Thursday, January 19, 2017

Review: Anansi Boys

Anansi Boys Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Apparently I just respond differently to Gaiman than most. I was not a fan of American Gods and had no interest to follow that with a second book. That said I love Gaiman's other work and when I took on the 2016 r/Fantasy bingo challenge I needed a non-western mythology book and Anansi Boys popped up. I had no knowledge of Anansi the spider god and was curious if it would be anything like American Gods.

The answer you can see is nope, clearly by my 5 star rating. I loved this book so much; the story, the humor and the characters were great. It wasn't a perfect story and some things seemed a bit to simple or glossed over, but I just didn't care. When I finished this book I was just so glad I had read it.

Review: The Three-Body Problem

The Three-Body Problem The Three-Body Problem by Liu Cixin
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I was ready to rate this higher, but honestly the style of revelation at the end and explanation was to "here are the facts". There was no storytelling or elegance to the conclusion and that felt a bit harsh as a reader. I think this is a 3.5 for me, but I did like the story and curious to see where it goes so rounded up for that.

The attraction to the game by Wang was also a little shorted by the story. Why he was so attracted to it left largely implied and not stated.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Review: Bloodline

Bloodline Bloodline by Claudia Gray
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I originally gave this a 4 star rating, but after some review I really have to drop it to a 3. The story is on so many spots just not very good. There are so many moments I honestly said. "really?" or wished the main investigation would take a back seat to revealing who the enemy really was.

That said I felt the telling of Leia was really well done which is why I leaned to a 4 star. She was the Leia I remembered and a good step for how she was before TFA. She was everything that I wanted in the older Leia.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

The Last Mortal Bond Review

The Last Mortal Bond by Brian Staveley
(Chronicle of the Unhewn Thrown #3)

★★★★☆

The final book the in the Chronicles of the Unhewn Thrown released last year and I finally got around to reading it. I have mixed emotions about the book and spoilers will be in this review so caution. My mixed emotions led me to a 3.5 star review, but using Goodreads as a basis I felt the overall ride of the trilogy was worth the bonus to 4 stars.

The first half of the book gives nothing to you if you don't remember what happened in The Emperors Blades or The Providence of Fire. I'll admit it took much of the first third of the book to get my bearings and remember the conclusion to the previous book. After about the midway point you better remember what was happening cause Staveley does not stop for anything.

The first half of the book has some great stories and the characters are much as we remembered them. the political fighting and placement of characters is exceptional. I felt much of the story involving Gwenna and the Kettral wing and the Eyre were some of the best early on and the chapters I looke forward too most.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Unfinished Games and Final Fantasy XV

I'm not much of a Final Fantasy player, but damn if I wasn't excited for Final Fantasy XV coming to XBox One this past year. It was a modernized JRPG bringing more western elements and looked great. Initial reviews sold me and I purchased the day before release. Initial reviews were right and I really had fun with the early first few hours. Then the press release from game director Hajime Tabata confirmed what early players had found that reviewers might not have. The game wasn't ready yet.

The review was glossed as a fixing bugs in the short term and adding more playable characters in the long term, but stated clearly in the main section was:
Our early plans are to enrich certain aspects of the game, adding gameplay enhancements for Chapter 13, buffing ring magic, etc. We’ll have the specifics of what and when for you at a later date.
"Gameplay(sic) enhancements" was a nice way of saying that this section either failed to do what they wanted or was wrong from the start. Either way the point here is I pretty much dropped off the game. Combined with a Winter game from Overwatch and I had dropped playing FF XV for the rest of 2016 after the fix announcement.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

My Cable Free TV Setup

Last week I discussed how much I was saving by cutting cable and what I was doing to watch TV. I wanted to go into that a bit this week and describe my Family Room TV setup and how I'm watching everything I want to right now. I have three internet ready devices in the room, but one is the Samsung TV itself and I would recommend not using the Samsung smart apps unless you have no other choice.

This setup is attempted to make the use by non "tech" people be as painless as possible. It does include using my Xbox One as the base system so it's centered around that. I would not recommend an Xbox for anyone not interested in the gaming aspect, but on the other hand it's an amazing TV entertainment device, just not worth $300 to someone not ready to use it for gaming.

Xbox One

This is my family room hub and main entertainment device. It was purchased as a gaming device, but the uses for cable cutters grows with each day. Initially this was my Netflix, YouTube and Amazon Prime streaming option in the living room as well as for gaming.

Since then Microsoft has added new features to the device to make it do even more. Last year they added a USB device that attached to a TV antenna and brought local channels to the Xbox. The Xbox includes a guide called the One Guide and shows relevant channels and what's playing. On top of that the Xbox hard drive served as a short term DVR with 30 minutes pause and rewind or fast forward all for no extra charge.

Monday, April 4, 2016

What Opening Day Means to Me

photo credit: Sweet Caroline...BA BA BA via photopin (license)
For those who are newer to my writing I've spent A LOT of time writing about baseball. From Fantasy to the Red Sox to baseball in general. My work has been on my own sites to ESPN (My post on Zack Greinke) to baseball specific sites like The Hardball Times (My post page at HBT). I've written plenty of words on Sabermetrics and argued for far to long with those against using them. That's not what I'm here to discuss today.

As the only organized sport I played growing up, baseball has a very special place to me. I love soccer and hockey too, but baseball is what I know. I have lived and died seasons and become a Boston native early enough to truly watch and feel the release of 86 years of pain. I've watched and rooted for so many it's tough to remember them all.

From the least baseball looking player ever out of West Virginia (John Kruk) and a pitcher who fell off the mound with every pitch and crushed our hearts in the 1993 World Series (Mitch Williams) to a trio of Dominican born players in Boston who ended that drought in Boston 12 years ago already (Pedro Martinez, Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz).

Each Spring (or what ever this is we have right now) we look to our teams and hope for another year of distraction and fun. We expect heart break and anguish, but that never seems to hold us back. We deal with brain dead managers and General Managers who wouldn't know a great signing if it bit him on the ass.