Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Review: Beta Test by Annabeth Albert

Cover of Beta Test. A dark-haired Desi man leans over to kiss a blonde white man, who has one hand raised to cup the Desi man's cheek.
Review copy provided by the publisher via NetGalley

Tristan is determined to make a good impression at his first proper job, helping to market the game Space Villager. Too bad his concurrent hire, Ravi, is so slapdash. Ravi breezes into orientation in a very flash outfit, cracks jokes about hangovers, and--worst of all--proves to be exactly the kind of guy Tristan’s most prone to crushing on. Ravi’s not exactly thrilled with Tristan’s perpetually ironed wardrobe or his blandly colour-coded task lists, either, let alone the guy’s assertion Ravi is lazy. (Hello, he works sixty hour weeks and volunteers. What more does Tristan want?)

Tensions finally explode between them at an office party made even worse by an outbreak of food poisoning that ensures they’re the only two people who can prep the game’s booth for an important convdention. Eep. Neither one of them’s looking forward to a multi-day road trip in each other’s company, but it doesn't take them long to realize it could be exactly what they both need.

BETA TEST [Amazon | Kobo | Scribd Audio] is the second book in Annabeth Albert’s #gaymers series, which focuses on the employees of a popular crowdfunded game. As is the case with most romance series, you don’t need to read the first book (STATUS UPDATE) to enjoy this one, though I’d definitely recommend checking out the earlier book as soon as you can because it's wonderful.

As is BETA TEST. Wonderful, wonderful wonderful!

I could copy and paste “wonderful” eighty more times, and it’d be the most accurate review I’ve ever written.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Murchie Plus Books: October 16th to 22nd

The premise: I make my dog pose beside every book I read, barring single issue comics. He's fine with this. Really. No diva moments from him, thank you very much.

The photos: go live on Instagram as I edit them and appear here in digest form every Sunday, with descriptive alt tags and additional commentary.

Not pictured: DOZENS OF ISSUES OF X-MEN. I hit UNCANNY #426 during the Readathon, and I also packed away a bunch of NEW X-MEN. It's both great and much darker in tone than anything that's come before, while UNCANNY is its usual "what the fuck is going on" self.

Like, okay, in these issues Nightcrawler gets tricked into thinking he's been ordained as a priest, and it turns out Havok was dating his nurse in his dreams the whole time he was in a coma. Also, Polaris magnetizes some water after Havok dumps her at their wedding so he can get with the girlfriend he's barely even met during his waking hours (who actually seems very nice).

The water magnetization thing happens often enough over the course of the series that I'm beginning to doubt all my previously conceived notions about water.

Oh! And over in NEW X-MEN, Professor X's evil twin takes over his life and sets out to destroy the Shi'ar Empire. Because of course she does.

I also experienced the TREMONTAINE S2 premiere again, this time on audio. This season is gonna be so great.

A sleek grey poodle, Murchie, curls up behind a white iPod with As You Wish's cover on its screen. The cover features a white man dressed all in black, brandishing a rapier.

I deviated from my usual audiobook pattern to listen to AS YOU WISH by Cary Elwes [Amazon | Scribd] before my Overdrive loan expired. It was so much fun! Short, especially since Overdrive allows 2x listening, but extremely enjoyable for anyone who either loves THE PRINCESS BRIDE or wants to see how things work on a genial movie set. Now I'm eager to watch the film again.

Though, to be fair, I'm almost always eager to watch the film again.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Readathon: October 2016 Edition

Murchie, a fuzzy grey poodle, rests his chin on a white Kobo with the red cover of Wicked As She Wants on its screen. His face obscures most of the image as he gazes directly at the viewer.
Hey there, reader.

Friends, Dewey's 24-Hour Readathon is today! Right now! This very moment!

(Unless you're reading this long after October 22nd, 2016. Welcome, hypothetical future person.)

I've blocked off the whole day and plan to spend it reading my arse off, with or without wee Murchie on my lap. As per usual, I'll update this master post every so often, with the most recent update at the top. This time around, I'll also use the stopwatch app on my iPod to track exactly how much time I spend reading; a nifty tip I picked up during the 24 In 48 Readathon this past summer.

I'll be manning the Readathon Instagram account from Hour Fifteen on, too, so make sure you stop by there and say hi! There'll be pictures of Murchie and some no pressure prompts for them what wants 'em, plus reposts of many of your awesome pictures.

I don't have a formal stack this time around, but I'd love to finish the last two novellas in THE ASSASSIN'S BLADE by Sarah J. Maas, get through a couple of library comics, and read early-2000s X-Men until I absolutely cannot stand the drama any longer.

Hour Twenty-One

This'll be my last blog update, y'all. I'm about ready to tuck up in bed and read X-Men comics until I pass out.

The coffee I mentioned last update? Didn't work very well.

Neither did KISS OF THE ROSE PRINCESS. I borrowed three volumes to test the series out, and I'll be returning two of them unread. Sigh.

At least I've still got the X-Men, right?

Time Spent Reading: 10 hours, 50 minutes

Currently Reading:

  • more X-Men comics

Things I've Read:

  • "The Assassin and the Underworld" by Sarah J. Maas
  • Smoke and Shadow, Part I by Gene Luen Yang and Gurihiru
  • Smoke and Shadow, Part II by Gene Luen Yang and Gurihiru
  • Smoke and Shadow, Part III by Gene Luen Yang and Gurihiru
  • about 1/5 of STAKED by Kevin Hearne
  • UNCANNY X-MEN #404-426
  • "The Assassin and the Empire" by Sarah J. Maas

Things I've Eaten:

  • one bowl of Minions cereal
  • three cups coffee
  • I don't even know how many glasses of water. More than sixteen. Fewer than thirty-five.
  • two bowls of corn puffs (ie, generic popcorn twists)
  • three crumbled tofu tacos on freshly made tortillas, complete with corn, black beans, edamame, lime crema, and Brussels sprout slaw
  • one caramel latte
  • two bananas
  • a third of a Bubblegum Brawler from Crim City Soda (big mistake, everything is terrible, oh gods why)
  • a bowl of spicy Kraft Dinner (which is the only Kraft Dinner worth buying)

Other Activities:

  • breakfast
  • familial eyeglass maintenance
  • basic canine upkeep
  • lunch
  • staring into the void
  • general internetting
  • Instagram monitoring
  • additional void staring

Music I've Listened To:

  • a little bit of rock radio
  • FUNHOUSE - P!nk (x2)

Mini Challenges Completed:

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Further Gushing Re: Tremontaine Season Two

Banner for Tremontaine Season Two, featuring the title against a black background. To the right is a white silhouette depicting two people swordfighting, flanked by the red silhouettes of a crowned swan and a dragon.

The new season of TREMONTAINE began yesterday, and I’ve made no secret of how excited I am. Continually tweeting my feels is all very well and good, but I wanted to provided y’all with a somewhat longer list of five reasons I’m jumping up and down in delight over this serial:

1. The Duchess is back

I love Diane de Tremontaine so. Frickin’. Much. As I said when I reviewed Season Two’s premiere episode, she’s a fabulous and compelling character because she acts in her own self interest; a motive female characters are seldom allowed to embrace. She’ll scheme and socialize and sleep her way to the top because it's the best way to promote her personal agenda, and damn how it affects anyone else. And if she can accomplish all her goals without ever letting anyone see how many strings she's pulled, so much the better.

She’s my favourite.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Review: Her Naughty Holiday by Tiffany Reisz

Cover of Her Naughty Holiday. A dark-haired, bearded, shirtless white man stands in front of a lake with a mountain behind it.
Review copy provided by the publisher via NetGalley.

HER NAUGHTY HOLIDAY [Amazon | Kobo | The Book Depository] is the second book in Tiffany Reisz’s trio of holiday romance set around Lost Lake, Oregon, but please don’t think you need to read HER HALLOWEEN TREAT before you can dive into this Thanksgiving-focused offering. The books take place in the same general location and feature characters who’re at least casual acquaintances, but this is a series of standalones. If you’re no longer in a Halloweeny mood but Thanksgiving drama sounds perfect, you can leap in without the slightest reservation.

Clover Greene has just learned her family is set to converge on her place for Thanksgiving. Eep. She can’t stand to spend yet another holiday listening to everyone snark about how she’s still single, so she lets her teenage assistant, Ruthie, con her into asking Ruthie’s father, Erick, to pose as Clover’s fake boyfriend for the day. Clover and Erick have been fighting their attraction for close to a year, and the ruse gives them the perfect excuse to get to know one another better.

Things escalate. Quickly.

And awesomely.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Murchie Plus Books: October 9th to 15th

The premise: I make my tiny dog pose beside every book I read. Sometimes he's really good about holding still and sometimes I have trick him.

The photos: go live on Instagram as I edit them and appear here in digest form every Sunday, with descriptive alt tags and additional commentary.

Not pictured: MOAR X-MEN. I charged on through UNCANNY, with a few stop-overs in X-MAN and GENERATION X, then resumed my UNCANNY/X-MEN rotation once I reached the point where more issues of the latter were available on Marvel Unlimited. I'm back into Chris Claremont's second run on the series now, and I've almost finished rereading the stuff I devoured as a teenager.

A tiny grey poodle, Murchie, lies on a brown cushion. He wears a pink hoodie. Above him, on a glass table, is a hardcover copy of A Torch Against the Night. Its cover depicts two people running through a small tunnel in a massive stone wall.

Murchie flat out refused to pose nicely with A TORCH AGAINST THE NIGHT [Amazon | Kobo], so I put it on the glass coffee table and waited for him to lie down on his pillow stairs. (He injured one of his legs when he was three or four and has had trouble jumping ever since. Conventional doggie stairs scare him, but he's happy to use a couple of pillows piled together for the same purpose.) Victory! Little dude didn't even know he was posing.

This strategy is gonna come in handy in the future.

It breaks my heart to have to tell you I abandoned the book Murchie was so reluctant to sit nicely beside. I loved the hell out of Sabaa Tahir's first offering (AN EMBER IN THE ASHES), but try though I might, I couldn't find the spark with this one. There were a few brief moments where it reminded me of all the reasons I loved its predecessor so very, very much, but for the most part I struggled to connect. Around page 240, I admitted it was never gonna happen and took my bookmark out.

I'll try again after the third book's release, just in case it was a mood thing. If not, I'll take comfort in the fact that AN EMBER IN THE ASHES works well as a standalone in the Robin McKinley vein (ie, there are dangly bits but it's all part of the charm).

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Review: Central Station by Lavie Tidhar

Cover of Central Station, fashioned like a vintage travel poster in pale purple, white, and black. Two spaceships fly past a towering, futuristic structure with several squatter buildings below it. The spaceships trail glitter.
Review copy provided by the publisher via NetGalley

Lavie Tidhar’s CENTRAL STATION [Amazon | Kobo | The Book Depository] centres on a futuristic space port and the surrounding community. Central Station--both the massive structure and the neighbourhood to which it lends its name--lies between Israeli Tel Aviv and Arab Jaffa and is home to a diverse group of people: racially, economically, religiously, and technologically. Prominent families, notorious groups, and established social fixtures abound, and the story herein gives everyone plenty of opportunity to hobnob with others (and Others) from across Central Station’s width and breadth.

CENTRAL STATION began life as a series of short stories published in a variety of magazines and anthologies between 2011 and 2014, with two chapters being original to this volume. Tidhar has reworked the stories so they form a novel, but I’d caution you not to expect much in the way of a traditional plot. Proximity and familiarity, not a common goal, draw these characters together. Tidhar isn’t interested in providing the reader with many answers. Instead, his work issues an invitation to consider the many ways people might come together in a futuristic society that’s traveled to the stars but still has firm ties to Earth.