Book Loot – October / Updates

So… 2020’s almost over. Which is pretty nice. The pandemic isn’t in a great place right now, with nearly 200k new cases daily in the US. Politics really aren’t any better, with our current Commander in Chief refusing to acknowledge the pandemic at all, while it rages. He also refuses to accept other things, but let’s not get into that. My own anxiety is pretty dang high, as I’m working six days a week somehow. And half of them are surrounded by people. And people in my state continue to ignore the whole mask thing. But let’s not dwell on that.

At the moment, I have no new ARCs for December. I only requested one, and haven’t heard back about Memoria. So, I’m assuming that this’ll be my catch-up month. But we’ll address that later. First, for what I collected this month:

Purchases

Forged – by Benedict Jacka

Eleventh of a planned twelve in the series, Forged comes at a time when SHRHTF for Alex. I won’t spoil it for those of you who are behind and have any interest, but sufficient to say that we’re seeing a new, uncut Verus who’s in it to win it. I can’t wait to tuck into this—right after I finish Blood of Empire!

Planetside – by Michael Mammay

I was planning on waiting til it actually got here to declare it as loot, but whatever. I’ve heard good things about this series (particularly from Niki), so went out and got a used copy. As I’ve no ARCs for December, and I seriously underperformed with regards to scifi month—figured this was the perfect time.

Purchased Games

Since I bought more new games this month (all during black friday sales (all online, I might add) where I’ve apparently no constraint), I figured I might at least talk those up. I’ve always planned on having more of a gaming presence on here but haven’t really ever gotten around to it. Maybe this’ll help (I guess we’ll see).

Horizon: Zero Dawn Complete

This was an impulse thing. It was on sale, I’ve heard great things about it, so here we are. I pretty much just doubled my game haul for the year in one week. I’ll probably get to this sometime next year—here’s hoping it’s good!

Control: Ultimate Edition

This game I’ve wanted pretty much since it’s release but held off because of some news of lag and glitches. But from what I’ve heard those are pretty much patched by now and I’ve managed to get the game and dlc on sale. I’m… pretty excited to get into this. Not as much as Cyberpunk, but close.

Borderlands 3

One of my favorite co-op series, I don’t play much Borderlands by myself. But as some of my friends are locked away, I managed to B1G1 free and figured I’d gift someone a copy to play it with me. If anyone reading this owns it already and has any interest in some co-op, do let me know, eh?

In terms of news… well we’ve pretty much covered it, right? The US sucks right now. Y’all stay safe, y’hear? I’ve a nasty cold this week that wiped my schedule clean—apparently if you have 2+ COVID symptoms you’re required to quarantine or get a test, but they’re desperate around here as everybody has it—so I actually got some rest in. But since I felt pretty awful during most of the week, I didn’t really get to enjoy much of it.

Anyway, this brings us to December. There’re a couple of posts I want to do this month in addition to reviews, which hopefully I’ll get around to in-between my chaotic work schedule. One is that I’m declaring next year a reread year, where I’ll reread some of my favorite books and see if they live up to my memory of them. I’d been kicking around the idea for a while now, but really focused on it after a comment by Piotrek over on Re-Enchantment. Now all I need is some cool artwork and an even cooler name for it. Which… doesn’t seem too likely, but hey—could happen.

Yeah so, let’s get this year over with!

On Tap 11/14

Currently Reading

• After Atlas – by Emma Newman

The second in the series from Planetfall author Emma Newman, I’ve heard that this is better than the original, which is good, as the entire thing was overshadowed by the trainwreck of an ending. But the first book is also what haunts our lead, Detective Carlos Moreno. But when a murder forces Moreno to confront the demons of his past, it also forces him to dig deeper into the departure of Atlas—more deeply than he ever wanted.

• Phoenix Extravagant – by Yoon Ha Lee

Ah, one of the backlog of ARCs that somehow I missed. While not exactly science fiction, it’s not exactly NOT science fiction. I mean, there are automatons. Dragons. A government coverup. And… magic paint? Anyway, just started this, so no insights yet, but I’m optimistic!

Up Next

• Salvation – by Peter F. Hamilton

What will be my 3rd Hamilton novel, Salvation features an entire galaxy ripe for the taking, and a colonization of planets stretching unchecked across the stars. Unchecked, that is, until a mysterious disaster that hints of a threat mankind might have somehow overlooked. A menace that might just prove their downfall.

Other Stuff

I actually have a science fiction review coming out tomorrow, so there’s that. There’s some political stuff going on, which I’m going to avoid talking about… past saying that this election is indicative as to why the two-party system really doesn’t work. And why we need to take third parties more seriously. And that’s it for that.

Almost have finished Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning. I’m maybe 80 hours in, almost done with the main story, still glut with side quests, and I’m only now starting to get sick of it. I’d certainly recommend it, if you’re looking for a good game on the cheap (I’ve been playing the PS3 version) or you could try the re-release for the current systems.

COVID continues to ravage the Mountain West states, as Montana has been posting around 1000 new cases a day for the past two weeks! Yesterday we just posted a record 1214 new cases. This week at least 30 of the 50 people I worked with tested positive. Considering we’ve a population of barely a million, this is staggering. And while a fair amount of people are crying panic, it seems more (around here) are just content to ignore it. Putting aside every political belief for a second, I just can’t believe this is happening. Not only here, but around the country. I… I can’t even think of what to say about it.

My anxiety has been crazy lately. With everything that’s going on, I just want to lock my doors and hide in the corner. I haven’t been sleeping well or getting much reading done. I’m firmly in the camp that we all need to hide in doors and go out as little as possible, but the incoming administration in my state vehemently disagrees. So… I’ll power through—at least for now—but something has to change. Soon.

Hope the rest of y’all are keeping safe! And for my international friends and followers: I love you guys, please don’t come visit. It sucks here.

On Tap 6/16

Currently Reading

• The Tattered Banner – by Duncan M. Hamilton

Something off my TBR for a while now, you may remember I picked up the trilogy on audio a month or two back. I’ve been reading it while playing the Long Dark, so it’s been entertaining enough. It’s… okay, so far, but shows that it’s the author’s debut book. Soren is a good character to read along to—picked up off the street, enrolled and sponsored in a sword academy, he learns it’s what he’s been seeking all along—but the story is a bit dry thus far. Let’s hope that changes, eh?

• Every Sky a Grave – by Jay Posey

Another scifi book hot on the heels of Red Noise. I LOVED Jay Posey’s Duskwalker series, but never got around to his Outrider ones. If Every Sky a Grave proves good, I may just have to remedy this. Elyth is a planetary assassin that wields the mystical Language of the Universe, to do strange and impossible things. But when another power emerges, manipulating this Language in ways Elyth has never conceived, it will be up to her to… change that? The blurb wasn’t super descriptive, and I’m just starting out. Stay tuned!

• The Poacher’s Son – by Paul Doiron

Well, my dad has me reading one of his mystery/thrillers. Centered around Maine game warden Mike Bowditch, this is the start of what’s now an 11 book series. So far, not bad, though a little cliché. Like the character enough, however, and hope it continues to be alright. My dad and I don’t exactly share a taste in books, but he’s been reading a lot of my fantasy ones lately, so I figured I’d humor him.

Up Next

• After Atlas – by Emma Newman

Considering that June is scifi month (what—November? Noo~) We’ll be continuing on later with this follow-up to Planetfall, which I was rather torn on (the ending, the ending sucked). Luckily (and also unluckily) this takes an entirely new direction, delving into the state of the Earth after the ship Atlas left. It’s one of my Top 2020 TBRs so I hope it’s entertaining!

• In the Village Where the Brightwine Flows – by Bradley P. Beaulieu

A novella following Dardzada, whose cruel half-brother enlists him to help discern what’s happening to the city’s street urchins. I’m not sure, but I imagine it probably snowballs. With When Jackals Storm the Walls coming out in mid-July, I figured this reminder of the Shattered Sands might help me get back into the world with a little brush-up.

Life

So the world continues to spiral. I won’t address it, but y’all know what side I’m on. I swear, it seems we as a people and we as a planet just cannot get along. On a personal note, I’m still sick. Not sure what I have exactly, but it’s COVID-like, without being COVID. Pretty much I’m short of breath, fatigued and feel weak all the time. Plus I haven’t been sleeping (the breathing makes it hard), so that’s super helpful. And I might be out of a job. Haven’t heard from my boss in a while, despite my attempts. But they haven’t resumed work yet, so hopefully I’m just overreacting. All I know is that no one wants to hire someone with COVID-y symptoms, and I don’t have the energy to do much anyway. So… yeah. Awesome. Otherwise I’ve been playing the Long Dark—though I had to buy it on console (at full price even!), since the newest update kept crashing on my computer and I really love that dang game. But at least the new lack of trophies gives me something to do.

Hope y’all are doing better than I—it’s been a year, and it ain’t even half over yet. Which is… just great. Can’t wait for the election; I’m sure that’ll unite the country. Anyway, has anyone read any of these? Good, bad, ugly—let me know! Or just let me know how you’re doing, what’s up, or if you want to talk about anything else.

Oh, and my sister is posting some Dancougar stuff, to see if she wants to start an anime blog. I’ve never seen the show, but I’ve heard it’s solid. Go check it out?

Book Loot – May Edition

After I stockpiled a bunch of books last month to see me through this new illness and my social distancing plans this summer (it’s not really a COVID thing, I’m introverted every summer) (most of the year, actually), this month I really didn’t get much. Didn’t buy a single book, even. While I didn’t get a lot of book loot, I DO go on a rant about one of the games I got this month. So, that’s mildly interesting.

ARCs for June

By Force Alone – by Lavie Tidhar (6/16)

Ye gods this book. A grimdark retelling of the Arthurian legend, it’s definitely nailed the darkness. TBH I hate every character in this book. That I’ve read so far, at least. And there haven’t been that many, as I can’t get into it. It’s just… bad. I’ve tried four separate times and haven’t yet surpassed 10%. It’s certainly looking like a DNF at this point. Although I don’t usually review DNFs on here, I’ll do a group DNF here sometime soon, but maybe check out Rebecca’s over at Powder & Page in the meantime? It’s only slightly more flattering than mine will be.

The Adventures of Rockford T. Honeypot – by Josh Gottsegen (6/23)

As a young chipmunk, shy, bookish Rockford T. Honeypot had dreams of thrilling adventures across the forest. However, timid of danger and germs, his only adventures were found in books and his imagination. When his family abandons him after a mistake that destroys their hazelnut business, Rockford sets off on a legendary journey beyond his wildest dreams.

Honestly, it sounds like some kind of reluctant adventurer meets Redwall scenario. A middle-grade book, I’ll probably start it after I finish (or bin) By Force Alone.

The Kingdom of Liars – by Nick Martell (6/23)

Originally scheduled for release on May 5th, it’s been pushed back, which gives me more time to read it! I actually only snagged a copy after hearing some friends‘ reviews, which was lucky enough considering it should’ve been published before I had a chance. Years earlier, Michael was accused of murdering the king’s only son. By his own father. Branded a traitor and cast out of society, now he robs the rich, but is desperate for a way to reclaim his old life. In a world where magic costs memories, Michael must survive a civil war between magic and technology, with a family dictatorship standing atop the throne.

Purchases

None!

Games

AC: Syndicate

After I sank nearly 130 hours into AC: Odyssey, I figured I’d go back in time a little. Turns out Syndicate was on sale this month so I got it for $9. Woot! I’ve always wanted to play it, so everything works out.

The Sinking City (aka: the rant)

A title from Sherlock Holmes publisher Frogwares, the Sinking City is a Lovecraftian horror game revolving around war vet and gumshoe Charles W. Reed. Now, I’d been after this one for a while. I almost got it when it came out, but the price was a bit steep. Finally found it on sale this month and… I’m still a little disappointed. I’d heard it wasn’t great, so my expectations weren’t high. So, good news first: The detective aspects are its best feature. There’s no handholding, no line that you can follow around that shows you exactly where to go and who to talk to and what to look for. There are hints—but they’re few and far between. This is mostly rewarding, but sometimes irritating as heck. For better or worse, it’s up to you to solve the crimes, and rely on your own thought-process to do so.

Now the bad news. First off, the game plays like a PS3 version ported to a PS4. It lags a fair amount, especially between areas. The graphics aren’t up to snuff. The people are pretty good, but they mostly reminded me of the NPCs in Skyrim; one expression, constant waving their arms, repeating the same lines over and over. The game is set in Oakmont, a city cut off from the States by an epic flood. Despite the game world being quite large, it isn’t very interactive. Most of the buildings are inaccessible, and several more can only be entered during specific missions. When they end, so does the access. There are several different areas, each supposed to represent a different people and culture. Instead it looks like the same block repeated over and over. There’s a little variation, but not much. And since you can only enter maybe one building per block, it matters little. The platforming is awful. You can’t jump, only mantle, and only in certain places. And you don’t fall gracefully. Even if you just walk off the curb, it’s either a predescribed falling motion—complete with a comical “oof”, which you definitely take damage from, no matter the height—or you just glitch to the bottom. The combat, if anything, is worse.

It’s a detective game—the combat seems to’ve been added as an afterthought. It’s point and shoot. Nothing more. There’s a auto-aim system that snaps to the target’s… groin. With the amount of damage done by each shot, and the scarcity of ammunition—it’s worse than useless. And since the auto-aim snaps to every enemy’s gut every time, you can’t really aim yourself. I mostly just ran away. And then stopped playing.

Wrap-up

So… next month should be busy. I have a backpacking trip scheduled with friends—all of which have backed out. And the place is reservation only (since it’s fairly popular), so I’ll have to go somewhere else. Dunno if I will. We’ll see. Lots of books to read, though. The amount and quality of books coming out in July is staggering. Unless they get delayed.

As usual, lemme know if you’ve read or played any of these, or are looking forward to anything else. I’d love to hear! Or maybe if you’re going on holiday anywhere fun. Or… is that a thing this year? Or are we just staying home and drinking? Let me know!

TBR – May 2020

Since I totally failed at reading Blood of Empire recently—not because of it, more because I’m broken, because I can’t focus on things—I figured we’d ditch the normal and talk about some of the more obscure titles on my TBR. I mean, they might not be obscure for you, but are more titles that I want to read, but haven’t for some reason. Things I still would love to read, but’ve been shelved for the foreseeable future for a variety of reasons, and I don’t have any idea when I’ll get to them.

Currently Reading

• An Ember in the Ashes – by Sabaa Tahir

So I’ve got this as an audiobook and… I’ve been struggling to get through it. It’s good—pretty good, at least—but I’m just having trouble concentrating. A good YA book thus far, though I’m finding (early on, at least) that the way Elias has been watching Laia a little weird. But whatever.

TBR for ???

I’ve meant to get to Those Above for some time now—I do believe it made it into one of my longer lists last year—but haven’t. I wasn’t a huge fan of Low Town, and… I dunno. It LOOKS good, but… well, BUT. And there’s that.

Hexed is the novelization of the comic series by Michael Alan Nelson, and I’ve heard he actually did a pretty good job writing it, so I’m encouraged. It’s fairly short as well, and supposedly a quick read. But he was really upbeat about it at one point and was going to do a bunch more and continue the series and stuff… but that really hasn’t happened. The series is over (I think—pretty sure) and there aren’t any more books. I guess that’s tempered my interest.

I… I’m not a huge fan of Mark Lawrence. Like… yeah. Pretty much just that. There’s no way around it, really. I hated Jorg—so much that I didn’t read Emperor of Thorns. I liked Jalan better, but apparently not a ton since I never made it past Book #1. I’ve enjoyed his Impossible Times stuff, and I read the first few chapters for Red Sister and immediately got the book. And put it on my shelf. Where it’s stayed until now.

The Edge of Dark is supposedly an impressive cyberpunk and scifi book that begins a thoughtful series. Do you know? Have you read it? I totally ADORE cyberpunk and yet—here it sits. Untouched. I’m really enjoying Automatic Reload right now, so maybe after that, but… I’m skeptical. I’ve met me, after all.

Shadow of the Winter King has been on my TBR for like, 10 years. Pretty impressive considering it was only released in 2014. I’ve heard more mixed things about this than anything else on this list, but I still want to read it. No idea when that desire will actually evolve into me doing anything about it though.

Behold: the one Sanderson book I’ve never read. Okay, there’s more than one. Dude writes like, a dozen a year—there’s only so many I can read through. But Warbreaker‘s been out for over a decade, and I’ve had it for most of that time. Actually, I think I’ve had it for MORE than that time. I got it as a freebie from the man himself (well, his website) when he was promoting… something. I can’t remember. Maybe this, maybe the Wheel of Time stuff. I dunno. I think you can still get it for free over on his website. Here, even.

Yeah, so, this month’s TBR is pretty much just a list of books that I haven’t read and have some desire to, but ultimately not enough (yet, at least). While instead of doing anything about it I sit around reading through ARCs and trying not to spend money. If you don’t know, I’m a recreation coordinator (that’s a fancy name for what I do, which is mostly just trying entertain children with different colored sportsballs), and I’m currently off til mid-June. Since I got laid off my part-timer in March, and am currently sick (but not with COVID, I think, though I’ve not yet gotten my test results)—this is pretty much it. I’ve no energy (’cause of the sick thing, mostly) and no attention span (I’m just like that sometimes). You can probably tell from this extremely rambly post. That I DID rewrite and edit, by the way. Just, poorly, it seems. So… yeah. No complaints. I’m okay (more or less), I have enough accumulated to live on, there’s nothing to go and do anyway. I’m an introvert, so this is my natural habitat. I hope y’all are surviving just as well, and as places start to reopen—Montana is in the 2nd or 3rd stage of this already as we’ve not even had 500 cases total—can begin to return to some semblance of normalcy.

I hope you didn’t want to actually hear about the books themselves because I just realized I didn’t do that. Annnnd I’m already late on this so… have you read any of these, or do you also need to? Reading anything good right now? Anything that I need to put these off even longer to read instead? Because I will probably make that sacrifice.

On Tap 11/14

UPDATE

Lately, I’ve been dealing with a health issue that, while it’s not serious, has been particularly uncomfortable, precipitated a diet change, and made it incredibly difficult to focus on much of anything including either reading or writing. As such, I’ll probably be a little lax in updating, especially with reviews. Just for a bit, though. I fully plan to keep reading and review stuff, just November content may be a bit scarce. It’s also killed my Nanowrimo-ing for the month.

Currently Reading

• Age of Legend – by Michael J. Sullivan

Well, Michael J. Sullivan hasn’t broken my heart in THIS one yet. Still plenty of time, though. It’s actually a little darker and more bloody than those previous. With Age of Death in hand, I’m hoping to burn through them in anticipation of the Age of Empyre kickstarter in January!

• Bands of Mourning – by Brandon Sanderson

A reread and the supposed penultimate Wax & Wayne Mistborn adventure is all good fun. Plus it’s an audiobook which I was hoping would make it easier to focus on.

Up Next

• Magebane – by Stephen Aryan

The end of the Age of Dread, the stuff of two trilogies in the making—I can’t wait to get into it. I’m hoping both Vargus and Balfruss have excellent storylines, and Wren and Garvey as well.

• Hitchhiking Through Fire – by Brent McKnight

Picked this up a week or so ago—even though I’ve never heard of the author, or the book even before that. But the description looked cool, kinda like a mashup of Metro, Three, the Road, and the Last of Us. Can’t wait!

On Tap 06/23

Currently Reading

• Beneath the Twisted Trees – by Bradley P. Beaulieu

Book 4 of a predicted 6 Shattered Sands, opens with Çeda… well, I won’t ruin it. Sufficient to say I’m terribly excited about where this installment—and ultimately the series—will lead. NetGalley was very nice to furnish me with a copy (incidentally, this might be the longest I’ve gone without buying a book in ten years—which is great as I’m still not rich) (totally isn’t gonna last though; the not-buying-books thing, not the not-being-rich one). Other than Çeda, the character I’m most looking forward to revisiting is Ramahd. Following the events of Veil of Spears, he has lost Meryam and been exiled from his homeland, furthermore Çeda wants nothing more to do with him. Will he recover? Will he do something foolish or desperate? I dunno. Yet. Who are you looking forward to revisiting?

Next Up

• Silver in the Wood – by Emily Tesh

I really want to read this one as I’ve read the teaser already but somehow abstained from buying it on the spot. Mostly because I was waffling between a physical book and the ebook version. Still am kinda. Other than the characters, setting and plot, I’ve no idea why anyone would want to read this. Never heard of the author before—but I’m sure that will change.

• Fallen Gods – by James A. Moore

Upon finishing Book 1 of the Tides of War, I kicked around a bit before buying the second. Audio CD version must’ve been like, $4-5? It’s up a bit now, and I’m not in love with the reader to recommend him without reading it first. And that was good enough after a lackluster intro to Brogan McTyre’s story. So, I have this all loaded up, and with a couple backpacking trips in the near future, I should have plenty of trail-time to get through it.

To Do

I have a couple reviews to get up. I’m touching up ones for Verses for the Dead and Exit Strategy that should be up later this week, hopefully. And I’m finishing digesting Crowfall, so that shouldn’t be much later. It was AMAZING, so I’m super excited to see how everyone else likes it when it comes out.

I need to do a “Stacking the Shelves” thing to. Never done one before, and they’re a fair bit of work, but I really like them, so I’ll try and break one in… Monday-Tuesday-ish? We’ll see.

Ah, also I just got Red Dead Redemption. Both of ’em. I’ve played a bit of the first one, which was awesome, but the second looks incredible, so… I maaaay be a little late on some things come July.