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The Female Perspective: What I’m Reading, the “American Gods” Edition

Welcome! This is a weekly blog* by Author J.L. Metcalf where I discuss anything and everything that strikes my fancy. If you have ideas on what you think I should write about, please send me an email via my website!

For now, sit back, relax and enjoy the blog!

*All views expressed in “The Female Perspective” are those of J.L. Metcalf, not Great Stories, Inc


“All your questions can be answered, if that is what you want. But once you learn your answers, you can never unlearn them.”
~Neil GaimanAmerican Gods

By Neil Gaiman
By Neil Gaiman

I am just about finished with my 2nd read of Neil Gaiman’s American Gods, his take on the old Gods, the new Gods and what a man caught in the middle does when he learns their secrets. I read this book a couple years ago and I’ll admit, I wasn’t a huge fan. I had heard so many good things about it, but I wasn’t ravenously inspired by the story nor did I quite understand why it was such a popular novel. I decided to give it a 2nd read because I am excited about the upcoming show and I thought, “Let me give this bad boy another chance to impress me.”

The 2nd read has done it folks. I am loving this book now. I totally get it. This book is fantastic. Maybe not in my top 5 favorite books, but definitely in my top 10 without question.

I admit also that I’m not a huge Neil Gaiman fan. I thought the Stardust movie was better than the book and while I enjoyed what I’ve read of the Sandman series, I’m not so overcome with love for Gaiman that I have to devour every book he puts out. I think I’ll be giving his catalog of books a 2nd chance though because I like how he writes. He’s like Stephen King, but with a strange, twisted in a non-horrific way that I totally dig.

**SPOILERS AHEAD!**

If you have not read the book, stop here if you don’t want to know anything about it.

Take the main character in American Gods, Shadow, first off, great name. Secondly, you kind of fall in love with him immediately. He’s down on his luck, in prison for a crime and sure, he’s a criminal, but you immediately sense that there is more to this guy than just doing something wrong and going to jail for it. Besides, he just got out of prison early because his wife is dead. He seems lost, out of sorts, unsure of what to do in the free world.

Then he meets a mysterious man and things get seriously weird.

“People believe, thought Shadow. It’s what people do. They believe, and then they do not take responsibility for their beliefs; they conjure things, and do not trust the conjuration. People populate the darkness; with ghosts, with gods, with electrons, with tales. People imagine, and people believe; and it is that rock solid belief, that makes things happen.”  ~Neil Gaiman, American Gods

We start to suss out the story, there are Gods on Earth. Old Gods and the New, more annoying, Gods. We have Gods of the media, of electronics, of our pop culture that reflect back at us our own failings, our own systemic-self indulgence. We (as the reader) look at the new Gods and we scoff at them, thinking, I don’t believe in a God of TV. But the fact is, we do– In our own way– worship the boob tube and we will continue to do so until our dying day. We think, the old Gods are so much cooler than the new Gods. But then the story is over and we realize that the old Gods are just as messed up and flawed as the new ones and they are lead by liars and cheats.

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“American Gods”, art by Chris Buzelli

American Gods is a story about worship, about the culture we live in, about lies and truth. Belief and disbelief. Shadow is trying to make sense of this world he’s stumbled into and it continually zigs and zags away from him, become more confused and convoluted with each God we meet. And we meet some good ones, Odin, Loki, Horus, Gods from Hindu mythology and Gods I have no idea where they came from. In the midst of it all, a storm is coming, a war is imminent and we think we know which side is the “right” side, but by the end that’s all flipped and maybe we realize there is no right or wrong side. There’s just the side that wants blood and the side that doesn’t.

“There’s never been a true war that wasn’t fought between two sets of people who were certain they were in the right. The really dangerous people believe they are doing whatever they are doing solely and only because it is without question the right thing to do. And that is what makes them dangerous.”
~Neil Gaiman, American Gods

American Gods is a great tale to read today, with our insane politics and just in general in the midst of a world obsessed with selfies and Instagram and Snapchat. We’ve created new Gods even in the time since Gaiman wrote this. Gods of Facebook, Gods of Twitter. It’s amazing how the tides of worship flit from one to another, creating a God and then abandoning it to flounder and starve when it is ignored, unloved. It’s a fascinating idea, to think that belief in a thing can make it into something “real”, something with ideas and feelings, and it’s even more fascinating to think that once the tide of belief has turned to something else, that God that’s been created is left in a world that no longer cares as it desperately attempts to become relevant again.

American Gods is a mix of fantasy and mythology. It’s also a love story, a story about a man trying to find his way in a world that’s forgotten him and a story about belief. It’s so much more than I thought it was when I first read it and if you’ve read it and didn’t love it, I suggest you give it a 2nd read because you might just see more than you thought was there. You might begin to believe.

“Gods die. And when they truly die they are unmourned and unremembered. Ideas are more difficult to kill than people, but they can be killed, in the end.”  ~Neil Gaiman, American Gods

Super excited for the upcoming STARZ TV version of "American Gods'!
Super excited for the upcoming STARZ TV version of “American Gods’!

What are YOU reading? Have you read American Gods yet? Are you planning on watching the TV show? Why or why not? Sound off in the comments!

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The Female Perspective: My Fave Comic Con Trailers!

Welcome! This is a weekly blog* by Author J.L. Metcalf where I discuss anything and everything that strikes my fancy. If you have ideas on what you think I should write about, please send me an email via my website!

For now, sit back, relax and enjoy the blog!

*All views expressed in “The Female Perspective” are those of J.L. Metcalf, not Great Stories, Inc


Like many, I was not at San Diego Comic Con last week, but like many, I got to enjoy the trailers and videos that came out of it with nerdy abandon. Today I thought I’d go over some of my favorites in case you haven’t seen them and to find out what other people enjoyed.

American Gods

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I read the Neil Gaiman book a year or so ago and while I enjoyed it, I wasn’t overly ecstatic about it. That being said, I was curious when I heard that Starz was developing a TV show based on the book. It’s a fascinating premise so I thought, well holy heck, this might be a cool TV show!

If you haven’t read the book, here’s a short synopsis:

The central premise of the novel is that gods and mythological creatures exist because people believe in them (a form of thoughtform). Immigrants to the United States brought with them spirits and gods. The power of these mythological beings has diminished as people’s beliefs wane. New gods have arisen, reflecting America’s obsessions with media, celebrity, technology, and drugs, among other things. ~Wikipedia

The trailer released at SDCC did NOT disappoint. Besides this being an amazing cast, I think it having a home on Starz is the perfect place for it. Not to mention, the guy playing Shadow, who I adored on The 100, is perfect casting for the quiet felon who is thrust back into the world after this best friend and his wife are both killed in a car accident.

Watch the trailer HERE.

Justice League

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Okay, this look pretty cool. I was a bit hesitant on the new Flash since I love the TV kid so much, but there appears there is some humor to break up the darkness. More than anything, I cannot possibly get enough of seeing a posse of superhero’s all together, there is something so amazing about it that I honestly will watch anything just to get my fix of that. Maybe it’s wish-fulfillment, where are our superhero’s?

Check out the trailer HERE.

Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them

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I love me some Harry Potter magic, and really, magic in general. Not to mention the vast void of emptiness left in my life since the final book and movie were released so you can imagine my joy about seeing this trailer. The first trailer left me feeling a bit cold, but this one looks awesome. Plus, that familiar Harry Potter music brings back all the feels.

Check out the trailer HERE.

Doctor Strange

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Holy smokes, I can’t even … This look so flipping amazing I can’t even! Here, watch the trailer and tell me this doesn’t fill you with all the feels when it comes to the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Check out the trailer HERE.

Now, I know virtually nothing about Dr. Strange, but I can tell you two things with certainty.

  1. Benedict Cumberbatch can do no wrong. I don’t care. He’s awesome.
  2. Magic and mind-twisting magic. Dude. MAGIC.

This is one of those trailers that gets you all goose-pimply and excited for the movie to come, but as excited as I am to see Doctor Strange I am even more excited for the next on my list of SDCC wonders. Can you guess what it is? Or who?

WONDER WOMAN

Wonder_Woman_(2017_film)

I am one of the people who thought that Superman V. Batman: Dawn of Justice was a good movie. Not great, not perfect, but really good. Having just watched the “Ultimate Edition” I realize that it’s even better than I remembered it and one of my favorite parts is the introduction of Diana Prince, aka Wonder Woman. Seeing Wonder Woman on the big screen like this, tall, proud and powerful, makes me feel all weepy. Add to that being able to finally see the trailer for her movie and I was a total mess.

For years, those in power in the movie world said that a woman-centered stand-alone film wouldn’t do good in the theater so they avoided it like the plague. Now, to see it actually happening is almost overwhelming. Will Wonder Woman outdo her male counterparts? Hard to say, but from the looks of the trailer, it looks like she is going to kick some serious butt and do it in wonderfully awesome fashion.

Also, the line, “What I do is not up to you.” BOOM! That’s my Wonder Woman!

Wonder woman was obviously my favorite of the trailers, I can’t lie. Not to mention, the poster is phenomenal, “Power. Grace. Wisdom. Wonder.” AAAAAAHHHHH!! They are doing so right by this I cannot imagine it will go wrong (my fingers and toes are crossed anyway).

A few honorable mentions in terms of fun videos that came our way are below. These aren’t high profile movie trailers, but they are a bit of fun.

Honorable Mentions:

Rick Grimes tries to Glitter Bomb Daryl and becomes the dread pirate Glitter Beard!

Superman goes undercover!

There you have it folks, some of my fave videos from SDCC 2016. Did you have different ones? Show them to me in the comments and let me know what YOU think of the upcoming slew of movies and TV coming our way!

 

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The Female Perspective: Summer Reading Is Where It’s At!

Welcome! This is a weekly blog* by Author J.L. Metcalf where I discuss anything and everything that strikes my fancy. If you have ideas on what you think I should write about, please send me an email via my website!

For now, sit back, relax and enjoy the blog!

*All views expressed in “The Female Perspective” are those of J.L. Metcalf, not Great Stories, Inc


Summer is a great time to dig into some new books, it’s (hopefully) got a slower pace and there are more days spent by the pool, at the beach or just chilling in your backyard while the family plays and barbecues. To that end, I thought I’d give a shout out to some of my personal favorite summer reads.

How do I pick summer reads? Well, I pick them like any other book I want to read, does it sound interesting? Does it have a cool cover (I know, I know, don’t judge them that way but a lot of times a cover is what calls me to a book, the synopsis is what keeps me reading)? I don’t think that summer reads have to necessarily be shorter, less intense (as many summer reading lists would suggest), I think summer is a great time to dig into an intense series or a nice, long book so that you have plenty to read at the beach. There’s not much that’s worse than finishing your book with a long day ahead and having no backup!

That being said, here are my Top 5 Summer Reads!

1. The Stand by Stephen King

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Nothing says summertime fun like the end of the world, am I right??? I’ve talked about The Stand a few times because it is hands down one of my top 5, all time favorite books to read and I find myself gravitating to it almost every summer. Maybe because the story starts in the summer? The story itself (if you don’t know) is an engaging one, told in typical Stephen King fashion, that brings us hero, villains and the fight over the soul of the world. It’s a tale that is simply about good and evil, but at over 1,000 pages, it’s much more than that. To me it is King’s finest works and it is worth a read.

2. A Song Of Ice and Fire (aka Game Of Thrones) by George R. R. Martin

Bookset

The first time I read this epic series it was during the summer I was laid off from work so I had a lot of time on my hands. It was recommended by a good friend and since I am a huge fan of anything similar to Lord of the Rings I thought it had to be a win-win. I have to say that I was instantly hooked, while also being completely devastated when characters I had fallen in love with were brutally slain. The end of the first book made me realize that Martin isn’t fooling around, your favorite characters will die and no one, literally no one is safe (Red Wedding anyone?), which is why I love these books. I am finally getting around to watching the HBO show and am feeling the urge to re-read these beauties to invest once again in the rich, Tolkien-esque world that Martin has created, while also refreshing myself for when he eventually releases the next volume, The Winds of Winter.

3. Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling

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No list of mine would be complete without some Harry Potter and honestly, it took me a very long time to get into this series. I was finishing up the 6th book when the final book came out so I never had to wait between books like so many others. I cannot say enough good things about these books, it is about friendship, magic, doing what’s right even when it feels wrong and so much more. I cry all the time when some of my favorite characters die because I feel like they are truly alive. The power of Rowling’s work is in her words, she is a master of her craft and one day I hope to be half as good as she is. If you haven’t read Harry Potter yet, get on that, and summer is a perfect time to start enjoying the adventures of Harry Potter, Ron and Hermoine!

4. American Gods by Neil Gaiman

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Another one that it took me way too long to read. I admit to not being a huge Gaiman fan (I actually liked the movie version of Stardust better than the book), but this one was a great read. For being as long as it is, it’s a lot of fun. I never really knew where the book was going to go, but I knew I wanted to be along for the ride. The characters are engaging, interesting and some of them are downright annoying, but that’s what makes the book so much fun! That and an upcoming TV adaptation makes this a must-read in my eyes.

5. The Martian by Andy Weir

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This book is AMAZING. Seriously. Check it out. It’s not super-spacey at all (even though the guy is on Mars), it’s this amazing story of survival and science. When I first started reading this it’s because I saw the movie trailer and was instantly intrigued. When I realized it was from the point of view of the guy trapped on Mars alone I was instantly curious, how do we keep a book going that’s one person, alone, on Mars? Well Weir did a fantastic job of that. He crafted a character that is funny, smart and oh yeah, super funny. The quips and jabs that Mark Watney make had me laughing out loud as I read along. But never forget, this guy is trapped on Mars and just as you settle in to enjoy his diatribe about disco music, something explodes and you are reminded just how dangerous his existence is. It’s a great read, perfect for a day at the beach and it will keep you on the edge of your seat. The movie adaptation is also pretty darn good, Matt Damon is a perfect Watney.

There you have it folks! Some of my favorite summer reads, how about you? What are some of your go-to summer reads? Tell me in the comments! I’m always looking for new books!