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!

Book Loot – April Edition

Went a little rogue this month after the library’s online catalogue got a little bit hammered, and I got a wee bit of stir-crazy burnout going. With a staggering amount of delays and postponements, I may actually get to most of my ARCs in time for release. If I recover from the burnout, that is. And since I’m off til at least May—and likely longer since large gatherings of children probably won’t be well-received for a while—this seems unlikely, at best. But whatever.

ARCs for May

Firewalkers – by Adrian Tchaikovsky (5/12)

Many thanks to Rebellion for the ARC! I can only hope this is as good as Walking to Aldebaran last year. With Tchaikovsky, it’s easy to just assume so and go from there. […]

The Bayern Agenda – by Dan Moren

While technically not an ARC, the good people at Angry Robot had provided me with the second book of the series but upon hearing I hadn’t yet read the first, were kind enough to throw that in as well! As usual, many thanks to them! The Bayern Agenda features a futuristic cold war, a compromised team, and a benched agent that must come through in the clutch.

The Aleph Extraction – by Dan Moren (5/12)

Still reeling from the events of the first book, the team is sent out on another improbable mission: to steal an alien artifact from a crime lord before their cold war rivals get to it first. Sounds like a good thriller, hopefully the first one will inspire me to read them back-to-back! Once again many thanks to Angry Robot for the ARC!

Purchases

To Be Taught, If Fortunate – by Becky Chambers

One of my top TBR for 2020, TBT,IF combines terraforming with post-humanizing to create, well, something in between but new altogether! I’ve heard mixed things about this one, but’ve wanted to read it since its release, so here we are. Both this and Where Gods Fear to Go narrowly escaped the UK before to stopped shipping out and I’m thrilled to have them!

Where Gods Fear to Go – by Angus Watson

The exciting conclusion to the West of West trilogy finds the combined forces of mostly good and somewhat good nearly upon their destination of the Meadows. But, between them and their destinies lie the Shining Mountains—seeming endless and uncrossable mountains populated by telekinetic sasquatches. Yeah, you read that right.

Age of Empyre – by Michael J. Sullivan

The final entry in the Legends of the First Empire series is nigh! And as each of the previous two has ended in a cliffhanger, I can hardly wait to read this! Suri holds the key to the world. Or does she? And if humanity can’t rescue her, will there be anything left worth saving?

Audio

Skyward – by Brandon Sanderson

What promises to be my… 18th? Sanderson book, Skyward is a YA Scifi series about a defeated human race in a constant battle for their survival against an alien threat. While I won’t catch up to most of the planet in number of Sanderson books read with this series, it will still put me roughly… 18 ahead of Tammy.

Arlo Finch in the Kingdom of Shadows – by John August

The third Arlo Finch book wasn’t quite as good as the first two, but still worth a go. While brining his father home through the Long Woods may have seemed like a good idea, Arlo quickly discovers it’s much more complicated than just that. There are many changes in this entry, and much to discuss. Review soon.

Retribution Falls – by Chris Wooding

While I loved the Ember Blade when I read it last year, Wooding’s been on my TBR for years before that. This steampunk action-adventure follows the Ketty Jay and her captain, Frey, as he somehow goes from nuisance pirate to public enemy #1 in an afternoon.

The Society of the Sword Trilogy – by Duncan M. Hamilton

Long on my TBR, the Tattered Banner begins the Society of the Sword trilogy—which just happened to be on sale this week. And since I figured a trilogy such as this was probably worth $5 (hoping, at least), and since I have some time—thought it was time to give it a go. In a world where magic is outlawed, ability with a sword can accomplish all one’s dreams. Soren wears his on his sleeve, and when he is chosen to join the illustrious Society, it’s the answer to his prayers. But like most opportune fortune, this may prove to be more than meets the eye…

Free Stuff!

Forsworn – by Brian McClellan

I’ve actually read a decent portion of Forsworn already—in pieces—but Brian McClellan has helpfully offered up a free copy to anyone adversely affected by COVID, and for once that didn’t feel terrible about taking him up on that. Technically, both the collection of short stories (which I already have) and the collected novellas (which I’ve read 3 or 4) are free to download, I only needed the one to complete my collection. If you or anyone you know has been hurt by the virus or the lockdown, send them over HERE to collect some free books. Many, many thanks to Brian McClellan for the reading material!

In the Village Where Brightwine Flows, A Wasteland of My God’s Own Making & The Doors at Dusk and Dawn – by Bradley P. Beaulieu

I’ve mentioned it before, but Bradley Beaulieu is giving away Shattered Sands novellas on his site every Monday during lockdown, and it’s given me a chance to catch up on the ones I had missed. While I’ve only just started Brightwine, all promise to be unique glimpses into the Shangazi, with interesting tidbits of lore attached. If you haven’t read any, nor picked up A Wastle of God’s Own Making this week, I’d recommend them. Many thanks to Bradley Beaulieu, just one of many authors being amazingly generous with their work so that we all make it through this in one piece.

Tales of Beedle the Bard – by J.K. Rowling

An audio freebie, Tales of Beedle the Bard are a sort of wizarding faerie tales alluded to in Harry Potter. If you don’t know what I mean, read Harry Potter. If you’ve read it already, you should know what this is. If you don’t and don’t want to, you’ve already mentally checked out of this and I’m just rambling at this point so it doesn’t matter what I say and I’m hungry and tired and bored but whatever.

Gaming

Finished AC: Odyssey this week. Took me 135 hours but I platinumed the main game—even did a little DLC as well. Now I have all this free time, and all these audiobooks to get through! Whatever shall I do??

Get more games, of course!

I picked up the Metro Exodus Season Pass at discount to play Sam’s Story, something I’ve been excited about ever since I first heard they were working on it. You play as Sam as he battles his way across Russia with the hope of finally returning home. If you don’t know what I’m talking about maybe give the Metro 2033 a try? Either the book or the game, really. Or just humor me: nod and smile. While the first two games (and three books) were set in the confines of the Moscow Metro tunnels, Exodus gives you the ability to actually traverse the wartorn world. Exodus got generally positive reviews, but drew a mixed bag from existing fans. I quite enjoyed it, though the open world and non-linearity meant a less immerse game world, and detracted from the overall horror experience. But since I find horror boring and the game was beautiful AND fun… Well. You also get the Two Colonels, which I’ve heard mixed things about, but hey, can’t be too bad, right?

So… a lot to keep occupied this month. Hopefully it works! I’m skeptical that the world will get back to “normal” anytime soon, but maybe it’ll prove me wrong. In the news, people continue to be stubborn idiots—which is why I don’t watch the news. I still don’t (think I) have the virus and I hope y’all are safe too! There’s a lot going on in the world lately and I hope you lot know I appreciate you and what this outlet means to me. So, if you’ve read or played or listened to or heard of any of the preceding and would like to talk about them, let me know! If you want to talk books or add me on playstation drop me an email or a comment. Otherwise, thanks for stopping by and thanks for looking out!

Also: allergies. Anyone else got them? I was kinda hoping that they’d be less awful this year, but I appear to be SOL.

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.