to diving into another novel from my favorite author, I really struggled to enjoy this book, and unfortunately see why it is one of the less well known/received books from John.

– Michael Topschij.

It was good! And pathetic.

I’ve just completed reading through; ‘Me Earl and the Dying Girl”. It was a good book, that was pathetic. As a dedication to a novel that accepted no boundaries for a novel. And the fact I can’t be bothered really writing this all up, I’ll sum it up in the same style this book used frequently:

INT Michael’s Review.

• The book used some unique styles
• The story made sense
• My second novel I’ve read about cancer
• It highlighted how pathetic high school students are
• The story was slow building until it quickly got into some movement
• I loved how it was a fictional character writing a book
• I’m confused if I appreciate the realness of this story, or not

END SCENE.
… Michael Topschij.