Monday Chatter: Pride Parade and Death By TBR

(Pride Parade and Death By TBR performing at your nearest city. Get your tickets now!)

A bit of a late post today because we had our Pride Parade here in Vancouver yesterday and I stayed out really late walking, eating, melting, and dancing–not necessarily in that order. There were some controversies surrounding the parade this year because both the Vancouver library and the University of British Columbia (deservedly) got banned from the event for hosting two different transphobic speakers (because something something freedom of speech). And some have been arguing against the decision, saying that politics should be uncoupled from Pride, which…I’m not sure whether to laugh or rage at? Pride is politics, people.

Other than that, though, it was a TON of fun as usual, and a much needed break from all the heavy events that have been headlining my life this past couple of months.

Also, happy civic holiday to all my fellow Canadians! I’ll be going out to the ocean with a friend in like…fifteen minutes. So let’s see how fast I can write the rest of this thing. ๐Ÿ˜›

 

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This Week – Books

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โžฝ Wicked Fox by Kat Cho:
THIS IS IT, GUYS. I’m finally reading this. This is the first (English) fantasy book set in South Korea with Korean mythology with Korean characters that I’ve held in my hands, and I can’t even begin to explain what that means to me. It’s a monumental occasion and I feel like I should be lighting candles and making offerings or something. Tears are definitely on the menu.

Also, two chapters in and we get to see characters playing StarCraft at a PC bang. YES. YES. YESSSSSS. (My only criticism so far = the writing style. But I’ll get to that in the actual review)

โžฝ The Unlikely Escape of Uriah Heep by H. G. Parry:
Inkheart but for adults, starring two brothers. So far I really dislike Rob, the older, more normal brother of the two, and also the narrator of the story. But that’s not at all a bad thing because I like seeing what writers do with unlikable characters.

โžฝ Crier’s War by Nina Varela:
I’m part of the blog tour in September and I selected the review + fanart option, so I want to get a head start on it. I’m not super far into it so I can’t say much, but I’m definitely not unhappy with what I’m seeing.

 

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  • The Ventriloquists by E.R. Ramzipoor:
    I’m really excited for this one. It’s a WW2 book about a Belgium resistance newsprint that turns Nazi propaganda into satire, and it’s being blurbed as a WW2 Ocean’s Eleven. Also, because I haven’t seen people talk about the representation in this book and I had to find out from an article on Lambda Literary, I’d just like to mention that FYI, the story is prominently queer.

 


Recent Games

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So I’m almost close to finishing a game called Outer Wilds (currently only available on Xbox One and Epic Games). There’s a bit of controversy surrounding it because it was initially sold as a Steam game to the backers on Kickstarter, and people were understandably pissed that the devs reneged on their promise and decided to release it on Epic Games first. And I have thoughts on Epic Games that are mostly…not positive, but here’s one thing I can’t deny: Outer Wilds is an incredible game.

You play an alien astronaut exploring the reaches of the solar system, trying to uncover the secrets of an ancient civilization. It’s an unexpectedly deep and beautiful narrative hidden behind a really quirky, cartoony art design, and I adore what it says about walking through life with curiosity in your heart.

Seriously, go play it. I’m obsessed with its world and I promise you will be too.

 

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And now I’m off! What are your plans for this week?

Top Ten Tuesday – Settings I Want to See More of in Fiction

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Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish and is now being hosted by The Artsy Reader.

I’ve been telling myself that I’ll try out a TTT topic for over a year now, but I never actually took the plunge. But I saw posts for this week’s topic pop up in my inbox (at like 9 PM) and I just couldn’t resist. Because this is a topic I think about a lot.

So here’s a last minute list of settings that I’d like to see more of in fiction!

 


Underwater – Sea and Ocean

The incredible thing about these large bodies water is that they’re horror, fantasy, sci-fi all rolled into one. They inspire awe and fear and deep, deep curiosity, and really, they kind of do a lot the worldbuilding for you. Which is why it’s crazy that we don’t see more of them in stories. Especially underwater societies.

I do feel like we see them more in video games than we do in books: Bioshock, Sunless Sea: Zubmariner, Subnautica, and Soma, to name a few.

But these are several book examples (some not yet released), with two of them do featuring underwater societies.

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๐Ÿ  Low by Rick Remender (writer) & Greg Tocchini (artist): a jaw-droppingly gorgeous graphic novel with incredible worldbuilding and a protagonist who oozes optimism.

๐Ÿ  The Deep by Rivers Solomon (with Daveed Diggs, William Hutson, Jonathan Snipes): Releasing this fall, and I’m unreasonably excited for it. It tackles slavery from an angle that I’ve never seen before.

๐Ÿ ย  The Light at the Bottom of the World by London Shah: A story about a submerged London starring a protagonist who’s a submersible racer.

 


Inside of a Whale

SUPER specific, I know. It’s also kind of related to “Underwater” but not really because there’s no written law that says whales can only exist in the ocean. There could be sky whales! Space whales! And dream whales are definitely a thing. They’d be like these massive islands you encounter during your romps through the dream world, with each one housing….well, something. Maybe the inside of each one would be a different level of the dream court. Maybe they’re all home to different dreamscapes (like a cetacean Inception). And maybe there’s this one super illusive whale that all dreamers have heard of but never seen, and the legend goes that it’ll lead you to the place you most desire. So kind of like Moby Dick, but trippier.

But why whales, you ask? No special reason other than that I just really, really, really love them and they’ve always been the subject of fascination for me, both scientifically and narratively. They’re immensely complex creatures and I find their existence constantly astounding and humbling. And it’s so very easy to imagine a myriad of worlds just sitting inside their stomachs.

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Sky Islands

Because I want to see more airships in stories and because ground islands are so yesterday. And it’d be cool to see all the different creative methods of transportation that take you from island to island (other than airships). Plus, there’s the added thrill of knowing that one small misstep out on the garden or balcony can lead to a deadly fall.

Some of my favourite examples include Bioshock Infinite and An Alchemy of Masques and Mirrors (and a fairly recent YA series that I can’t remember the name of).

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Ice and Snow

I adore stories set in ice and snow and I can’t quite figure out why. Maybe because I dislike summer and latching onto cold things is something my brain does in retaliation. Or maybe because all the icy bits make the warm and cozy bits stand out more.

Whatever the reason, I want more of them. Books I can easily point to and say, “Hey, that’s one for my Winter TBR!” (pretending for a moment that curated seasonal TBRs is a thing I actually do). And movies/shows and games that I can consume during the summer to stave off the heat.

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Forest Cities

I’ve dreamed of living in a forest city since reading/watching The Lord of the Rings, and that dream sort of became a (virtual) reality when I played Lord of the Rings Online and got to actually frolic through Lothlรณrien. And I talk a lot about packing everything up and going to live with the bears in some remote cabin in the woods, but like…I don’t think the postal service does book deliveries (or any deliveries) to the interior forests of British Columbia. Also, wildfires are a thing. So I guess I’ll just continue to live out my wood elf dream via fiction.

 

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God Realms

I feel like most stories nowadays that feature gods take place in the mortal world, and it’s either a mortal protagonist getting caught up in godly affairs or a god/demi-god protagonist getting caught up in mortal affairs. We don’t often see modern stories about gods set exclusively in the world of gods. And when we do get it, more often than not it’s set in the Underworld.

So I’d like to see more variety. More breadth. I want to see mind-bending, cloying opulence rubbing elbows with decaying violence. I want to see how each territory interacts with another. What are the diplomatic relations like? What are the rules ofย  each kingdom? (goddom?)

The biggest examples I can think of is the God of War franchise and maybe the Sandman series (I know the Endless aren’t technically gods but their powers are god-adjacent).

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And for stories that are set in underworlds, Lost Gods by Brom is phenomenally rich and beautiful and The Border Keeper by Kerstin Hall offers a quiet but vivid world of gods and demons.

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Very Specific and/or Non-Murdery Schools

I’m talking beyond assassin and wizard schools. Schools for automaton mechanics. Aspiring griffin trainers. Time traveling spies. Schools specifically made for demi-gods, because for some reason their powers manifest in unstable ways and they need to learn how to control that shit. Or schools for killer nuns, as we see in the Book of the Ancestor series.

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But I’d really love it if the school featured mostly non-murdery activities. Like a traveling culinary school that roams the entire realm or galaxy, and its students learn about sustainable foods and methods on how to catch and cook some of the more challenging critters that exist in the world/universe.

 


Steampunked Asian Countries

So back in 2015, the universe gifted the world a masterpiece of an indie game called 80 Days. It’s basically a retelling of Jules Verne’s Around the World in 80 Days (mashed up with his other famous works)except more steampunk and fantastical. And I’ve always loved steampunk as a subgenre, but I never realized how much I need Asian steampunk in my life until then. Steam-powered caravans pulling merchandise through the Silk Road. Asian aesthetics translated through the eyes of gears and cogs. And I want more of it. Badly.

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Big Space Stations or Ships

Because they’re large enough to be their own little ecosystem of human and alien society, which is always interesting and fun, and because these stories usually feature found families and characters who would cross the depths of deep space and back for each other.ย The Mass Effect series and Becky Chambers’ books being notable examples.

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Literally anywhere in the world that’s not the U.S.

Close your eyes and stick a pin anywhere in the world map, and if it’s not the U.S. then I want a story about it (unless we’re talking about Native American stories). Even if it’s out in the middle of the Pacific. Nothing against the U.S! It’s just that the market is so saturated with them and I just want to explore more countries that I’m not familiar with. Or countries that I am familiar with but have not been given enough spotlight in media. And let’s face it, there’s a LOT of them out there.

 

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If you have recommendations for any of these categories–books, games, movies, anime–please, please, please do send them my way!

Monday Chatter: Portal Fantasies and the Best Game of 2019 (So Far)

Happy Victoria Day to all you Canadian readers! I meant to go for a bike ride around the coastal beach trail in “celebration,” but it’s pouring rain so I’m writing this post instead.

 

Last Week – Books

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All the Worlds Between Us by Morgan Lee Miller:
A YA F/F contemporary featuring a swimmer protagonist. I liked parts of it but I think it’ll hold more appeal to teenage readers. [Review here]

 
Dedicated (Rhythm of Love 1) by Neve Wilder:
A M/M contemporary featuring two bandmates. I liked reading about the creative process of song writing more than the relationship aspect, but it was an enjoyable read overall.

 
Last Bus to Everland by Sophie Cameron:
I came into this book expecting one thing (a quirky portal fantasy) and got something completely different (a quiet and profound look at the hardships of life) and I can’t say that I’m disappointed. Really, I’m the furthest thing from disappointed. This was a lovely read and I’ll need to check out Sophie Cameron’s other book because she writes in a style–sad and wistful–that I’m very much into.

 

This Week – Books

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The City of Lost Fortunes (A Crescent City Novel) by Bryan Camp:
This was one of the top books I meant to get to in 2018 but didn’t have the time for. But the publisher kindly offered a review copy for the Gather the Fortunes (book 2) blog tour and I couldn’t say no. It’s an urban fantasy set in New Orleans featuring a biracial protagonist with an ability to find lost things. I started it yesterday and I’m already enamoured by the setting.

A Crescent City Novel (A Crescent City Novel) by Bryan Camp:
This is the second book in the series featuring a different protagonist. Characters from Lost Fortunes pop up but the story’s not directly related to the first so I could probably get away with reading this before book 1. And it might come to that if I run out of time.

Jade War by Fonda Lee:
STILL reading this! Don’t get me wrong, I’m loving it, but I keep getting distracted by other books.

 

Last Week – Games

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I’m currently in the latter half of A Plague Tale: Innocence, a linear narrative (mostly) stealth game set in France during the Middle Ages. It follows Amicia and Hugo de Rune, children of minor nobles, as they try to navigate through a land devastated by a strange rat plague.

And I can safely say that it’s the best game I’ve played so far this year.

Everything about it–from sound and environmental design to gameplay mechanics–is super polished and satisfying, and the balance between the brutality of the setting and the tenderness of the siblings’ relationship is heartstoppingly beautiful. And it does so many things with its characters I can’t get enough of (that I need to ramble about in a separate discussion/review post): a female protagonist who is openly vulnerable and loving, female friendships, small heartwarming moments that have nothing to do with the plot and everything to do with the characters.

And if that doesn’t convince you, here’s a video trailer with Sean Bean being super dramatic:

Trigger warning: This is a bleak, horrific story. There are scenes of rats devouring humans, mounds and mounds of corpses strewn around, and just a whole spectrum of human depravity. So take care if you’re sensitive to that.

 

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Holler at me about your plans for the week!

Monday Chatter (Books, Games & Life) – Rain! Glorious Rain! | Viva la Revoluciรณn

Hey guys! I’m a tad late on this one so it’s gonna be a bit short.

The weather’s gone from “I’m sorry, WHY is it 23 degrees in the middle of March???” to a nice, comfortable, predictable 10-15 and raining” which I’m pretty happy about because that makes it the perfect weather for rainy-pier watching. And rainy boating.

So besides reading and gaming, I took my kayak out for a lil’ 2 hour float in the ocean this weekend (I keep hoping I’ll run into seals every single time I do this but sadly it only seems to happen about…20% of the time). I also watched a lot of curling (Sweden, we need to talk about how irritatingly good your team is) and hit a few tennis balls indoors. And then I capped it off with some watercolouring.

Sometimes I wonder if I have too many hobbies going on at once, because when someone asks me “What did you do this weekend?” the answer probably shouldn’t sound like I’m reading off a youth camp itinerary. But nah. That’s crazy talk.

 

โš”๏ธ= Fantasy; ๐Ÿš€= Scifi; ๐Ÿ‘ป= Paranormal; ๐Ÿ”= Mystery; ๐ŸŒบ= Contemporary; ๐Ÿ—๏ธ= Historical; ๐ŸŒˆ= LGBTQIAP+

BOOKS – THIS WEEK

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Finder by Suzanne Palmer ๐Ÿš€:
A space adventure story about a repo man who gets caught up in a whirlwind of trouble and lands himself smack dab in the middle of a faction war. I’m reading through it right now and so far it’s uncomplicated fun with a likeable protagonist and charming side characters.

Miranda in Milan by Katharine Duckett โš”๏ธ๐Ÿ—๏ธ๐ŸŒˆ:
I couldn’t get to this one last week so take two!

 

The Binding by Bridget Collins ๐Ÿ—๏ธโš”๏ธ๐ŸŒˆ:
I’m excited and worried for this one because everything about the synopsis says this is My Thing–a queer magical gothic story about young man who becomes a bookbinder’s apprentice. Oh and it’s also a story about the power of stories. Please please please be good.

 

GAMES – We, the Revolution

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I only got through, like, an hour of Sekiro last week, but I did get a chance to start and finish this bloodthirsty little gem. We, the Revolution is a visual novel/strategy game where you play as the judge of France’s Revolutionary Tribunal–an official court created by the newly established government to try, imprison, and execute enemies of the French Revolution. I’m still not sure what to feel about it. The experience was…grim and discomforting (not that I expected a game about the French Revolution to be a bundle of laughs), but also really compelling?

So yeah, I’ve been casually sending people to the guillotine in my spare time. Just a typical weekday night.

 

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Whisper to me ALL your weekend misadventures and your plans for this week!

Monday Books & Games – Broken Hearts and a Romp Through Sengoku Japan

I’ve seen Sionna (Books in Her Eyes) and Lisa (Way Too Fantasy) doing Monday updates forever now, talking the books they have lined up for the current week, and I was always on the sidelines going, “Huh, I should join them someday.”

Well, someday is now, apparently, and as my creatively-lacking title suggests, I’m expanding the concept to include video games!

I’ve also smooshed it with the Sunday Post (instead of doing a separate Sunday Post, because I have something else planned for Sundays), so I’ll also be talking about stuff I read and played in the previous week.

 

โš”๏ธ= Fantasy; ๐Ÿš€= Scifi; ๐Ÿ‘ป= Paranormal; ๐Ÿ”= Mystery; ๐ŸŒบ= Contemporary; ๐Ÿ—๏ธ= Historical; ๐ŸŒˆ= LGBTQIAP+

 

Last Week – Books

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Wakenhyrst by Michelle Paver: ๐Ÿ”๐Ÿ—๏ธ
I loved Paver’s Chronicles of Ancient Darkness series when I was a teen but never tried her adult books, so I thought “why not?” Well, I went into this expecting gothic chills and witchcraft and got a really boring coming-of-age story instead, so I guess that’s why not.

Deposing Nathan by Zack Smedley: ๐ŸŒบ๐ŸŒˆ
This one trampled all over my heart and hung me up like wet laundry. It’s a queer YA in the vein of Adam Silvera with grey characters and exploration of religion and sexuality, all of which are handled beautifully.

The Mortal Sleep (Hollow Folk 4) by Gregory Ashe: ๐Ÿ‘ป๐Ÿ”๐ŸŒˆ
*hysterical laughter*
*uncontrollable sobbing*
(Full review to come)

 

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Ancestral Night (White Space 1) by Elizabeth Bear: ๐Ÿš€
(DNF @ ~30%)
I like Bear’s fantasy stuff but her first foray into space opera just…didn’t work out for me.

Upon a Burning Throne by Ashok K. Banker: โš”๏ธ
(DNF @ ~20%) It’s criminal how gorgeous that cover is, and it’s even more criminal just how awful the content is in comparison. So, so disappointed by this, but I’m glad I DNFed early because from the reviews I’ve read, it apparently gets worse.

 

Last Week – Games

Between hating on Epic Games exclusives and being busy with a dozen other things, I didn’t have time to play much last week. I did get a chance to finish Eastshade, though!

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Developed by Eastshade Studios, Eastshade is a RPG/walking sim/artist sim where you play as a painter exploring a fantastical island full of anthropomorphic animals. You meet people, help them with their troubles, and paint whatever you want of the world.

It’s got its share of issues and some parts definitely feel unpolished, but overall it’s…wholesome. And strangely charming and beautiful. Most importantly, I can’t stop thinking about it. And that’s a win in my book. Full review possibly to come!

 

 

This Week – Books

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We Rule the Night by Claire Eliza Bartlett: โš”๏ธ
This has been blurbed as a fantasy Code Name Verity, with a focus on female friendships, so of course I’ll be checking it out. Look out for the blog tour post on Thursday!

Miranda in Milan by Katharine Duckett: โš”๏ธ๐ŸŒˆ
A queer pseudo-sequel to Shakespeare’s The Tempest. Enough said.

A Memory Called Empire by Arkady Martine: ๐Ÿš€
I’m having a hard time with this one. I love, LOVE the setting but I just…can’t get into the writing style. Hopefully it’ll grow on me by the end.

 

This Week – Games

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Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice

Developed by FromSoftware, the brains behind Dark Souls and Bloodborne, Sekiro is a brutal action game set in 1500s Japan. I’ve heard mostly good things about this one which is awesome. And it’s apparently different from the Souls series which is even better because I want something new and fresh from the studio, not another Souls game dressed up in a different outfit.

 

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What do you have planned for this week?