Camino Island: A Quick Review

Camino Island by John Grisham is a book about a group of thieves who steal the 5 original F. Scott Fitzgerald manuscripts. It has a grand heist, intrigue, and a eclectic cast of literary characters which allured me as someone who loves the aesthetic ideal of writer communities.

It also has a pretty awful romance and a conclusion that led me to believe that Grisham had a very different idea of where his book was going than what his readers were led to believe. I kept waiting for something to happen, scanning the page number over and over again and asking myself, “How does this man intend to wrap up all of these plot lines in just 40 pages?” The answer is: Badly

A reviewer by the name of Tom Tabasco on Goodreads posted this about Camino Island:

“The truth is, the book goes from very fast and very gripping to very slow and very girly far too quickly. It’s like reading two different books intertwined, and I couldn’t care less about the second one.”

Tabasco highlights the two intersecting plots in the book: The heist and the intrigue of where the manuscripts are and what the thieves are doing AND the insurance companies attempts to reclaim the manuscripts, told through the eyes of Mercer Mann.

Both plots had great promise. The first chapter kicks off with a literal bang and had me gripped from the beginning. Then the book gets into the history of Bruce Cable, a bookstore owner on Camino Island and the primary suspect who has drawn the gaze of the insurance company. The rest of the novel takes place on the island, which is populated by a number of diverse writers.

Unlike Tabasco, I didn’t mind the slowdown. I rather liked getting to know Mercer, although there were times where I think she came across as a little…unbelievable. I wish that Grisham had done more with the character, or at least condensed the plot so that she herself mattered less. Instead, I was invested in Mercer and left high and dry as to her ultimate role in the novel.

Overall, I really liked the idea of the novel. This is the first Grisham novel that I have read in years and I forgot how much I liked his to-the-point writing style. It kept me engaged, made me laugh, and ultimately my dissatisfaction with the novel derived from the fact that I think the ending did not do the buildup justice.

However, you can decide that for yourself.

3.5/5 -A fun read




Howl’s Moving Castle Is A Masterpiece

Many fans of the Studio Ghibli movie Howl’s Moving Castle don’t know that the movie is an adaptation of a book by the same title. The novel was written by Diana Wynne Jones, a fantastic children’s author who wrote a number of great fantasies. While there are a number of differences between the two (and I like both), the book expands the world in ways that I think fans of the movie would love.

The driving motivation in the novel is detailed in the very first paragraph. The book starts with, “In the land of Ingary, where such things as seven-league boots and cloaks of invisibility exist, it is quite a misfortune to be born the eldest of three.”

It the character of Sophie (and by a lesser extent, Howl) that elevates the book so high above other contemporary YA fiction. Sophie is the eldest of three. She believes that because she is the eldest, she has no chance to seek her fortune in any regard. The hat shop will be passed down to her and she will work their until she passes it on. However, due to a fair bit of magic, her fate takes a drastic turn.

Spoilers incoming.

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Barbarian Backgrounds in D&D

Barbarians are one of the most basic classes to play in D&D. You fly into a berserker rage, swing your weapon at things, and then you don’t stop swinging until the thing is dead. They are defined by their mindless frenzy and their rejection of civilization. This might lead you to believe that there are very few options for roleplay when it comes to barbarians, but this is not true. However, like the warlock, most of these roleplaying decisions are based upon careful preplanning and a good idea of your character’s background.

In the 5e Players Handbook it says that to barbarians, “civilization is no virtue, but a sign of weakness.” Barbarians are heavily linked to the wilderness, so one of the first decisions that has to be made is where your character grew up. Where they part of a wandering tribe in the woods, tundra, or desert? Where they part of a people who rejected conventional civilization due to extreme environments, like the vikings? Or perhaps they were more like a druid, growing up a hermit in the woods trying to control their emotions as a being who is deeply connected to the earth around them. Maybe a farmhand who is known through the village for their feats of strength.

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Juuni Taisen is Pure Fun

So this season of anime has been a bit slow for me. I’ve been enjoying the third season of Shokugeki no Soma and the ride that is The Ancient Magus’ Bride, but while both of those shows can get my incredibly amped up, neither made me as itchy for the next episode as Juuni Taisen did.

Zodiac War is batslap crazy, with a cast of interesting characters that I have learned not to get invested in. It’s an all-out, every man for himself brawl that encompasses an entire city. There’s plotting, intrigue, action, alliances, and a Game of Thrones level of set-up and controlled letdown.

This set-up is what makes me anticipate this show each week. There can be an entire episode focused on one character’s super secret weapon that can take out an entire city block and then they die without ever getting to use it. But now it’s a matter of Chekhov’s Gun. They mentioned it for a reason, right? RIGHT?

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Warlock backgrounds in D&D

They were a normal family by all accounts. A farmer and a tailor. The day their child was born was just like any other. But when the mother held her crying infant in her arms, her eyes widened and her heart dropped. She could not speak and neither could her husband.

The baby bore a brand. A star emblazoned on their back with alien runes dividing the points. It was marked, claimed by a being so ancient and incomprehensible that even the gods could not help the poor child. Their fate was decided.

Before anybody could say a word, a shaman in a dark cloak entered the infirmary. Talking the baby in their gloved hands, he nodded at the parents before taking of into the star-ridden night.

Warlock’s, as defined by the Players Handbook, are defined by the pact they make with an otherworldly being. Whether demonic, fey, or something more…unearthly, Warlocks gain their powers from their patrons. This gives their DM a lot to work with.

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Soliloquy of a Type B Student: Part 1

I modified this image for non-commercial use.

I am a Type B individual living in a heavily Type A environment. The University of Missouri’s School of Journalism is a competitive, high-stress, and achievement oriented organization. Your value as a student is directly tied into the amount of internships you get, projects you finish, and your ability to go above and beyond the call of duty. You learn on the job. The environment is brisk and impersonal. It’s exactly what you would expect from a journalism school that frequently ranks among the best in the country.

Type A personalities are defined by their competitiveness and time urgency, according to They are driven by stress to finish projects and to work toward goals. They are at best, assertive, and at worst, aggressive. Type A personalities tend to be easily aggravated.

Type B personalities tend to be relaxed and non-competitive. While this is generally seen as being better for the overall heart health of the individual it is not as useful in the fast-paced, unpredictable world of journalism.

I honestly don’t know what personality type is better in the long run.

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The Write State of Mind

I have a problem with starting work. It begins when I turn on my computer and it ends after 5 hours of playing Stardew Valley, watching YouTube videos, and cycling through Reddit posts. No matter what, I can’t bring myself to put my fingers to the keyboard and actually just write.

It’s not from a lack of awareness. I know that when I am wasting time, I am making myself more anxious. I know that procrastination leads to worse sleep leading to worse days. I know that there is no such thing as “just writing when inspired” and I know I should set a schedule and I know I should enforce harsher consequences.

It is only through a draining guilt that I finally bring my fingers to the keys and let them fly. I enjoy this moment briefly before questioning why I did not start early. The cycle continues. So it goes.

I’ve gone so far as to add Microsoft Word to my startup, so every time I turn on my PC a blank document is staring at my invitingly. I’ve tried to associate writing with drinking coffee, or turning my desk a certain way, or by envisioning the rewards that my hard work will reap.

Today, however, I felt a change.

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