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 9/7

Currently Reading

Havenfall – by Sarah Holland

An interesting YA Fantasy regarding the crossroads of multiple worlds located in Colorado, which for some confusing reason doesn’t involve a stargate. The romance isn’t actually terrible, and the story is unique enough to me that I’m having no trouble reading it.

Bystander 27 – by Rik Hoskin

Like a mashup of the Reckoners and the Punisher. It reads a bit like a Peter Clines novel, albeit with some very dated language. And some serious repetition issues. But with an interesting mystery and an action-packed plot, it’s definitely entertaining!

Night Sky – by Robert Harvey

A lovely, LOVELY book about bits of the universe that you can see with your naked eye. While I have an ARC of the upcoming ebook version, now I totally want a hardcover of this! It has many, many BEAUTIFUL photos! I’m already recommending checking this out, if you like scifi or astronomy. Or just beautiful pictures.

Up Next

Seventh Perfection – by Daniel Polansky

A secret behind the God-King’s reign may unravel everything. But only those having completed the final perfection are privy to the secret, those closest and most dedicated to the God-King’s rule. I’m more than ready to get into this one!

Upcoming Reviews

These will all have reviews, I promise. Ish. I promise-ish.

Crownbreaker (that’s tomorrow!) was incredible, ditto with Network Effect, so just go read both of them! There we go, problem solved.

Also, I’ve been watching Let’s Plays of Tell Me Why, since I don’t have a XBox and WHY DON’T I HAVE AN XBOX I WANT TO PLAY THIS GAME NOW. Everyone have a good week!

On Tap 8/09

I’m not even going to talk about the world right now. It’s still there. And full of people. Anyhow, reading:

Currently Reading

• Vengeful – by V.E. Schwab

Sequel to Vicious regards individuals that escaped death, but came back changed; extraordinary. Just not necessarily good. Jeremy Arthur is doing his best to bring this to life thus far, though the ultimate plot has yet to evolve. Unless it’s just wossname dying—in which case… meh.

• Every Sky a Grave – by Jay Posey

Planetary assassins wielding ancient power take center stage in this universe-spanning space-opera. Just getting back into it after a month away.

Up Next

• Havenfall – by Sara Holland

An Inn at the crossroads of four realms and a girl sworn to protect it. But when a dead body is found, Maddie must solve the mystery of the death before the peace is broken.

Gaming

• No Man’s Sky

Yeah, I waited for a bunch of the free updates before trying this. I’m hoping it’ll prove more of a successor to one of my all-time favs, EV Nova. So far, there’s a lot of exploration, a lot of crafting, but not much of any kind of guidance, like a plot. Not that it’s bad, but… am I missing something?

On Tap 7/17

Currently Reading

• The God Game – by Danny Tobey

Who suggested this? Whomever it was, I hate them. Because, I mean… I do need to sleep, you know? And this book seriously isn’t helping. For what G.O.D. wants, G.O.D. gets. And if it doesn’t, you might just find yourself losing. And if you lose in the game, you lose in life. And you lose YOUR life.

• They Mostly Come Out at Night – by Benedict Patrick

Just started this. Read it before—a while ago. Remembered I liked it, but. Can’t remember what the “but” was. Lonan hides in his cellar at night, safely beyond the reach of the darkness. But in his dreams he’s a prince, one whose world is slowly being taken from him. When the dreams turn prophetic, Lonan must regain the trust of his village or risk his dreams coming true.

• The Hidden Life of Ice – by Marco Tedesco

So far this is a huge disappointment. I’ve always liked ice, especially blue ice, and been fascinated glaciers and by places like Greenland. So far—about halfway through (a book that’s maybe 150 pages)—there’s been nothing about ice. I mean, nothing. This is why I don’t read non-fiction. Seriously.

Up Next

• Every Sky a Grave – by Jay Posey

I had to stop reading this to read Constant Rabbit earlier in the summer, and never got back to it. That needs to change. A planetary assassin wielding the Language of the Universe comes across an unknown power using the same power at far greater efficiency—but is it good, or evil? And no matter what it is—is there any way to stop it?

• Network Effect – by Martha Wells

So, I’ve had Network Effect for almost a month but haven’t read it yet. Yeah, I’ve been busy with a lot of fancy and amazing ARCs, but still. I mean… Murderbot. That should say it all. I honestly can’t remember the blurb for this, but it’s probably “something something Murderbot something awesome something epic.” And now I really want to read it.

Update – Currently Reading

So since yesterday, I started a new book. It started with an email I received from the publisher, asking how I’d liked the read, and imploring me to get my review for it in. I’ve nothing against the asking, but this caught me off guard. See, the book in question had been delayed in the US til late September. So I’ve put it off a bit as my July is littered with new releases, and I’m not a very fast reader. But I overlooked two important details. One—I didn’t check to see if it was delayed in Europe as well and—two—I’d forgotten just who granted me the review copy. I don’t get many books off Netgalley UK, but this one I did. And it’s still due out July 2 there. So I’ve shuffled a few things, and begun reading:

• The Constant Rabbit – by Jasper Fforde

If you’ve never read a Jasper Fforde book, let me tell you—they’re odd. Like, really weird. The first chapter of this involved some game called ‘Competitive Librarying’ which confused me so thoroughly that I actually just skipped the chapter. But thankfully, it appears to be just an intro hook. Albeit a massively confounding one. The Constant Rabbit is based on something that has occurred in the UK some 50 years prior, known only as “The Event”, in which 18 rabbits were anthropomorphized. Since then, there are millions of them in the UK alone, and relations between them and humans are… strained. The story seems to center on this point.

It’s okay thus far—weird, which is normal for Fforde—but it’s really coming out at a poor time. I cringe at the idea that someone’s going to compare this with the Black Lives Matter movement, because it WILL happen eventually, and it’s sure to be really insulting. Which is disappointing, as the book is most likely designed to keep you entertained, make you think, and provide some humor.

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?

On Tap 5/30

Currently Reading

• To Be Taught, If Fortunate – by Becky Chambers

If some scifi stories are more fiction than science, To Be Taught, If Fortunate is probably more science than… well, a comparable amount of both science and fiction. An group of explorers travel somewhere no ‘man has ever been: an extrasolar system. What they find here is beyond their wildest dreams, but it’s what they left behind that may provide the biggest surprise at all. For what are people if not curious, and what would happen should that curiosity fade?

• The Bayern Agenda – by Dan Moren

The Bayern Agenda is the second Galactic Cold War book, and the first through Angry Robot who kindly sent me a copy. At about the quarter mark right now and it reads like a pretty standard military scifi thriller, but there’s still a ways to go.

• Eden – by Tim Lebbon

Eden is an eco-supernatural thriller about a future where the world has succumbed to climate change and global warming. In a last-ditch effort to combat this, the world established several Virigin Zones that were returned to nature. Jenn and her father are part of a team that race across these wildernesses, but this time they might’ve gone too far. Eden is the oldest and wildest of the Zones, and who knows what may lurk within?

• People of the Rainforest – by John Hemming

People of the Rainforest is my lone nonfiction read of the year, regarding the Villas Boas brothers and their exploration of the Amazon jungle basin. As with all nonfiction titles, this one boasts an incredibly long name, which I neither can remember nor repeat.

Up Next

• Age of Empyre – by Michael J. Sullivan

The sixth and final book in the Legends of the First Empire series, now we find out what two consecutive cliffhangers have set in motion. And whether or not Suri is the Heir of Novron. Or… right?

It’s been a scifi heavy month for me. Which is a wee bit odd, as I think it’s fantasy month everywhere else. But sometimes that’s how things go.

Obviously the world’s still not in its best place, but that seems the norm nowadays, sadly. Hopefully we get it together here soon. Otherwise, my little corner of nowhere’s been pretty quiet. Still sick, but it ain’t COVID, so that’s good. But it’s been stirring up lately with my allergies and my anxiety and reflux and everything, so it’s been tough to figure what I have, exactly. But it’ll get better. Anyway what’s everyone else reading? Anything I need to get to? Let me know!

On Tap 4/30

Currently Reading

The Last Stormlord – by Glenda Larke

Granthon is the only Stormlord left in Breccia, the only one able to bring rain to the Quartern. Without him—all will be lost, the lands returning to dust and sand—the only rains that fall will be unscheduled, natural, wild. As Granthon’s son searches for an answer, a slave and a worthless boy may yet rise to save the world. Or doom it.

Now, after I abandoned a couple of things at the top of my TBR, I just decided to grab something and give it a shot. This was an impulse read. It’s been idling around on a shelf, and I’ve always meant to read it. I’m about 1/6 of the way through and so far, so good. I’m a fan of Larke’s writing, so maybe I’ll actually finish it.

Sea Change – by Nancy Kress

A climate-change thriller about a woman and her past, the same woman and her future, and the Organization that might yet save the world. A cell of environmental radicals, they might be the only hope the world has left. I started this novella just recently, and it’s alright thus far. I got an email from the publisher a few weeks back that they’d pushed the release date back to May, but I haven’t actually seen anything that corroborates this; anyone know?

Up Next

The Kingdom of Back – by Marie Lu

A book I honestly can’t remember anything about—automatically checked out from my library’s online section. Uhh, two siblings blessed with musical ability, but only one will be remembered forever. Apparently it’s historical fiction set in the 18th century… and I’ll just go in blind. Reading like that is fun every now and then.

It’s been a tough month for me, reading-wise. Everything I start I seem to stall out on; mostly I’ve only gotten through audiobooks, though I managed to clear a couple print books too. Even got through an ARC or two. Ranger of Marzanna was a DNF, sadly, so there won’t be a review of that. Sufficient to say it was BORING and nothing happened and I hated the characters. There’re a few ARCs I’m behind on, a few I’m too excited to wait patiently for, and I dunno what’s going to win out. I guess we’ll see.

What’s everyone else reading? Anything I need to get to? Let me know!

On Tap 04/03

Currently Reading

• Witchsign – by Den Patrick

Working off the top of my TBR this week as I was having trouble focusing on any ARC, which… is disappointing, but gives me an excuse to color outside the box a little. Witchsign—in addition to having a cover to die for—is a pretty good read thus far. The Witchsign has always been associated with the Dragons, but since they were overthrown 70 years before, those with the talent are gathered up by the Empire and killed. Or so everyone believes. Steiner has no talent for magic—of that he’s sure. But his sister Kjell is a different matter. With the Inquisition coming to town, Steiner would go to any length to protect her. And he may have to. Update: Halfway point—not perfect, but pretty good.

• Senlin Ascends – by Josiah Bancroft

When Thomas Senlin visits the Tower of Babel for the first time, he knows what to expect. He’s read and studied about it his whole life. Except, nothing is as he thought it was. With a day of arriving, his young wife has been lost, Senlin robbed, and their honeymoon ruined. Now Senlin must reach the tower’s top to find her—or return home in shame, alone. I can see why this was quite the sensation when it was rereleased a few years back. What I can’t figure is how it wasn’t immediately picked up by a publisher after its 2013 self-publication, but oh well. So far a lovely and interesting read and ANOTHER off my TBR for the year.

Up Next

• Blood of Empire – by Brian McClellan

I swear—I SWEAR—this is next. I WILL read it after Witchsign. I’ve a physical copy, so it’ll have to wait that long. But it’s waited long enough besides. I also acquired a copy of Where Gods Fear to Go recently, but that’ll have to wait its turn.

ARCs & Audiobooks

Either Ranger of Marzanna or Shorefall, probably. I also have a copy of Automatic Reload I want to get to, but it’ll likely have to wait. I’ll probably lead with Marzanna, as I’m a bigger fan of Skovron than of Bennett, but we’ll see, eh? I’ll also probably add some audiobook, though I’m less than sure what it’ll be. After Senlin Ascends, I might want to get right to the Arm of the Sphinx, but it could be Arlo Finch in the Kingdom of Shadows, Ten Thousand Doors of January, or something else. Future’s a big mystery, at the moment.

Gaming

75+ hours into AC: Odyssey and I’ve yet to uncover the whole world. I’m mean seriously—how big is Greece really? Done remarkably little of the DLC as well. So… might be on that for a while longer. Otherwise . . . um. I’ve a craving for the Long Dark lately. Haven’t played it since their last update deleted my saves, but it’s time to go back to the nuclear winter. Great survival and exploration game, if you’re into either of those. It’s also the ONE post-apocalyptic thing I’ve been able to stand recently. Most calm I’ve ever felt in an apocalypse. Plus I’ve logged hundreds of hours through the 6 years I’ve owned it.

Otherwise, the world is… what it is. I was laid off one job in early March when the dow started to tank, and my other job is on hold til May 8th. I have enough savings to get through it, and I’ve family to stay with, so I’m good. Plus I’ve been sick (with what I can neither confirm nor deny may be COVID) for the past three-ish weeks, and no one’s hiring sickies lately. So I’ve some free time. To read. To game. To chat, if anyone’s interested. To develop other hobbies. Or maybe I’ll post some apocatips for the apocalypse. Dunno.

On Tap 02/28

Currently Reading

• The Bone Ships – by R.J. Barker

People of the Hundred Isles have long built their ships from dragon bones. But longer ago, dragons disappeared from the land. But now a lone dragon appears in far off waters, and the bounty is out on its head. For whomever claims it shall win not only glory, but more. An ARC I didn’t get to last year returns this year as an audiobook.

• A Man of Shadows – by Jeff Noon

A truly weird mystery set in a city split by light and darkness. John Nyquist pursues a girl through brilliance and shadow, while in her wake an invisible murderer strikes, terrifying those that inhabit the city of the sun. But the girl may hold the key to stopping the murderer, if Nyquist can only reach her first. Jeff Noon’s apparently known for weird, but after 100 pages I can honestly tell you that not even my strangest dreams could’ve rivaled this world. And in this case that’s a really good thing.

• Brightstorm – by Vashti Hardy

A kids’ book about a brother-sister adventure team. When their father is lost while trying to reach South Polaris, it costs the Brightstorm twins more than a dad. They lose their home, livelihood and welfare, all based on the suspicion that their father sabotaged a fellow adventurer. Now Arthur and Maudie look to reclaim their family honor—by reaching South Polaris and finding the truth. What can I say—it’s not too deep or anything, but it’s a kids’ book. It’s an exciting, fun adventure!

Up Next

• Blood of Empire – by Brian McClellan

As the final battle between Fatrasta and the Dynize looms large, a spy, a mercenary and a faded war hero must band together to defend the continent—and keep the invaders from using the Godstones to create new gods. While one rides at the head of a new army, another must infiltrate the Dynize all on their own, while the third invades Dynize at the head of a scattered fleet of lancers. It took waaay too long for me to get to this and I’m ready to read it damnit!

Still have some more ARCs to get through before mid-March, so my next digital book will be one of them. I’ve two science fiction adventures and a rare non-fiction book to get into yet!

Gaming

Mutant Year Zero

A combination of stealth, tactics and mutants, Mutant Year Zero has been quite the addiction lately. I’m not a huge fan of turn-based combat, but I do love the stealth required by this game. That said—it’s hard. If you try it, prepare to die a lot. I mean, A LOT. Sure, you can play on Normal, where your squad heals after combat, but what fun is that? As long as you prepare before each encounter and whittle the enemy down by picking off the outliers using stealth, you can keep the deaths to a minimum. The story isn’t the most immersive consistently, but cut-scenes fill in enough of it that you don’t get too detached from what’s going on. Hopefully it picks up later on though.