Sunday, July 27, 2014

Predator's Gold (Mortal Engines)

This was a somewhat less awesome version of the first book. It's still enjoyable, but it's got less going on while repeating a very similar plot. The main difference is that this one is less self-contained and ends with things unresolved - it's honestly a decent enough ending for a middle book rather than just abruptly cutting off once the author hit the page count requested, but there's numerous things set up that haven't gone through yet.

The Reconstruction Part 42 - "The Swarm" (Guest Review)

I'm done with sidequests for now, so it's back to Berylbrine to advance the plot. Time for more flavor text!

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Reached (Matched conclusion)

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So our cover designer is back on more familiar ground. Standing and facing away from the camera is no fainting tuberculosis victim on the riverbank, but at least it's relatively passive.
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I actually like this sequence of covers because you can really see exactly the moment they scream and go OH GOD HOW DOES THIS WORK. It was scary for a bit in the middle there, wasn't it? How girl do things? Thank god it's over and we're back to women being passive objects of mystery.

I expect people would argue this is a strong cover, showing she's successfully broken free of the bubble, but that isn't what it looks like to me. It looks kind of like hatching from an egg, with the newborn wandering away from the shell just because that's what you do next. She's turned away, which makes this seem more like she's dazed and a victim than triumphant and accomplished. Someone proud of what they've done should be facing the camera, defiant and proud, looking out for anyone who thinks they can stuff her back in there.

Looking at this I get the sense she doesn't really know what to do, and the strongest interpretation I can get is she's overcome something bad and is now walking away from it into an uncertain future, which has its place but is not exactly triumph, and looks downright bad given she was actively breaking free last book. There is, in sum, no sense she's won here.

And while I suppose you could say that the cover is supposed to be the hook, so she's not supposed to have won yet...there's no sense of winning coming up as a possibility. She's overcome the bubble and is wandering out into the empty void of a world. It feels like a melancholy ending. Those too have their place, but so does drowning, and it doesn't change the fact this does not seem like anything other than business as usual in YA land.

If the first book is her trapped in the bubble and the second her punching a hole in it, a suitable third would have been the bubble exploding outward as she finally stood up. Instead we avoid the moment when she's active and only check back after all the debris is gone, so there's no evidence of how it happened or assertiveness shown. Maybe someone else broke her out instead and then left. Anything but showing she did it herself.

At any rate.

This is not exactly a good book, but the first half of it is actually decent, if kicking Cassia to the side in the process. She's not as passive an object as some of the really terrible YA I've been seeing, but this is not really the story of Cassia changing stuff so much as wandering around and sometimes having an impact on the plot. So...the cover is pretty accurate to the plot. It has that in its favor. It really only looks bad as an ending book, when one starts asking questions like "Why is Cassia good enough to carry the book when it's about romance but when it's a rebellion most of it has to be about how special and vital her boyfriends are?"

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Programming Note, Next Time On

Hello my dears, Act here.

I changed jobs last week (two weeks ago? It's felt longer) and it has not had a positive effect on my ongoing struggle with GAD and MDD. It has been a really, really... batshit couple of weeks.

I have not forgotten you! I just haven't had the ability to really do anything except focus on not flipping out, including things I like to do, like this and also books and video games and walking the dog.

Fortunately things seem to be looking up (anxiety sufferers out there: DO YOGA), and hopefully by the next week I'll be back with a vengeance. Things up coming for you to look forward to:

Higurashi: Curse-Killing Arc (hoooooly shit you guys)
The Last Wish [Witcher 0] (why wasn't the game this???)
Gone Home (been sitting 75%-done in the drafts forever)
QuickRecs (Dragon Age Origins, Fable I and II, Tenant of Wildfell Hall)
QuickPans (Tales of Xilia, Fable III)

And of course, our two ongoing LP/Rs:

Fault in Our Stars, Chapter 19 (hooooooly casual sexism you guys)
Fate/ Stay Night UBW (i miss you, fate, come back to me)

Also it's less than a month til my birthday now so there's that.

Heroes of Might & Magic IV, Part 4 (Guest Review)

You know I was going to talk about the expansion packs but I gave up. This is more of a rant at this point. The game is just terrible.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Heroes of Might & Magic IV, Part 3 (Guest Review)

Last time, I gave my thoughts on the new gameplay elements of Heroes 4. Now that you're familiar with the factions, let's discuss the campaign stories.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Heroes of Might & Magic IV, Part 2 (Guest Review)

So when we last left off, everybody died from their own stupidity, hooray! This leaves the game kind of directionless in terms of plot, however. The campaign selection style is reminiscent of Armageddon's Blade – instead of all the campaigns revolving around a central narrative, they each tell individual, self-contained stories. There are six, each one revolving around one of the six factions. I figure I should talk about them first.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Heroes of Might & Magic IV, Part 1 (Guest Review)

I have heard many mixed opinions on this game. It seems to be very much a "love it or hate it" affair. I said Heroes 3 was a major revamp of the system, but it has nothing on this. Virtually everything has been radically altered in this installment – it has a bit of a "see what sticks" feel to it. Like most people, it seems, I am personally rather divided. I like some of the new additions and changes, but others I feel were poor decisions. Some of the concepts introduced here were refined into a more palatable form in Heroes 5, but more on that later.

Like Heroes 3, it also has some rather complicated and confusing chronology, though at the very least it does not have an unholy sequel/interquel hybrid Might & Magic tie-in game like Heroes 3 did.

Let's delve into this beast.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Dreaming Mary

I really enjoyed Dreaming Mary. It's really well put together, the dialogue and voices are simply incredible, and it has multiple endings that aren't a chore to get and make sense rather than seeming like they're just there because it's custom. Play it with the sound all the way up! You need to hear what's said.

The Reconstruction Part 41 - "For the White" (Guest Review)

Last time, our heroes turned away a desperate man who begged for their help, because it might inconvenience them. Noble.

Saturday, July 19, 2014


We're on a new section now! That means we're.....still nowhere near the end of this.

Remember how considerate the author was of mental health and how he never ever just makes up shit for drama? This chapter is more of that.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

The Transfer (Divergent)

Now that I know just how retcontastic these books are, sticking strictly to publication order seems like the only option. It'll probably still be a mess, but maybe it'll be possible to plot the overall trajectory at least.

And so, we dive into The Transfer, another ebook. This one is at a bit more meaty than most of these things we've seen.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Animorphs 2: The Visitor Part 1

~*~Passive-aggressive friendly reminder that I never actually finished this series so don't talk about the ending!~*~

This is the first book of the series I ever read! I wonder if I'd have picked it up with uncanny valley catperson staring out at me. Also, I assume the otherwise inexplicable red background is to make up for the lack of blood in this one.

In retrospect, the title is pretty terrible. What visitor? I guess she is, but it really has nothing to do with the real point. "The Friend" would be more relevant to the central conflict she faces.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Edge of Tomorrow

This lived up to every claim of being a videogame in the best of ways. It was funny and exciting. It had a really great female character. It was otherwise all men.