Thursday, February 22, 2018

Deanna Plays: TellTale Games Are Accessible AND Insanely Fun!


Deanna Plays is a monthly feature on this blog where every third Thursday of the month I talk about something related to video games. Sometimes these are reviews of the games themselves, sometimes it's a list of books to read if you play X, and anything in between!

This month I want to talk about TellTale Games and how I think they put out really fun interactive story games that are accessible to any type of gamer.

I have to admit that I wasn't really a fan of TellTale at first. I first found out about them when my boyfriend got the Walking Dead game they have (I think it was free with Xbox Gold), but I didn't think I was that interested in a "point and click" game. I didn't really give it a chance until a couple of months ago when Tales From The Borderlands was free with Gold, so we both got it, and man did they prove me wrong! The game was pretty fun. I ended up buying the Game of Thrones and The Guardians of The Galaxy games they also have. I feel like I made ALL the wrong choice in the GOT game but I had a ton of fun with The Guardians game. Fun fact about the GOT game when you die the screen that comes up doesn't say "Game Over" it says "Valar Morghulis". I laughed really hard the first time that came up.

These game are basically like an interactive story or rather a choose your own adventure, since the game changes as you make decisions in it. I like that because it makes it feel more personal and it also adds replay value to the game. If you like a good story to a video game these are great to play when you need a break from something else. 

These games are really accessible to any type of gamer, even someone that hasn't picked up a controller in many years. The mechanics of the game are pretty simple. You walk around and talk to people and the screen shows you which buttons you are supposed to push to choose what you want to say. In combat the game also shows you which buttons to push and if you don't do it right you mostly likely die!  It can be a little stressful, but I think it definitely makes you get into the game more. I have a friend, whose a seasoned gamer, and he said he doesn't like the gameplay mechanics, but they don't bother me at all. The purpose of these games are more story-based rather than proving your prowess at getting a kill shot.

I'm slowly becoming addicted to these story-based games! I really enjoy them especially if I am getting stuck on a part on another game I am in the middle of playing.

Have you played any of these story-based games from TellTale? What do you think about them? Which game is your favorite?

Happy Reads Everyone!
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Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Audiobook Review: The Magicians by Lev Grossman

The Magicians By Lev Grossman
Publisher: Books on Tape
Release Date: August 11, 2009
Format: Audiobook narrated by Mark Bramhall
Source: Library via Libby App
My Rating: 


Goodreads ★ Amazon ★ B&N ★ TBD

Quentin Coldwater is brilliant but miserable. A senior in high school, he’s still secretly preoccupied with a series of fantasy novels he read as a child, set in a magical land called Fillory. Imagine his surprise when he finds himself unexpectedly admitted to a very secret, very exclusive college of magic in upstate New York, where he receives a thorough and rigorous education in the craft of modern sorcery.

He also discovers all the other things people learn in college: friendship, love, sex, booze, and boredom. Something is missing, though. Magic doesn’t bring Quentin the happiness and adventure he dreamed it would. After graduation he and his friends make a stunning discovery: Fillory is real. But the land of Quentin’s fantasies turns out to be much darker and more dangerous than he could have imagined. His childhood dream becomes a nightmare with a shocking truth at its heart.

At once psychologically piercing and magnificently absorbing, THE MAGICIANS boldly moves into uncharted literary territory, imagining magic as practiced by real people, with their capricious desires and volatile emotions. Lev Grossman creates an utterly original world in which good and evil aren’t black and white, love and sex aren’t simple or innocent, and power comes at a terrible price.
A lot of the reviews I read about this book called it "Harry Potter for Adults" and thought it was a little too much of a ripoff of The Chronicles of Narnia. Now I would not disagree with them and I think those are some really valid points. At the same time going to magic college and finding a new world in the form of Fillory was what kept my interest in this novel.

This is a book that I just mildly endured the main character because the plot was what kept me interested. I really didn't like Quentin. It seemed like he objectified every woman he came in contact with, and it got to a point that I just couldn't stand him anymore. I thought at one point he was having some changes and his character was developing, but then he just had to go do stupid things. And then later he was being so petty about said thing, I found it so irritating. Honestly, I found Elliot to be more interesting and fun that I would rather him narrate this novel or Alice. Alice was a hidden BAMF in this book. I wish Quentin wasn't so mean to her. I'm tiptoeing around what Quentin does that annoyed me because I think it's a big spoiler, but I think he just not a good person and he's a bad friend. So it's really hard to give this book more than 3 stars, because the main character just was so depressing and "woe is me" the entire novel.

I do think that this novel was a touch too long. I think the book focused way too much on the 5-year schooling program and went through way too much on that. The pacing could have been better, especially since the more important stuff comes at the tail-end of the novel after Quentin and his friends have graduated from Breakbills.

I think if I read this normally maybe I would have put this one down (or maybe not because you all know how bad I am at DNFing books). I liked the narrator, and I was glad he didn't try to overdo the female characters voices, but I do have a beef with him. He over pronounces the word "white" or any other word with the same "wh" sound. Normally these sorts of things don't really get into my head with audiobooks, but there were so many instance of these "wh" sounds in this book that it started to drive me crazy!

This book was okay, but I think it mostly acts as an introduction. I think I would have liked it better if Quentin wasn't so down in the dumps all the time. I started watching the TV adaption and it seems a lot different already. I kind of like it better, which is a weird thing to say as a reader. I am listening to the second book already and I find the plot of that one more interesting. Q is still annoying, but I think I'll still finish this series.

Have you read this book? What do you think?

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Sunday, February 18, 2018

ARC Review: Prime Meridian By Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Prime Meridian By Silvia Moreno-Garcia
Publisher: Innsmouth Free Press
Release Date: July 10th, 2018
Format: egalley
Source: Netgalley*
My Rating: 


Goodreads ★ Amazon ★ B&N ★ TBD


Amelia dreams of Mars. The Mars of the movies and the imagination, an endless bastion of opportunities for a colonist with some guts. But she’s trapped in Mexico City, enduring the drudgery of an unkind metropolis, working as a rent-a-friend, selling her blood to old folks with money who hope to rejuvenate themselves with it, enacting a fractured love story. And yet there’s Mars, at the edge of the silver screen, of life. It awaits her.

Note: official publication date is December 2017 but only for IndieGoGo backers. Wide release for everyone else on July 2018
Just a quick note, this book is technically already out if you were one of the backers for the author's IndieGoGo, if not this one does not come out until this summer. I was lucky to receive a copy from Netgalley in exchange for my honest review.

Silvia Moreno-Garcia is becoming a fast favorite author of mine. I like that she writes about younger adults (mid-20s to older) so it makes it easier for me, a 27-year-old, to relate to her characters. I like that with Amelia she writes a really lost character that just doesn't know where to go with her life. I think that is natural to feel that way, but I think our society tells us that we are supposed to have our whole life figured out. Amelia is also kind of cold and unlikeable, which I find interesting. The text in this novella even has a conversation between her and another character about how, "some people are just not meant to be liked." I find this concept to be really interesting.

I have to admit that this novella was just not what I was expecting. I do think since it deals with how technology affects society it should still be counted as a Sci-Fi book, but we never actually see Mars in the story. I think that is kind of the point. In the story, Amelia finds work on an app called Frendrr and has frequent booking with an old actress named Lucia. Lucia says to Amelia, "There are only two plots...A person goes on a journey and a stranger comes into town." This book isn't about Amelia's life on Mars, this is about her journey to get there. 

Moreno-Garcia has this incredible knack for just painting the setting inside my head with her words. Like Signal to Noise, I felt like I could really see the city that Amelia lives it. You could really feel the bleakness of the world and the subtle way in how it has turned into a dystopia. It's very slight with just a few sentences here and there to show the economic depression and how everyone is struggling to survive. I like a good near-future story that is just close enough to current day. It makes it feel more real and believable. 

I think if you liked Moreno-Garcia's other books you would enjoy this one. Since it's a novella it's also shorter and a quicker read to get through. 

*I received a free egalley copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Happy Reads Everyone!
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Friday, February 16, 2018

ARC Review: A Guide for Murdered Children By Sarah Sparrow

A Guide for Murdered Children by Sarah Sparrow
Publisher: Blue Rider Press
Release Date: March 20th, 2018
Format: egalley
Source: Netgalley*
My Rating: 
1/2

Goodreads ★ Amazon ★ B&N ★ TBD

We all say there is no justice in this world. But what if there really was? What if the souls of murdered children were able to return briefly to this world, inhabit adult bodies and wreak ultimate revenge on the monsters who had killed them, stolen their lives?

Such is the unfathomable mystery confronting ex-NYPD detective Willow Wylde, fresh out of rehab and finally able to find a job running a Cold Case squad in suburban Detroit. When the two rookie cops assigned to him take an obsessive interest in a decades old disappearance of a brother and sister, Willow begins to suspect something out of the ordinary is afoot. And when he uncovers a series of church basement AA-type meetings made up of the slain innocents, a new way of looking at life, death, murder and missed opportunities is revealed to him.

Mystical, harrowing and ultimately tremendously moving, A Guide for Murdered Children is a genre-busting, mind-bending twist on the fine line between the ordinary and the extraordinary.
 
This is a book that was just not for me. I also think this is the book that made me realize that I should just DNF books instead of forcing myself to read things I don’t enjoy. I hate when I dislike a book and writing negative book reviews is not something I like to do. I also would like to preface this review with the fact that I received an early advanced reader’s copy from Netgalley in exchange for my honest review back in August. I put it in the back of my piles in the fall due to the pub date not being until March, and then when I picked it back up in December I just couldn’t get into. So unfortunately, for me, this book was a huge miss.

I love true crime and I love weird scifi/fantasy things so when I read the summary of this book I thought I would love it! But, I have a really hard time with books when I don’t connect with the main character. Willow, our ex-cop addict “hero” could not have been more unlikeable if Sparrow tried. I could not stand him and I wondered if we as readers were supposed to like this guy. It was a little unclear. I can forgive a lot in books if I really connect with a character, but with this book I just couldn’t stand Willow and some of the thoughts that pop into his head. There’s a line in the book where he is staying in his daughter’s attic after his stint it rehab and he says, “He was feeling like Anne Frank up there.” Granted I read an advanced reader copy, so maybe a wise editor cut this out in the final, but that line really bothered me! It wasn’t the first or last instance of some random throw away line that I found offensive. Much earlier in the book the “R” word was used to describe a mentally challenged child, which I really do not like. Later in the book when Willow is talking with one of his friends from rehab he says, “She was a dyke but he’d know many in his time who experienced the phenomenon of SDC—Sudden Dick Craving” WTF!!There are a lot of things about Willow that just really rubbed me the wrong way.

The plot of this novel is interesting but I think the execution makes it flawed. The concept that murdered children get a second-chance at life so they can hunt down their killers and bring them to justice is interesting, but it’s never explained how this works. The characters themselves even talk in circles about how they don’t know how they are supposed to reach their “moment of balance”. The Guides they are given essentially say, “don’t ask questions, just trust” and it makes it feels like that is what the author is asking readers to do too. I was also uncomfortable with the idea that children are in adult bodies and some are still being intimate with partners. That just put a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach.

I decided to finish this novel because once they got into investigating the murder of Maya and Troy Rummer that was interesting to me, and I wanted to see if they would figure it out and bring their killer to justice. But that happened about 40% into the book, so I feel like there was a ton that could have been cut out of this story. When you do find out the killer, he seems to go on this really clique waxing poetic soliloquy, it was almost cartoonish to the point that I had lost my faith in the writing. There was a lot that could have been cut off, even a lot of the stuff with Honeychile. She seems really build up as an important main character and she is for a while, but at the end her character just seemed flat to me.

I really did not enjoy reading this book. I think the concept was interesting, but overall the execution just fell very flat. I wonder if a lot of the things I mentioned had been ironed out in a later draft. I would be interested to hear how other people feel about this one.

*I received a free egalley copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Happy Reads Everyone!
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Monday, February 12, 2018

Deanna Listens: Fauxthentic History

Deanna Listens is a monthly feature on the first Monday of every month, which I FORGOT to do again this month, I created to showcase some of my favorite podcasts. Today I am talking about a little podcast I love called Fauxthentic History.

Fauxthentic History is hosted by Holly Frey (Stuff you Missed in History, Full of Sith) and Bryan Young (Full of Sith). This podcast is a fun one because they talk about fictional history of different pop culture, nerdom, etc. So you know a lot of Star Wars, Star Trek, Princess Bride and anything in between is going to be covered. I love this podcast because it's just a fun one to listen to. The episodes are also pretty short, so they are easier to just binge listen to a ton, which I do.

So I want to pull out a few of my favorite episodes so far and to really show what type of content they put out on this podcast:


They also have like the best logo! I love it!


For this podcast to work they pull any information they can on the subject they are talking about. So source materials could be comics, book or movies, but they really don't fabricate anything that they talk about on this podcast. It all comes from whatever source material is available. In regards to Star Wars Legends VS. Canon books, they do mention that there are some legends that say "this." I think it's a cool way to handle it. 

This is a fun podcast and if you like to learn more about the lore of your favorite fandoms, I really suggest to give this one a listen!


Happy Reads Everyone!
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Saturday, February 10, 2018

Bookish Thoughts: Why Can't I DNF Books?!?


I haven't done a Bookish Thoughts post in such a long time, so I decided to finally update my graphic! I'm pretty glad I went and bought art off of Etsy for this blog, because I'm really happy with all the graphics I've been able to create for this blog. Anyway, enough about that, today on Bookish Thoughts, I want to talk about a bookish struggle I have -- DNFing books!

I just can't do it! 

I really want to learn when to just stop reading a book and read something I enjoy instead of just suffering for months trying to finish terrible books. I think I'm better at DNFing books if it's something I bought myself or something I borrowed from the library, but when it comes to books for review that I get from publishers, authors themselves, or Netgalley I just can't seem to find a way to just give up on it. I feel like since I am getting these from different sources free of charge that I feel like I HAVE to finish it and review it in it's entirely, but I think it's also really driving me away from reading.

I have a book right now from Netgalley that I got in August, but it went to the back of my queue because it doesn't pub until March. It might be the worst thing I have ever read. I just don't know if I can finish this. There is a kernel of a good story there, but it's muddled by other things, and I just generally hate the main character so that makes it hard for me to press on. I'm about 40% in and the crux of the story of solving this cold case is just starting up, so I want to learn about that, but I feel like the whole beginning of the book could have been cut. I'm in a weird position, where I think "Do I suffer some more and just finish this?" or "Do I just write the publisher a note that I can't finish it and write a review from what I already read?" I'm finally starting to get interested in the story, so I think I'm just going to force myself to finish it, but I just want to read so many other books instead!

The struggle is so real when it comes to forcing myself to finish books that I don't like. I have no problem just returning an audiobook when I hate the narrator, so why do I force myself to finish bad books?

Does anyone else have this problem? How do you cope with bad books, do you just DNF them? HOW? TELL ME YOUR SECRETS!!

Happy Reads Everyone!
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Friday, February 9, 2018

ARC Review: Titan's Wrath by Rhett C. Bruno

Titan's Wrath By Rhett C. Bruno
Publisher: Aethon Books
Release Date: December 10th, 2017
Format: Kindle ebook
Source: ARC provided by Author for review*
My Rating: ★★ 1/2


Goodreads ★ Amazon ★ 



Two men are caught on both sides of a violent, off-world rebellion in this standalone, Science Fiction epic set in Rhett C. Bruno's bestselling Titanborn Universe.

After inciting rebellion against Earth throughout Titan's off-world colonies, Kale Trass learns that leadership isn’t only about fighting. Keeping control of his people--even his own family--requires a different set of skills. Following a pivotal battle over Saturn, Kale travels deep into enemy territory under the guise of seeking peace, though peace is the last thing on his mind.

Malcolm Graves used to be an infamous Collector for a powerful Earther corporation--and then he nearly lost his life on Titan. Now he’s retired. But when Kale’s wake of destruction follows Malcolm to Mars and claims the life of a friend, it's time for the ex-Collector to dust off his pulse-pistol and leap back into a fight he thought he’d left behind.

With the solar system divided, heroes are few and short-lived ... but someone has to put the self-proclaimed King Trass of Titan in his place.
 

Titan's Wrath is the third and I think final book in Rhett C. Bruno's Titanborn Universe. I liked the first book Titanborn a good amount, and I still liked the second one From Ice to Ashes, but I struggled with this third book. I spent a lot of time debating on what star rating to give it. I went back and forth on if it should be a 3 star rating or not, but I eventually decided on 2 1/2 because I found that in the end I spent a good amount of time just not enjoying the story in this one. 

I want to emphasize that this story just didn't work for me, and one of the reasons is the character development. I still really loved the character of Malcolm. I love morally grey characters that just go where the credits are. I just HATED Kale! He just felt like a completely different character from the one in From Ice to Ashes. I understand that he is fighting years of oppression and he wants his people to survive, but as the novel progresses he starts lashing out at anyone that disagrees with him. I was really NOT happy with how he starts treating Aria in this novel. Even Maya starts to realize that she created a monster. It's because of how drastically he becomes the villain in this novel that when he doesn't double down on what he is doing and rather has a redemption arc I just didn't find it realistic at all. 

Kale is just one character, so it shouldn't have really bothered me that much, right? Except the majority of this novel is based on the Titanborn trying to take back their planet, and Kale leading them. I know we are not supposed to like him in this book and it's a message that in order to fight oppressive forces you have to be better than them. It's a lesson Kale learns too late. You spend a lot of time with Kale that I just couldn't stand him and had to put this book down a few times before I could finish it.

Aria kinda felt like she was just there and was a little two-dimensional. I couldn't understand WHAT she saw in Kale. If you didn't get the gist here, I really did not like Kale in this one. She was used as leverage a lot on this book, and that really bothered me. I did like that there were a lot of women in power in this book, and they all had different motivations, but I just felt disappointed by Aria. She felt like she was written flat in this one and I wanted to see more of depth to her.

The world that Bruno has built in this not-so-distant future is great! I think it's a pretty realistic take on where our future could be. I like his writing style too.  I wanted to like this one so much more, but it just didn't work for me.

Have you read Titan's Wrath? What did you think?

*I received a copy of an ARC provided by the author in exchange for my honest review. This in no way reflects my opinion on the book. 

Happy Reads Everyone!
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Saturday, February 3, 2018

January Wrap Up


Another month has gone by, and it's another month where I haven't been that active on the blog! FOR SHAME! January is a seriously busy month at work, and we are going through a re-organization so things have been nuts. So I haven't been reading much and just come home and melt my brain with TV instead. I'm hoping in February to get some more reading and reviewing done.

DEANNA LISTENS

For Deanna Listens this month I talked about Legends Library, a Star Wars podcast that focuses on the books in the old expanded universe, now called Legends. 

DEANNA PLAYS


For my video game feature, Deanna Plays this month I talked about a puzzle game I really enjoyed called Unravel. I also talked at length about how it uses music to push along the story. It almost acts as a secondary character in the game.

ONE WITH THE FORCE


I had one installment of my Star Wars feature -- One With The Force in January. I talked about how angry I am with what happened to Padmé in the Prequel movies. She didn't deserve what happened to her.

BOOKS I REVIEWED





FROM THE BLOGOSPHERE


What books did you read & review in January?


Happy Reads Everyone!
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