End-of-year trip East reading and gaming

Boston has been about seventy degrees for Christmas. This is all highly anomalous and the house I stayed at was been stuffy and warm. I’ve gotten some reading done and some gaming and plenty of knitting.

The reading’s pretty all over the place:

  • Sidney Halston’s Laid Out, contemporary romance
  • Frostbound by Sharon Ashwood, paranormal romance
  • NK Jemisin’s The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, fantasy
  • Clockwork Samurai by Jeannie Lin, alternate history
  • Quantum Devil Saga: Avatar Tuner by Yu Godai, science fiction
  • Sweet Ruin by Kresley Cole, paranormal romance

I haven’t the wherewithal for full reviews of all of these, but I’ll make a few comments. I enjoyed Laid Out, but I wanted to punch everyone involved because they were too-human idiots. Believable flaws, but our protagonists are going to need to work hard for their future. Survivor’s guilt doesn’t just resolve in three months.

Frostbound wraps up, for now, Sharon Ashwood’s intriguing Dark Forgotten world. The hellhound hero is an excellent idea, and the heroine could really use some supernatural help for once. Although I could figure out the mysteries from a mile away, the pacing and some personal dynamics made it a fun read.

Go read The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms if you haven’t already and can stand fantasy. Original ideas and world, fascinating characters, delicious layered plot. It was a library read but I went and bought the trilogy immediately afterwards.

Once upon a time I loathed steampunk for its Anglocentrism. Since then, lots of authors presented me with wonderful other slants on clocks, zeppelins, and the time of the Industrial Revolution. Clockwork Samurai is Chinese steampunk, set during an alternate Opium War. Lin presents wonderful ideas of acupuncture versus medicine, what patriotism means, and shows us the freaky isolationism that sadly dominated China and Japan during that era. There’s a bit of sweet romance for those who want it, even if it’s not resolved. I await the next novel eagerly.

Avatar Tuner is a light novel which was by the writer for Digital Devil Saga, retelling the story with some changes so far. DDS is one of my favorite games EVAR, so this book is a fun trip down memory lane. Hindu cyberpunk bizarre trip action plus wonderful cannibalism and existential questions. The translator never lets us forget how wonderful and horrible it would be to eat. This book’s part of the Kindle Owner’s Lending Library. Yay!

My favorite cover of the year is the one on Sweet Ruin. I didn’t understand the red feather until late in the story, but I love how it’s integrated. Cole twists her formula a bit in that this time it’s the lady seeking her mate. Josephine is an excellent heroine whose emotional issues could fill several more books. Her man, Rune, is a bit tortured-hero-jerk, but he manages to redeem himself. The emphasis on familial relationships here is awesome.

As for games, I finally beat Pokemon Y. It’s a lovely adorable game that has me gardening and playing petting zoo and running around in grass and putting on cute outfits with my beloved pets. Perhaps this is because I do not have real pets? I have a special weakness for Pokemon and buy one game every few generations. This game was one of the bigger upgrades over past generations, and I find it satisfying just to toodle around and talk to people and their Pokemon. So cute!

Have you heard of Cinders? It’s a visual novel which retells Cinderella, except you can give our titular character some agency and choose her fate. The stepsisters and stepmother are pretty cool characters, as are the voodoo priestess, shady character, and love interests. Cinders can have several different personalities, and the art is gorgeous. I recommend it without reservations.

Happy new year. May it be one of creativity, joy, and discovery.

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