Staying at home is the norm... What are you reading?

Hawki

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I'm surprised you rated it so highly. What does it take to score a one from you?
Hardly anything gets a 1 or a 5 from me. In theory, the numbers go as following:

1: Terrible
2: Bad
3: Average
4: Good
5: Excellent

Very few things get a 1, because few things have (close to) no redeeming value. Similarly, little gets a 5, because few things are that close to being perfect.
 

Hawki

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Read some stuff:

Toy Story (2012) (3/5)

Prince of Persia: The Graphic Novel (2/5)

Hidden Figures (3/5)
 

BrawlMan

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HG101 Presents: Guide to Beat'em Ups, Volume 1 - This is my favorite book now. This book covers 2D Brawlers from the 80s up to the 90s. The companies for this volume are Technos (who gets the most pages), Capcom, Konami, and Sega. Their popular and more obscure games are talked about in great detail Not only that, but they even talk about games in certain franchises that crossed different mediums or did different genres. All of the Double Dragon Tournament Fighters (including the unofficial sequel, Rage of the Dragons) are mentioned, and even the comics, the terrible movie, and the cartoon get page time.

They graphics design and typography are done wonderfully. There is so much detail and you even get screenshot comparisons between different versions games with their arcade and console counterparts. At the end of the book, there is even a nice little art gallery that compares the inspiration character and enemy designs all brawlers took from each other. My only complaints with the book, is the author has some weird opinions or strange nitpicks for certain games. The other being that I have no idea when the Volume 2 will be released. My guess for Volume 2, is SNK, Tecmo, Irem, and more obscure companies are gonna be written. Rare will probably get a spot all about Battletoads. Another possible subject is 3D brawlers, but most of that will probably be saved for Volume 3.

Here is the copy I bought:



There is alternate cover to Volume 1 you can buy.

 
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Hawki

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Read some stuff:

Great Furphies of Australian History (3/5)

Deltora Quest: The Isle of Illusion (2/5)

Toy Story Adventures: Volume 1 (3/5)
 

Agema

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Hardly anything gets a 1 or a 5 from me. In theory, the numbers go as following:

1: Terrible
2: Bad
3: Average
4: Good
5: Excellent
I usually favour a 4-point scale: 0 (fail), 1 (borderline), 2 (decent), 3 (excellent).
 
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Hawki

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Deltora Quest: The Shadowlands (3/5)

The third and final installment of the "Deltora Quest 2" series. Truth be told, I don't know why I really started reading this, but TL, DR, it doesn't live up to Deltora Quest 1. I think that's a combination of me being much, MUCH older than when I read the first series (and let's be honest, this is JF material), but also that it simply isn't as good.

That said, The Shadowlands is in contention for the strongest entry in the series, but a lot of it feels undeveloped, at least in regards to the ideas it presents. Our trio finally enter the titular Shadowlands (after hearing about them since Day 1), and what we find is actually pretty well fleshed out, at least in terms of wordpainting and scenery. Desolate environment (that kind of reminds me of the Zebak homeland in Rowan of Rin...I guess Rodda likes recycling material?), with nightmarish creatures, and some...interesting, denizens. That, and we get more insight into how things operate - the cloning pods of Grey Guards (not literally called cloning pods, but they are in all but name), and the Conversion Project (using worms for mind control) that actually isn't too bad a plan for the Shadow Lord, really - let the former slaves back into Deltora, where they can infect more people, and they can bring the realm under his control.

However, none of this really lasts long enough. Pipe is played, day is saved, slaves escape, the end. Yay...
 

BrawlMan

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The American Tenchi comic books from Pioneer America. A six issue Mini series that's based off the Tenchi Universe continuity. I was vaguely aware of these, but never stopping to look back in the early 2000s. These comics are rare now. I found them through a scan site that had them in high quality scans. And these comics are actually really good. Why you can tell there is an American art style to it, mainly the covers, it emulates the look of the TV show perfectly. The best parts of the comic are when the cast get to be themselves. It's just a fun and serviceable Tenchi story. Definitely better than Tecnci in Tokyo, the later ovas, and a majority of the nonsensical spin-offs.

The original characters made for this comic are pretty good all things considered. They actually feel like they fit into this universe. Another plus is that Tenchi has character here. Not that he didn't before, but he is more active, more competent and useful, and get some wins in. Also, my girl Ryoko, can dual wield energy swords for the final fight.

Apparently there was supposed to be a sequel and second run of these comics, but they ran out of money and funding despite the success. The podcast has extra details.

I won't spoil much else, but I recommend this to any fan of the franchise. There's a podcast that came out a couple years ago from the fan site that has a discussion. Beware of spoilers though.

 
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Agema

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Purgatory Mount (Adam Roberts)

This is a book with an interesting structure. It starts with some high SF with a bunch of posthumans off to explore an ancient artefact in the (probably far) distant future. However, it does not take long to suddenly drop a big curveball into these posthumans that make our perceptions of them very different. Then it suddenly switches to a (not so far) distant earth, as the USA begins to collapse into civil war, with the release of memory-wrecking chemicals that make people dependent on their mobile phones to act as their memory which is most of the book. Then it shifts back, at the end, to the posthumans for a fairly brief conclusion and wrap-up.

Adam Roberts is a professor of literature and his SF tends to be very high concept. This is one of his books that has taken ideas from classic works of literature and reconfigured them into a SF story - specifically, Dante's Inferno (which is well signposted very early). Perhaps then there is an issue here that this in fact a book about social commentary and philosophy disguised as SF novel, and without sufficient knowledge of the "source" book and Christian (/ Catholic) theology etc., you'll be missing much of it. I have only loose knowledge, so I suspect I do not see a lot of the allegories. Even if like me your ability to step into the real depth is limited, it's wittily written, amusing and interesting - but it doesn't quite gel together purely on this level. There is an mini-explanation of the book at the back, at least. You might even benefit from reading that first.

So... I think this is a worthwhile read even if you skip the underlying philosophy. And it would potentially be a great deal better if you can grasp more of that context, but I don't know because I can't review something I can't see properly.
 

Agema

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The Unspoken Name (A.K. Larkwood)

Intriguing if not great fantasy. It's in a setting where there are multiple worlds connected by interdimensional gates; the gates existing in a plane called The Maze which effectively grows by consuming the dying remnants of worlds whose gods have died. Our heroine, Csorwe, is a tusked humanoid who is whisked away from her life as handmaiden to a god of death/destruction (quite a very passive god - destruction more in the sense of entropy, because why hurry what's inevitable?) by a mysterious mage. The mage trains her up as a fighter and spy, and sends her out as his agent. In particular, she is set to discover an artefact called the Reliquary of Pentravesse, which is thought to be a source of great power. But can Csorwe claim it for her boss, and can she really escape the clutches of her god that easily?

It's quite a light read - the pages seem to flow by quickly. The characters and plot are interesting enough, and I appreciated the setting which I could almost call original except that the concept has cropped up a few times in the last 10 years or so (e.g. Edward Cox's Relic Guild trilogy, which at this juncture I might rate as superior, if more grim).
 

Breakdown

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Talisman, by Stephen King and Peter Straub.

A story about a boy who goes on a quest to save his mother's life by embarking on a road trip across both the USA and an alternate fantasy world which he can flip into.

It's pretty good, fairly brutal in places. It's a bit disappointing though in that it feels that there's a really interesting backstory underpinning the events in the story, but then you realise towards the end that you're not going to get that backstory.
 

Hawki

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Read some stuff:

Star Wars: The High Republic – The Great Jedi Rescue (3/5)

Captain Marvel: Beginnings (3/5)

Guardians of the Galaxy: Story of the Guardians (1/5)

Yeah, it's been so slow at the library (probably because of Covid), I have time to pluck children's books off the shelf, read them in 5 minutes, then get back to work, and no-one notices.

Anyway, first two are what you'd expect (mostly), Guardians one is utter dogshit. Children's book or otherwise, it fails.
 

Johnny Novgorod

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Klara and the Sun, by Kazuo Ishiguro

I'm liking it so far. It's vaguely futuristic narrated in the first-person by a robot (well, "Artificial Friend", which they abbreviate to AF so I keep calling them "as fucks"). As fucks are sold as playtime buddies for lonely kids because I guess everybody's homeschooled. Hard to glean much information about what the hell is going on because the story is peppered with the unfocused commentary of an AI. The back of the book says something about love.
 

Hawki

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Halo 4: The Essential Visual Guide (4/5)

Anyone who knows me knows that I detest Halo 4, but the visual guide for it is pretty neat. Not just visually, but the lore it provides along the way. Interested more in some subjects than others, but pretty good read. Just still dislike the game it's based on.

He-Man: The Eternity War - Volume 1 (4/5)

Wasn't expecting to like this, but actually ended up enjoying it. Artwork is gorgeous, and it's got the quality of being so over the top, with the stakes so high, and whatnot, that you can't help but be sucked along for the ride.
 

Agema

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The Sword Falls (A.J. Smith)

Second in the Form and Void trilogy, a Lovecraft-themed fantasy (Cthulhu is in it) about some European-style invaders, "Eastrons", who fled their homeland and took over the land of a sort of native American style population. Arrogant and insular in their dominance over the natives, and ignorant of this new land, several generations later they find themselves woefully unprepared for the forces emerging that they are to face. This book centres around two main characters: the prince of the Eastron, Oliver Dawn Claw, as he seeks approval to take the throne; the hero of the last book, Adeline Brand; and much else develops Marius Cyclone, who leads a minority faction of one of the Eastron clans. Without giving too much of its prequel The Glass Breaks away, things are going downhill fast, and the plans of various Eastron factions are consequently picking up speed: to fight Cthulhu, flee from it, or bend the knee in service. It's relatively uncomplicated, but it's an easy read, reasonably thoughtful, and jolly good fun.
 

BrawlMan

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I got myself some young adult fantasy novels. Legendborn and Skin of the Sea. I'll start reading Legendborn tomorrow.



 
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Johnny Novgorod

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Finished Klara and the Sun. Ended up really liking it.

I hate the word 'dystopia'. Let's just say that twenty minutes from now the socially blessed get to engineer their own children, isolate them with private tuition and pair them with "Artificial Friends" to hold off the loneliness. Tell me Ishiguro wrote this sometime during the 2020 pandemic without telling me. One such AF is Klara, who is essentially picked from an iStore to chaperone a sickly kid named Josie. Klara narrates the story of her involvement with Josie's family with a robotic precision that highlights her keen observation of human nature as well as her limited understanding of it.

For me it's Klara's narration (moreso than her personality) what sells the story. For all the lovely and horrible things she experiences she doesn't seem to have an opinion on anything, let alone act on it, and the unflinching objectivity with which she catalogues everything is highly suggestive of self-denial and stunted emotion. And purpose is a big theme. In typical Ishiguro fashion (see Remains of the Day) Klara is made a social outlier leading a vital yet relatively thankless existence. But is it as vital as she thinks, or as thankless as it seems? Klara's solar-powered and makes the Sun into a god with whom she bargains for Josie's health in a way deeply reminiscent of religious superstition. We're also basically solar-powered and used to worship it too.

Anyway. Story skirts into typical philosophical pondering as it questions a machine's capacity for love, how unique or replaceable life is, and whether we're defined by our own feelings as much as by others'. All of which sounds terribly familiar, and usually convey the same answer over and over, but to be fair the author doesn't betray a bleaker vision of the world for being sentimental about his robot protagonist. He builds up the tension with a dark twist at the halfway point too, and sticks the landing with a heartbreaking ending.
 
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Hawki

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Toy Story Adventures: Volume 2 (3/5)

There's not much to say here. I started reading the Toy Story comics to help with the TS story I was doing, but finished it with plenty of comic reading to go. Still, I'm generally resolved to finish everything I start, so ploughed on.

Anyway, they're fine. Multiple stand-alone mini stories, mainly designed for kids. Helps me appreciate the films more I guess, that their writing is accessible to adults as much as children.
 

Hawki

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Star of Deltora: Shadows of the Master (3/5)

Back in the Deltora setting, which isn't just the Deltora setting anymore, but that's another issue.

Anyway, SoD, as far as I can tell, takes place after Deltora Quest 3, but you might not know it. It references the events of the first series and the buildup extensively, whereas I don't think there's any mention of anything in Deltora Quest 2, and there's maybe one reference to DQ3. Not saying this is bad writing per se, but intentional or not, SoD feels somewhat segregated from what's come before.

On the other hand, I actually kind of liked this more than DQ2. Gone are quests to save thousands and the land, in is a smaller, more personal story. Nothing too fancy - basically a young girl vying for an apprenticeship on a trading ship, dealing with everything from backstabbers to how her father shamed her family in the business - but it works. Like I said, nothing special (this is still JF-level material), but it works. I found myself more immersed in Britta's story than Lief's in DQ2, in that while Lief is hardly a Gary Stu or anything, he's still hyper-competent at this point in time, while Britta is far more flawed. So, decent start.

There's also something else at the author's note. I don't know if it was confirmed or even hinted at that this was the case, but Rodda does some canon welding by establishing that the Deltora, Rowan of Rin, and Three Doors series all take place in the same world. I don't have a problem with this, but what got to me was her statement of hoping to write many more stories in this setting. Considering she's in her 70s, I'm not sure how much longer she'll be able to do that. Heck, I'm in my thirties, I'm still chipping away at the boulder for writing, and it's clear that I'll never be able to write everything I want to. Still, least Rodda's got an audinece.

So, decent read, at the end of the day.
 

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There's a couple of them which are either implicitly or explicitly racist. One of of the most infamous is "The Rats in the Walls" where the Narrators Black Cat has a very unfortunate name Niggerman(really, Howard? Really? Of all the Black Cat names you went with THAT?) but the Call of Cthulhu has a lot of references to "Mongrel" and "Half Breed" types(Who all have dark skin, BTW), who are all bad and evil and trying to raise evil gods and such.
After listening to both of these again (I only have the audiobooks), for Call of Cthulhu, yes I can see what you are saying. Didn't really stand out to me because sometimes descriptions gloss over for me a bit with audiobooks. With Rats in the Walls it just straight up isn't in my version. It's some sort of abridged acted version and there's not even the mention of a cat.
 
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Hawki

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Read some stuff:

The Great White Man-eating Shark (3/5)

Starship Troopers (comic adaptation) (3/5)

Starship Troopers: Dominant Species (3/5)

Resistance: Metastasis (3/5)