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.

On Tap 2/11

Currently Reading

The Last Smile in Sunder City – by Luke Arnold

The Last Smile in Sunder City is the debut novel by actor Luke Arnold (he played Long John Silvers on Black Sails). It’s the tale of misplaced hope in a dark world where all hope—along with all the magic—is gone, and formerly magical creatures while away their remaining years alive before time takes them like the dust they’ve become. It’s very uplifting.

Actually just finished this one. Not much to say about it but that it’s a solid 4-star book and you’ll have to check back to hear my thoughts. Pretty good!

The Hazel Wood – by Melissa Alberts

Another darker take on fairy tales, but instead of reworking a classic, Albert’s gone and made up her own. It’s pretty good so far, in an awkward teen kinda way. I just grabbed this from my library recently, but it’s not too hard to get into. Plus the reader’s alright, though not amazing.

Up Next

I’m looking to get a jump on next month’s ARCs—as there’re 5 alone coming out the week of the 15th (Ravencaller, Liquid Crystal Nightingale, Brightstorm, etc) (I also have a copy of By Force Alone, which supposedly comes out in the UK in March, though isn’t released in the US until the summer, so I’ll probably wait on that), but I haven’t decided on any specifics. I also have a few overdue ones to burn through still, so hopefully whatever I read will help one of those aims. And be good. If it’s not good, I probably won’t stay with it.

Gaming

I don’t get into gaming as much as I thought I might when I first started out. A big thing in gaming is to stream your games, or at least have clips where you talk about them—at least those’re things my friends are usually on about—but well, I personally hate the sound of my voice recorded, so. Yes, yes, I know everyone hates how they sound on film. But I just sound bored and kinda stoned. So it’s not happening.

Anyway, lately I’ve been working through The Surge. It’s… frustrating. I’m not a huge From Software/Dark Souls kinda guy, and I don’t hate my life enough to waste it on difficult, annoying, repetitive fighting and dying. So I doubt I’m going to finish it. Next up is probably Mutant Year Zero, if you’re into that. If not—or you’re not into gaming at all—please ignore this. There’re some book things above and many more book things in the future.

So, what’re you reading now? Or playing? Have you been through any of what I’ve mentioned here, and if so, how’d you like them? Let me know!

On Tap 01/09

Currently Reading

The Outlaw and the Upstart King – by Rod Duncan

The second Map of Unknown Things I’m liking far more than the first—but still have a ways to go yet. I think the story’s better, so far. It’s not that Elizabeth can’t carry an entire book, but I think she does better with a divided load. Book Three is out next week!

A Longer Fall – by Charlaine Harris

The language is still bugging me, but that’s apparently Harris’s thing, so I doubt it’ll get any better. Just getting into the story now and… I dunno how it’s going to work. I’ve heard it’s not as good as the first, but… Review to come!

The Fall of the Readers – by Django Wexler

Alice’s swan song. So far so good. Listening to it right now, actually. Probably my favorite book of the year so far.

Up Next

The Fugitive and the Vanishing Man – by Rod Duncan

Assuming #2 works out well. Here’s hoping 🤞

Age of Death – by Michael J. Sullivan

Age of Legend left off with a bit of a cliffhanger. Can’t wait to jump back in to the adventure! I literally kinda want to start it now. But… no, must wait.

Queenslayer – by Sebastien de Castell

#5 of the Spellslinger series finds Kellen and Reichis… I dunno what they’re doing actually. Probably getting in trouble. I guess we’ll find out!

Have you read any of these? How are they? Anything else I need to look out for or add to my TBR? Let me know!

Otherwise

As a side note, I’m still sick—which is just awesome. It’s really cutting into my sleep, and my reading. I’ll have a TBR for the year out later this week, or early next. Then maybe a Spring Releases thing. Otherwise it’s just reading and sleeping. And maybe some work.

On Tap 12/12

Currently Reading

Blood Tally – by Brian McClellan

The second Valkyrie Collections book actually came out last month for Kickstarter backers, but unfortunately I was busy being sick and weak and um, not reading. Anyway, though I just started I’m already pretty hyped to get into it.

Up Next

• An Easy Death – by Charlaine Harris

Second or third time I’ve picked this one up, but I’m still excited to crack it. With Gunnie Rose #2 out in January, a full adventure awaits!

• The Fall of the Readers – by Django Wexler

Actually lost my library loan at 50% so I’ve had to re-request it. The final chapters of Alice’s adventure await. It’s the year of Django, apparently.

Gaming

This War of Mine

So I’ve been replaying This War of Mine and it’s still as atmospheric and bleak as before. A survival and resource management game, you take on the lives of a small group of survivors amidst a war-torn city. Through scavenging, trading and stealing you must either see them through the war, or find a way to escape the city. I’m actually approaching the two week mark in my most recent save and it’s this first that I’ve neither killed anyone nor lost one of my survivors to them. Of course, there’s a long way to go yet.

I haven’t yet played any of the DLC “stories” yet, and I’m honestly not interested in doing so. Haven’t heard great things about them, and the story set by the survivors is more than engrossing enough. I’d more than recommend the game, or just donating to War Child. Or both.

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 10/20

Currently Reading

The Palace of Glass – by Django Wexler

The third book in the Forbidden Library series finds Alice in a race to find a weapon that will allow her to defeat Gerrion and avenge her father.

Fortuna – by Kristyn Merbeth

Seems interesting enough at the outset, but while it features only two POVs, they’re both 1st person, and seem to alternate every chapter. I never feel as immersed in those, and often have trouble keeping who’s who. Love the cover, btw.

The Queen of All Crows – by Rod Duncan

A TBR, one that I’m excited to get into. Sees Elizabeth traveling to America in search of… pirates? I haven’t read the Gas-Lit trilogy, so I’m missing some nuances. Among other things.

Up Next

Age of Legend – by Michael J. Sullivan

With Age of Death out anytime now, I need to catch up. Haven’t forgiven Sullivan for the ending to War yet, but it’s time to move on. …the bastard.

Anyone read any of these? Are they good? And what else SHOULD I be reading? Please let me know!

Additional TBR

  1. A Princess of Mars – by Edgar Rice Burroughs (Barsoom #1)
  2. Star Maker – by Olaf Stapledon
  3. Metro 2035 – by Dmitry Glukhovsky (Metro #3)
  4. Magebane – by Stephen Aryan (Age of Dread #3)

On Tap 09/28

Currently Reading

• The Buried Giant – by Kazuo Ishiguro

This week’s audiobook, very little to say so far about this classic-feeling fantasy. Something about an amnesiac binding, a few far-flung warriors, and mystery. Huh, hope it’s good!

• The Land You Never Leave – by Angus Watson

With Where the Gods Fear to Go coming out in December, it must be time to dive back into not-America with some oddity-Watson madness and one of the greatest character names of all time: Finnbogi the Boggy. Loved the first one, hope the 2nd continues to impress!

• A Time of Blood – by John Gwynne

After spending half the year on my TBR list, it’s finally time to continue the story of Drem, Riv and the rest of the Faithful in the Banished Lands. I loved the Faithful and the Fallen series, while A Time of Dread failed to measure up, I’m still excited!

Up Next

• An Easy Death – by Charlaine Harris

Gunnie Rose #1 pretty much popped up on my radar this last week. A thriller set in a post-apoc, fractured USA sounds pretty much like a win, and has me envisioning a better Darwin Elevator for some reason.

Additional TBR

  1. The Flames of Shadam Khoreh – by Bradley P. Beaulieu (Lays of Anuskaya #3)
  2. Sky in the Deep – by Adrienne Young (Sky in the Deep #1)
  3. Blade and Bone – by Jon Sprunk (Book #3 of the Black Earth)
  4. The Bone Ships – by R.J. Barker (Tide Child #1)

Reviewed Since Last

A Little Hatred – by Joe Abercrombie (Age of Madness #1)

Age of War – by Michael J. Sullivan (Legends of the First Empire #3)

Fallen – by Benedict Jacka (Alex Verus #10)

Limited Wish – by Mark Lawrence (Impossible Times #2)

To Do

Well, I still have some ARCs to get through, though I’m not buried in them lately. So I thought I’d try to make some tangible TBR progress. Still behind on reviews, too. And with the return of my part-time seasonal and Nanowrimo looming I might stay behind. But… we’ll see.

Is there anything I should have on my radar? Or has anyone read any of these listed? Let me know, please!

On Tap 09/13

Currently Reading

• The Dark Blood – by A.J. Smith

After the Black Guard, I raved about the world, but didn’t like the story. Now that we’re back for #2, I’m hoping the story will improve. And that I’ll love it. I AM sure the world-building will continue to impress, so… Fingers crossed!

• Fallen – by Benedict Jacka

The 10th of a planned 12 Alex Verus novels (if you didn’t know that, sorry to ruin it!). Things are really heating up in the story, finding Alex with a love interest, and more power than he ever wanted. #10 takes place one year later, finding Alex fighting to keep everything he holds dear. I can’t wait to get into it!

• Shadows of Self – by Brandon Sanderson

I’ve been rereading the Wax & Wayne books on audio (from my library fyi), and so far they’re just as good as the first time through. The reader (Michael Kramer—from Way of Kings and Eye of the World) is a good one, and everything’s still in Mistborn swing.

Up Next

• The Bone Ships – by R.J. Barker

This sounds like a cross between Marc Turner’s Dragon Hunters (which I loved) and John Gwynne’s Banished Lands (which I loved MORE). I put it off a little to finish A Little Hatred and Fallen on time, so I’m reeeeally anxious to start it now!

• In Shining Armor – by Elliott James

Been reading a lot of epic, high and dark fantasy lately, which means it’s time for more urban and scifi. Book 4 of the Pax Arcana looks like just the thing! Doesn’t look like we’ll get anything beyond #5 (as the author’s gone dark), though, so I hope the next two provide a good wrap-up.

To Do

I still have some reviews to get through, as I’ve a backlog from my vacation still. Also, there’s the release of a Q&A with Tyler Hayes, author of the Imaginary Corpse (find the review here!) on September 23. Maybe it’ll provide a little traffic, but I’m really just hoping that some of you find it interesting!

Reviewed since the Last (09/04)

The Forbidden Library – by Django Wexler (Forbidden Library #1)

Bloody Rose – by Nicholas Eames (The Band #2)

The Ember Blade – by Chris Wooding (Darkwater Legacy #1)

Additional TBR

  1. A Time of Blood – by John Gwynne (Of Blood & Bone #2)
  2. Metro 2035 – by Dmitry Glukhovsky (Metro series #3)
  3. Sky in the Deep – by Adrienne Young (Sky in the Deep #1)
  4. The Flames of Shadam Khoreh – by Bradley P. Beaulieu (Lays of Anuskaya #3)
  5. Street Freaks – by Terry Brooks

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.