Monday, May 22, 2017

REVIEW: Hitogotchi (game)

Hitogotchi is a short horror/romance visual novel created by OnionBlaze and ApplePaddle. It can be downloaded for free here.

This review includes a spoiler.

Review:
 
In this visual novel, you play as a monster who’s just gotten a new caretaker, a human named Nadine. You can ask Nadine to talk to you, play with you, feed you, or help you get to sleep - similar to the things required to take care of a Tamagotchi, which, according to the description, was part of the basis of this game. However, unlike a Tamagotchi pet, you have a real-world physical form, and there are serious consequences if Nadine doesn’t take good care of you.

Warning: everything on the screen moves a bit, even the choice buttons. I eventually decided that I liked the way this contributed to the game’s overall unsteady mood/atmosphere, but I wish there had been an option to turn this movement off. I was a little worried that focusing on constantly moving text might activate my motion sickness.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

REVIEW: Decision at Doona (book) by Anne McCaffrey

Decision at Doona is science fiction. It was originally published in 1969.

This review includes a slight spoiler.

Review:

I’ve read many of Anne McCaffrey’s books, but for some reason I never got around to her Doona books. This first one primarily stars Ken Reeve. Earth is enormously overcrowded, so Ken is excited to learn that Doona, a planet uninhabited by intelligent sentient beings, has been discovered and that he and his family have been picked to be some of the first colonists.

The “uninhabited by intelligent sentient beings” part is important. Two hundred years earlier, a botched first contact situation led to an entire alien species, the Siwannese, committing suicide. This led to the Non-Cohabitation Principle, which stated that humans could only colonize a planet if there was no evidence that intelligent beings already lived there. Doona seems perfect - until the human colonists come across a settlement of cat-like aliens known as Hrrubans.

Nobody wants to go back to overcrowded Earth, but the Non-Cohabitation Principle is serious business. Still, it isn’t as easy as just packing up and leaving. They need the bigwigs back on Earth to believe what they’ve seen and reported, they need a ship, and they need orders on how to conduct themselves until a ship can come pick them up. Meanwhile, the Hrrubans don’t seem to care about any of that and are just as determined to interact with the humans as the humans are to keep their interactions with the Hrrubans friendly but brief.

REVIEW: Redshirts (book) by John Scalzi

Redshirts is science fiction. My review includes a few slight spoilers, but they start off with a warning so they should be skippable. If you're worried, I'd suggest reading this review on Booklikes, Goodreads, or LibraryThing, where I'm able to use spoiler tags.

Review:

Redshirts stars Ensign Andrew Dahl, newly assigned to the starship Intrepid. It doesn’t take long for him to notice that something weird is going on. Everyone reacts strangely to any mention of away missions, and the Intrepid’s crew has a much higher than normal mortality rate. In an effort to avoid a dramatic and untimely death, Dahl works together with several other new crew members and discovers things that seem too impossible and bizarre to be true.

I went into this book expecting it to be a combination black comedy and Star Trek parody. It started off that way, but then it morphed into something that packed more of an emotional punch than I expected.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

REVIEW: Salamandastron (book) by Brian Jacques

Salamandastron is fantasy. Probably Middle Grade fantasy, although I've also seen it tagged as YA.

Review:

(I finished this a month ago and should have reviewed it back then, but I was more interested in diving into my next book than writing a review.)

Salamandastron follows multiple groups of characters whose paths eventually converge. The primary storyline starts at Salamandastron. Ferahgo, a blue-eyed assassin weasel, has set his sights on that place and is convinced that there is great treasure to be found there. He knows it’ll all belong to him if he and his band can manage to defeat Urthstripe, the great badger Lord, and his skilled warrior hares. Urthstripe, meanwhile, is distracted by family problems: Mara, his adopted daughter, has been growing increasingly rebellious and restless.

The secondary storyline starts at Redwall Abbey. Everything there is good food and celebrations, with occasional light punishments for scamps like Samkim the squirrel and his best friend Arula the molemaid, until a couple stoats accidentally do something horrible. Suddenly Samkim finds himself suspected of killing someone. As if that wasn’t bad enough, many of Redwall Abbey’s residents then fall ill with the dreaded Dryditch Fever.

REVIEW: Baccano!, Vol. 1: The Rolling Bootlegs (book) by Ryohgo Narita, illustrated by Katsumi Enami, translated by Taylor Engel

The Rolling Bootlegs is the first volume in the Baccano! light novel series, which spawned the Baccano! anime. I've written a couple reviews of the anime, the most recent one being this one.

Review:

In the year 2002, a Japanese man has won a trip to New York, and he’s having a terrible time. A bunch of teens mugged him and took his most prized possession, his camera. If he wants to get it back, he’ll have to talk to a member of the Camorra (an Italian crime syndicate). Luckily, the man he speaks to is in a good and talkative mood, and boy does he have a story to tell. It starts in 1711, when an alchemist and his comrades summoned a demon who gifted the alchemist with the knowledge of how to make the elixir of immortality, and continues to New York in 1930.

In 1930, a young man named Firo has just been promoted to executive in the Martillo Family, a Camorra group. At that very same time, two cheerful and energetic thieves named Isaac and Miria have just arrived in the city, determined to right their past wrongs by doing only good deeds. Of course, they have a rather odd notion of what constitutes a “good deed.” And at the same time as all of that, an immortal old man named Szilard is being driven to a meeting by Ennis, his artificially created human servant. Szilard has spent the centuries since he became immortal trying to determine the recipe for the elixir of immortality, and it looks like he might have finally achieved his goal. Unfortunately, a fire makes things more complicated, and the two surviving bottles of the perfected elixir go missing.

Ennis has to track the bottles down or risk getting killed by Szilard. Of course, they just happen to look like regular wine, it’s the Prohibition era, and there are two different Camorra groups, a couple idiot thieves, some thugs, and several FBI agents in the area, so her job isn’t going to be easy.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

REVIEW: The Course of Honour (e-book) by Avoliot

The Course of Honour is original m/m sci-fi romance posted on Archive of Our Own. It has a word count of 117,499.

Warning: one of the main characters was in an abusive relationship prior to the beginning of the book - mostly emotionally abusive, but a little physical.

Review:

The Course of Honour stars Prince Kiem of the planet Iskat and Count Jainan of the planet Thea. Five years ago, the Theans sent Jainan to marry Iskat’s Prince Taam in order to secure an alliance. A month before the start of the book, Taam was killed in a flybug (personal aircraft) accident. Kiem learns to his horror that, according to the terms of the treaty, Jainan must remarry and he’s been chosen to be Jainan’s next partner. Jainan’s certainly attractive, but Kiem has never even spoken to him before. Plus, Kiem figures he’s probably still grieving. Not that he and Jainan have any say in the matter - the marriage is scheduled to happen tomorrow.

Right from the start, their marriage is complicated by assumptions and secrets. Jainan and Taam’s marriage wasn’t nearly as solid as they’d led everyone to believe, and Jainan is sure he’s in for more of the same from Kiem. Kiem, meanwhile, just wants to make things as easy as possible for Jainan.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

REVIEW: Star Surgeon (book) by James White

Star Surgeon is medical science fiction, the second book and first full novel in the Sector General series. I picked up a used copy during a particularly successful used book shopping trip.

Review:

Star Surgeon starts off with Conway treating an alien of a sort he’s never seen or heard of before. It turns out that his newest patient’s species is seen as somewhat godlike by those aliens that know of them. They’re purported to be immortal, and they have a habit of gradually making themselves the supreme ruler of a world, solving its problems (I was left with so many questions), and then leaving. They are always accompanied by a companion of a different species.

Conway’s efforts to treat his patient, Lonvellin, impress it so much that it later insists he help it and the Monitor Corps with a problem it’s having on the planet Etla, which is part of a larger Empire made up of several planets. Etla used to have a thriving population before it was hit by one horrible illness after another. To make matters worse, Etla’s natives are deeply suspicious of beings that look different from them, so they refuse to accept help from anyone except the Empire’s Imperial Representative, who rarely stops by. Earth humans and Etlans just happen to look very much alike, so Conway and the Monitor Corpsmen are able to sneak in, assess the situation, and try to help. Unfortunately, the situation is much worse than anyone realizes and deteriorates to such a degree that Sector General finds itself caught up in an interstellar war.

REVIEW: Against the Paw (book) by Diane Kelly

Against the Paw is supposedly a cozy mystery. To me, it felt more like a light police procedural.

Review:

This was an impulse buy. I saw it at the grocery store and was immediately drawn in by the dog on the cover. Even though I knew it wasn’t the first book in the series, it sounded like something a newbie should be able to jump into fairly easily.

Against the Paw is set in Fort Worth, Texas and stars police officer Megan Luz. Megan used to be partnered with Derek Mackey until he made one crude and sexist comment too many and she tased him. Megan was assigned a K-9 partner named Brigit, and Derek’s job was saved by his friendship with the chief of police. In this entry in the series, Megan and Brigit are investigating reports of a peeping tom at Berkeley Place. There’s a possibility these incidents may be connected to Ralph Hurley, a parolee who recently cut off his ankle monitor.

I'm playing a reading game

I'm currently involved in a reading game that's taking place on Booklikes. Moonlight Reader, another Booklikes user, developed the game (along with another user, I think?). Most of the rules can be found here, although alterations and clarifications have been posted in this discussion group.

So far, it's been a lot of fun. I've finished three books for the game and have brought my total gameplay money up to $28. One of the books I read had been sitting in my TBR for almost two decades. The one thing that has suffered: my review writing. I've written almost no reviews since beginning the game.

I think Moonlight Reader set the game's end date for sometime in June or July, but I'm hoping there are plans to do a second round. The different spots on the game board have been forcing me to look at my book collection in an entirely new way, and I've really enjoyed that aspect.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

REVIEW: Robo-Tea: Misten Minicups (game)

Robo-Tea: Misten Minicups is a free/pay-what-you-want visual novel, available here. I don't know that it really matters much, but I'd probably recommend playing Robo-Tea: 1 Cup first, just to get a bit more information about the setting and a brief glimpse of Cors (who, in that game, is a minor character who briefly appears at the end of one of the routes).

Review:

I decided I could use a bit of cute robot time, so I debated between my remaining Robo-Tea games and decided on Robo-Tea: Misten Minicups. According to the description, its events happen at the same time as Robo-Tea: 2ndServing (which is currently only available in demo form, although the full game is supposed to be out sometime soon).

In Robo-Tea: Misten Minicups, you are Mitra (the blue robot). You’re in a band called Misten, which is going to be performing at MusiFest 59 soon. You’re in a happy polyamorous relationship with your two other bandmates, Alren (the red robot, pronouns: he/him) and Twinst (the green robot, pronouns: she/her). One thing the three of you would really like to do while you’re visiting the planet Verdande is see your crush, Cors (pronouns: xe/xir), for the first time in a little over a century and give xir a gift.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

REVIEW: Robo-Tea: 1 Cup! (game)

Robo-Tea: 1 Cup! is a short free/pay-what-you-want visual novel, available here.

Review:

Robo-Tea: 1 Cup! is a cute little dating sim. You play as Galine, aka “Gal,” a guardbot at a SpacePort on the planet Verdande. At the start of the story, Gal is in the breakroom at work, having a snack and fantasizing about being somewhere more exciting. Vals, Gal’s supervisor (I think?), asks Gal to watch over a bot who was recently picked up from a damaged ship. The bot, Revek, is scheduled to be shipped back to their home. Your choices determine whether Gal goes out on a date with Vals, spends time with Revek, or does something else entirely.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

REVIEW: K: Missing Kings (anime movie)

K: Missing Kings is one of the many entries in the K franchise and is, I think, the direct sequel to Season 1 of the K anime.

Review:

If you’d like to watch this but haven’t seen Season 1 of the K anime yet, stop what you’re doing and go watch that first, because this movie isn’t going to make any sense to you otherwise. Characters briefly mention events that happened in the past, but no one bothers to explain things in any depth.

All right, so K: Missing Kings takes place about a year after the events of Season 1 of the anime. Scepter 4 is still acting as sort of the police force of the various clans, and they rush to the Gold Clan’s main building after hearing reports of an attack. Green Clan members are trying to locate Yashiro for some reason and are attempting to do so with Gold Clan’s resources (I think - honestly, Green Clan’s plan was a little confusing).

The Green Clan is also trying to get Anna from HOMRA to help them, but her powers have been unstable for a while. No matter - the Green Clan attempts to kidnap her anyway. Kuroh and Neko, Silver Clan members who have been trying to locate their King, Yashiro, since after the events of the anime, join forces with the few remaining members of HOMRA in an effort to protect Anna.

Friday, March 17, 2017

REVIEW: Daughter of Mystery (e-book) by Heather Rose Jones

Daughter of Mystery is f/f historical fantasy.

Review:

Daughter of Mystery is set in the fictional European country of Alpennia, sometime in the early 19th century. Chapters alternate between Barbara’s perspective and Margerit’s. Barbara knows she’s of noble birth but has no idea who her parents are. Her father lost everything due to his gambling debts and sold her to Baron Seveze when she was only a baby. She is now the baron’s armin (formal bodyguard/duelist).

Margerit Sovitre is the baron’s goddaughter, although he generally hasn’t been in her life much. Margerit is an orphan who was taken in by her aunt and uncle. She has no interest in attending balls or getting married, but that’s the direction in which her life seems to be going, until Baron Seveze dies and everyone learns to their shock that he has left her his entire fortune. He also left her Barbara, despite his promise to free her, and made it so that Margerit cannot free her before she (Margerit) comes of age without most of the baron’s fortune going to the Convent of Saint Orisul instead. Margerit is willing to do this, but her uncle, who still controls her life, isn’t willing to let her. However, Margerit’s efforts win her Barbara’s loyalty. With Barbara at her side, Margerit pursues her heart’s desire: studying philosophy and theology at the university in Rotenek. Meanwhile, Barbara digs into the mystery of her own past.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

REVIEW: The Tale of the Dueling Neurosurgeons: And Other True Stories of Trauma, Madness, Affliction, and Recovery That Reveal the Surprising History of the Human Brain (audiobook) by Sam Kean, narrated by Henry Leyva

The Tale of the Dueling Neurosurgeons is nonfiction and was one of my library checkouts. My library has it via Overdrive.

Review:

This is going to be short, because I never really bother to take notes while listening to audiobooks, and I finished this audiobook almost three weeks ago. I had to look up nearly all of the names used in this review.

This book used specific examples and case studies of individuals with brain injuries to explain how the brain works. The examples included people I’d heard of before, like Phineas Gage and his iron rod, and people I had not, like Daniel Carleton Gajdusek and his work on kuru (and his conviction for child molestation, holy crap). The author included a wide variety of examples, although at times I felt that his choices were a little U.S.-centric. At least two examples involved U.S. presidents.

REVIEW: The Caves of Steel (book) by Isaac Asimov

The Caves of Steel is a sci-fi mystery. I got it via interlibrary loan.

Review:

A while back, Audible did this thing that I think they called “blind date with an audiobook” or something like that. I got matched up with Isaac Asimov’s The Caves of Steel. I opted not to buy the audiobook, but the idea of a sci-fi mystery starring a human cop and a robot partner intrigued me, so I requested it via ILL.

The Caves of Steel is set in a future where the Earth’s population has reached the point where people must either live efficiently or die. Everyone lives in great steel-enclosed Cities, eats together in communal kitchens, and uses communal bathrooms, and only robots go out into the open air. Elijah “Lije” Baley, a New York City police detective, is well aware of the kind of life he could have had if his father hadn’t been declassified. He’s also well aware that his job will continue to exist only for as long as he is able to prove that robots can’t do it better, so it’s with significant wariness and distaste that he agrees to work with a Spacer robot on a murder case.

The victim is a Spacer named Roj Nemennuh Sarton. Tensions between Earth humans and Spacers, humans who long since left Earth for other planets but still maintain a small Earth presence, are already high, and this murder threatens to push things to a breaking point. The Spacers believe that one of the City humans killed Dr. Sarton. Although they could insist on their own investigation, they agree to let the New York City police handle it, on the condition that the robot Daneel Olivaw, Dr. Sarton’s creation, be included.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...