Friday, 31 March 2017

My last 5 books: A mish-mash of languages and genres

1. Gods & Tulips, by Neil Gaiman. Similar to Free Speeches this is a compilation of speeches and essays by various writers in defence of comics. Same as with Free Speeches I mostly skimmed through it, found some good parts, smiled a bit, and continued skimming. I got this book as part of Gaiman's Humble Bundle. It was somewhat interesting, but I would probably have enjoyed it more if I had a larger interest in the world of comics and actually knew more of what they were talking about. So it's probably more my fault that the book's that I didn't like it more.

2. The Stand, by Stephen King. The last book in my King marathon! And I really liked it, although it felt too long at times, and the way it all ended felt a bit anti-climactic. I was very excited to read this after I read an interview where Corey Taylor said this was his favourite book ever. For me, I wouldn't call this a favourite but it's still really good. I liked most of the characters and for the ones I didn't like  I was still interested enough in them to want to know where their stories would lead them. I felt like King spent too much time on certain characters' back story (e.g. Trashcan Man) and not enough on others' (e.g. Randall Flagg). I'm not a scientist in any way, but I still got the gut feeling that some of the science in the book wouldn't really work. While I mostly enjoyed the book it's getting on a bit in years (and it's still supposed to take place in the future, which is now 27 years in the past, but it's the future from the book's time of writing), and I would actually love to see a remake of this book but in our close future. I would like to see how this post-apocalyptic world would work with the prospect of trying to get the Internet back online or cell phones, and maybe finding survivors even in other countries. I want to find out what happened in the rest of the world. Did the flu hit there too or was it isolated to the US? Did the rest of the world founder or just move on and forget about the States? Food for thought... But the main question on my mind after finishing this book is: What happened to Kojak?

3. Kuroshitsuji 1, by Yana Toboso. Black Butler in English. I have heard so much about this manga and several years back it was very popular. I haven't gotten around to reading it until now, and I was actually really surprised. I expected some fanciful slice-of-life manga from some rich boy's life. What I got was plots and demons. I expected silly and got exciting. And now I'm really looking forward to continuing this story.

4. The House of the Four Winds, by Mercedes Lackey & James Mallory. First part in what looks to be a series, each book detailing the adventures of each of the twelve daughtes of Swansgaarde. This book is so up my alley it's not even funny (which is why I bought it to begin with); badass ladies in cross-dress, swashbuckling their way through pirates, all the while learning about seafaring and falling in love with the young and handsome crew member. Yes, please! What I liked even more about this book was that it wasn't the silly rose-coloured sort of girly love that's usually the case when romance finds its way into books. This was a mature kind of love. Something that evolved from simple companionship into friendship into something more. And also, it's not just pirates - it's also magic! Only thing I didn't like about this book was the dialogue - it felt a little stilted. The text was good. The dialogue not so much.

5. Barnbruden, by Anna Laestadius Larsson. When I was about 10 years old I had a pretty obsessive interest in the royal lineage of Sweden. I don't remember what got me into it. But my interest sort of lingers in the back of my head, and when I saw this book which details the courtly intrigues of the reign of Gustav III, I pretty much immediately decided to get it. That was sometime last year. I only got around to reading it now and I absolutely loved it. Partly fiction and partly reality, which made me really interested in reading the actual journal of Princess Hedvig Eleonora Charlotta, which of course is what this book bases it's reality upon. Every time a character was introduced in the book I did a run-through of everything I already knew about them inside my head, fitting what I knew into the story of the book. The author must've done the same, because everything actually fits. Thus far one of my absolute favourites of this year. Really excited to read the next two in the trilogy!

Monday, 20 March 2017

Game completed: Sid Meier's Civilization VI

Ok, so you never really complete a game like this. But I decided that, for now, I'd do one campaign and then move on to the next game.

So when I started I decided my first playthrough of this game would be on the easiest difficulty. I always do that with a new game. And then I decided to have a random leader since I didn't have a preference. I ended up with Russia, and the relationships and religions that followed through the game made me laugh a lot.

My first city started on a tundra landscape, which fits Russia. But then Kongo was my closest neighbour in the desert :P And a bit further from them were the Aztecs. The other countries were Brazil, Spain, Japan, Rome and Greece. When organised religion came about everything was hilarious. I made Russia buddhistic, Rome was Jewish, Greece was Muslim, Spain was Catholic. Japan was extremely devoted to Confucianism, and at one point scared the shit out of me. At one point I was vying for a religious victory, sending out apostles and missionaries all over the world, and then suddenly Japan shows up with a whole fleet of them right around my capital. I had no choice but to declare war against Japan and send out my military to massacre all the priests.

I don't do wars in Civ. I like to build and explore in Civ. If I want to conquer the world I play Total War. So as soon as I got rid of all the priests on my land, I simply let it become a ceasefire until Japan offered to make peace. And then I continued to sit back and grow in peace while my neighbours kept fighting each other :P

About round 300 I decided to focus on a science victory. That was closest to where I was going anyway. Building the spaceport and landing a man on the moon felt incredible, and finally, finally I founded a Mars colony and won the game, with less than 50 rounds left until the campaign would've ended automatically.

I know a lot of people compare Civ VI with Civ V, but I didn't play Civ V enough to be able to compare them fairly. All I know is that I thoroughly enjoyed Civ VI and I really want to play again.

Maybe not a theocratic, buddhistic Russia the next time?

Sunday, 5 March 2017

Dealing with backlog: Until Dawn

Finally finished with this game! I got it for Christmas 2015, shortly after this game was all the hype, and started playing it a couple days after. Then I forgot about it. I rediscovered it when I was playing Michonne and picked it up again a few days after I completed Michonne. I didn't restart the game, but continued on my exisiting playthrough - eternally grateful for all the "Previously on..." this game has.

Before I asked my parents for this game I had seen PewDiePie play it and I knew how his playthrough turned out. So I remembered a bunch of things. Still I managed to go in a different direction. Don't know how. It's the tiny things that matter.

Jessica was the first to die for me. She died in chapter four after she was dragged through the window by the wendigo. Mike chased after her; I missed one single button, which made him too slow to save her in time and she lost her jaw. Lovely. One single button.

I continued on and managed to keep literally everyone else alive until the end. The first time I got ready to blow up the lodge I got too trigger-happy and blew the whole thing up while three of them were still in there xD So I replayed the last chapter, in which I missed a button again. I went slow through the scenes in the lodge. Everyone got out, and then Sam died. It was during one of those don't move things, and I swear I didn't move, but I did miss a button when Sam was running towards the lodge, which may have resulted in that don't move check being harder to pass? I don't know, but it seems likely. In any case I got through the game with only Jessica and Sam dead, and Josh being cannibalistic.

I really enjoyed this game, because it was so full of choice & consequence, everything I did would get some sort of consequence later on. Whether I missed a button or chose whether to run or hide, the action would come back and bite me at some point. Butterfly effect, all throughout the game. I also really liked the early therapy sessions with Peter Stormare :P Wonder if the game had been different if I hadn't been so persistent with the gore? Wonder if the psycho had worn a different mask if I hadn't said that clowns were creepy af? (They are.) Every single thing you do is a choice in this game and it makes all the difference, and it's amazing.

(What follows here is me ranting about consoles and the characters. You may skip it.)

I rarely play games on console because I'm so bad with the controls. I usually play games like this or other story-heavy things which aren't all that fast paced, because I keep messing up the buttons. For Until Dawn, those times I missed a button it was always because I can never remember which button is circle and which is square. I always have to translate the symbols in my head before pressing and sometimes I was just a bit slow. Triangle is easy. It points up and the button is up. X is always down. Then we have square and circle, with basically the same colour when in a dimly lit room and several times I just forget which button is on which side. Generally I know that square is left and circle is right, but in the heat of the moment I tend to forget. The mishaps I've had in Until Dawn have been me pressing circle when it should be square and vice-versa.

My favourite character was Sam. She was the only one who could keep calm in the midst of everything, and she was the only one who wasn't a spoiled brat complaining about everything. Every time I played as Emily or Jess (thankfully the latter wasn't for long) I just wanted to punch them. Funny thing? Going through Tumblr it seems like Emily is the fan favourite. I don't get it, but fine. Apparantly it's because she's intelligent and resourceful and ok, yes, she is. She's both of those things, but she's also an annoying bitch, a spoiled brat who complains like a baby when things aren't to her liking and uses her boyfriend as a servant. Like ffs, it's not until Matt and she are separated that she actually starts to do things properly instead of just asking Matt to do them for her. I wanted to punch Matt too but for completely different reasons. He was so leashed and he didn't even see it. I liked both Ashley and Chris, but they kept frustrating me with not revealing their feelings for each other and a lot of the time I just yelled "Just kiss!" at the TV screen. Mike, was the one character that grew on me. I didn't like him initially, but he grew up in the face of danger and became someone really level-headed and useful.

Thursday, 2 March 2017

February favourites 2017

Books: 1 comic, 2 speech collections and 1 novel. I didn't even manage to finish the novel this month but it's still the best I've read in February.

• Tsuji Nozomi - "Koko ni Iruzee!" & "Maru Maru Mori Mori"

• Yellowcard - "Always Summer" & Sparzanza - "Follow Me"

• Roadrunner United - "The End" & Pollapönk - "No Prejudice"

• Hayden Panettiere - "Don't Put Dirt On My Grave Just Yet" & C-ute - "Kacchoi Uta"

• Breaking Benjamin "Unknown Soldier" & Creed - "With Arms Wide Open"

Games: ESO, The Walking Dead: Michonne, and Until Dawn. Michonne was the best, even if I put a lot more hours into ESO.

TV shows: So many... But the best show is probably gonna be Call the Midwife S06. Because knowing I have an episode of that show waiting for me when I get home from work always makes me so happy :P

Other: Game night and party night were the highlights of this month.