New Year, New Books

A lot of people will make lists full of self help books around this time of year. And those books can be great, but at lot of times they aren’t really that life changing so instead of filling the little free library with books that might slightly changing someone’s point of view I decided to think of any book fiction or non-fiction that drastically changed how I go about things about life and the world around me. No need to count down from ten, because this short and sweet list won’t keep you long!

More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera

You know how titles are meant to encapsulate the whole book’s theme? Boil everything down to a moment or message? Nothing does that as well as More Happy Than Not. It’s a beautiful and sad book about identity and reminds me of a YA version of The Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind. But unlike the story, I actually repeat this title back to myself on rough days. I remind myself if I’m more happy than not, then my troubles are just troubles. There isn’t anything that needs fixing.

The Dictator’s Handbook

Did I give you whiplash with that sharp turn? This non-fiction book subtitled Why Bad Behavior is Almost Always Good Politics is something I think back on a lot these days. Every time something weird and “un-presidented” happens I think about the stats laid out in this book and what it can mean for (us). If you can’t afford a copy right now, check out these two video summary of sorts: Rules for Rules and Death & Dynasties.  No matter what party you are, no matter what country you are from this book will change how you view political power and how those with it gain it and often keep it.

This chart stuck with me the most after reading the book. Maybe it was timing, maybe it was wishful thinking. Either way I find it such a simple and interesting stat collection. Other gems in the book is discussing how the Art of War shouldn’t be your reference for non-war things.

Review: Culture’s Skeleton by Adam P. Knave

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Culture’s Skeleton by Adam P. Knave

First off, the paperback is such a small, cute, and perfect size.

Culture’s Skeleton has the vibe of Hitchkicker’s Guide to the Galaxy while having its own voice. Things in Mur work by their own rules and Mur is really its own character. A lesser writer might have made characters from different time periods tropes of that era, but instead readers get a feeling of how people are connected despite where (or when) they are from. If you are looking for something with a lot of style and heart look no further!

Nemesis Series Review 1 & 2!

Today I’m reviewing two books! Dreadnought and Sovereign both by April Daniels. Here’s a quick overview of the series before I give you my thoughts on each.

About The Book: Danny Tozer has a problem: she just inherited the powers of Dreadnought, the world’s greatest superhero.

Until Dreadnought fell out of the sky and died right in front of her, Danny was trying to keep people from finding out she’s transgender. But before he expired, Dreadnought passed his mantle to her, and those secondhand superpowers transformed Danny’s body into what she’s always thought it should be. Now there’s no hiding that she’s a girl.

Dreadnought’s murderer—a cyborg named Utopia—still haunts the streets of New Port City, threatening destruction. If Danny can’t sort through the confusion of coming out, master her powers, and stop Utopia in time, humanity faces extinction.

Dreadnought

That’s it, that’s my whole blackout poetry inspired review for Dreadnought. Kidding! This book shines by interweaving own voice experiences with a world where a kid picks up the mantle of a famous superhero. It also has the worst bad guys in any story I’ve seen in a very long time. There’s nothing redeemable about them, but since their motivations are so every day I found myself rooting for their downfall even harder.

sovereign

Dreadnought is back! I normally care most about the plot in sequels since when continuing a story the story is a really important factor. But here, I cared more about how Dreadnought was doing. And that answer makes up the majority of the book. It’s also nice that book 2 showed more community issues giving us a bigger picture of both the superhero and transgender world. There were several lines in this book that were simply brilliant and I stopped to think only a thoughtful author like April Daniel could have pulled them off. Villians continue to be the ~worst~ but to my delight, we also get another trans superhero, Kinetiq, who I love dearly.

I don’t want to spoil anything, but I’m pretty happy how this book ended and I’ll be among the first to nervously and hopefully read a book 3 when we get it.

As a series, I give these two ★★★★½ ! I’d suggest this series for anywho who has ever even vaguely enjoyed superheroes, burnt out on the “trend” or not this story has something unique and powerful to offer.

Assassin’s Creed Rewind and Review

If I said I was a fan of Assassin’s Creed series since the beginning, while technically true,  it would be misleading. I stopped playing after Assassin’s Creed 3. I’m all about those modern Assassin’s and I was utterly convinced that Ubisoft was throwing that plot line away. Add in the release of Blackflag and my dislike for the boats in AC3 and it became the first title in the series I missed. I played Watch Dogs and enjoyed it more than most, so I likely could have been convinced to come back the following year. But then…

In retrospect, this was a bigger fuss than was warranted. But, at the time there was a joke of ‘when will my love of [fandom] come back from war’ which summed up my feelings about the series.

In 2015, I missed Syndicate for no reason besides I was just still unhappy. Ubisoft had let me known plenty. But it was getting praise for its inclusion of women and had the first trans character in the series.  (And later learned also its first bisexual character.) The following year Pulse happened, and I was watching E3 trying to process what was happening to my community. I was hoping someone would say something because when bad things happen I feel like the world needs to take a moment. And it rarely does.

Ubisoft’s conference comes on and everyone was wearing rainbow ribbons, and they take a second to express their own heartbreak for the community. And since they had been working on adding LGBTQ characters before this, it was enough. It was something. 

Come November, Watch Dogs 2 has another trans character who has an even bigger role, rainbow flags everywhere, you can visit gay clubs and flirt with whatever gender of your choosing, you can buy pride shirts and wear them for the whole game.  The last four things are really minor, but WD2 is literally the only game that does that and it was nearly healing to see cut screens with PRIDE written on his damn shirt for half the game.

Because of this, I think I should go back. 2013 wasn’t the greatest time and I kept thinking how about an abusive person got an Assassin’s Creed because of me. I still think of Assassin’s Creed as something that was in the past and lost. But one thing the queer community always does is reclaim things so since Unity seemed to better themselves I gave it a shot and played Syndicate.

And ADORED it. I cannot fully express my love of Syndicate. It honestly might be my favorite in the whole series. If you quit Assassin’s Creed, play this one. If it doesn’t win you over nothing will. (At least nothing that is currently out). Everyone’s character feels real, and none of the customization mechanics feel clunky for the first time. The DLC has Darwin, and you can go ghost hunting with Dickens!

Working backward I played Unity next. And oh boy, Unity was utterly and completely mismarketed. They pushed the multiplayer too much (which I never even got to play because no one else was playing Unity in 2017). Everyone expected a French company to tell us their history, and Ubisoft does not. Almost weirdly doesn’t. But it does do an incredibly good job at making all the actions a bit in the gray.

Help Napoleon today, and you help the people.
Help Napoleon tomorrow, and you are helping a tyrant.

With patches, it’s no longer buggy and even though the controls are not as good as Syndicate it says a lot without giving you history or a ton of lore. Unity is about being a person living in a revolution. The hope that you can help, the struggle of not being about to save everyone and focused a lot on personal choices for a game that isn’t choose your own adventure. I had expected angsty romance and Templar apologist plot lines from the debut trailers, what I got was something truly honest about activism and chillingly timely for 2017. It also includes among the best speeches I’ve heard in my life.

The Creed of the Assassin’s Brotherhood teaches us that nothing is forbidden to us. Once, I thought that meant we were free to do as we would. To pursue our ideals, no matter the cost. I understand now. Not a grant of permission. The Creed is a warning. Ideals too easily give way to dogma. Dogma becomes fanaticism. No higher power sits in judgement of us. No supreme being watches to punish us for our sins. In the end, only we ourselves can guard against our obsessions. Only we can decide whether the road we walk carries too high a toll.

We believe ourselves redeemers, avengers, saviors. We make war on those who oppose us, and they in turn make war on us. We dream of leaving our stamp upon the world…even as we give our lives in a conflict that will be recorded in no history book. All that we do, all that we are, begins and ends with ourselves.

At this point, I’m pretty much on an Assassin’s Creed high so for the first time pick up an Assassin’s Creed book. I’ve always been interested in them but skipped the because they were mostly game retellings. That is until, Assassin’s Creed Heresy.

It follows Templars which is a huge red flag for me, but it’s Joan of Arc. She is like my Templar expectation always. Like Unity, the historical parts are set in France and it does a very good job of explaining very complex motivations in revolutionary times without excusing the harm that can be done.

I had worried it would be a straight dude pining over Joan but again like Unity does not cheapen its female characters by doing so. I think this was largely because of the author choice. However, my one real complaint is the ending is weak and heteronormative. With those two points aside it does a brilliant job picking up from Unity. It mentions both Arno, the sword of Eden as well as showing an important Templar shake up we might see in future games.

Having unfairly judged all of the above, I decided to go all the way back pick up Blackflag. I figure the boats are better, I love the series as much as I always have. I’m excited to play it before AC: Origins and just have an Assassin’s Creed filled year.

And…. I absolutely do not understand the appeal. At all. I know that’s a nearly unheard of opinion. Even more so from me who at least decently liked nearly every Assassin’s Creed anything but… I can’t empathize with someone who is driven by profit for so much of the game. I could have gotten on the “He’s doing it because he can” boat if they had literally given me anyone besides a straight white dude who skips town on his wife. I’m only sorry that it apparently takes so long for Edward to be a decent person.  ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

If you want to see Shaun and Rebecca, play Syndicate.
If you want to know about sages, read the Assassin’s Creed comics.

They star Charlotte de la Cruz a Latina modern assassin and have a whole range of other modern assassin’s, an arc with a gay man who wants to avenge his boyfriend, and you see Erudito. I’m not in love with the art style but otherwise, I don’t know what more I could want out of them, to be honest. There are 3 trades that are out and a spin off series called Uprising (left) that introduces more people of color.

I’ve also read the short run of Assassin’s Creed Locus which only has four issues. I don’t feel like it’s important to know lore wise, but it includes a disabled animus user and the arc covers why he wants to use the animus which I found both unique to the series and important when talking about ableism as a whole.

In conclusion, if you dropped Assassin’s Creed because of too little focus on modern characters, clunky boat or other mechanics, and lack of diversity. Now’s a pretty good time to pick up what you missed without that brand new sticker price.

 

Phaethon Review

Hackers, fae, and a new breed of corporate greed battle over the future of the human race….

Hacker couple Jack and Rosie crack technology, but the newest device, the Phaethon, isn’t like other phones. The parts are junk, yet it can do the impossible. Through gentle prodding and data theft, they learn it’s powered remotely…by a living creature.

Cracking the Phaethon enters them into a war. Some, like Calthine, the bitter Bogle, are on their side. Others are controlled by a new type of fae; the bosses of the Phaethon corporation, who have steel for eyes and iron for souls. Now, the hackers have to fight creatures they’ve never heard of to save the friends they’ve just made.

Rachel Sharp is an author and lifetime member of the Somewhat Eccentric Creative Persons Club (which she just invented). Her books include the Planetary Tarantella trilogy, as well as the hacker & fae novel Phaethon from Pandamoon Publishing.

Originally from Vermont, she now lives in New York City with her partner, several plants, and her boundless sense of inappropriate humor. At time of writing, she is working on entirely too many projects. The previous statement will be true regardless of time of reading.

She also lives with chronic illness, plays ukulele, and tries to save the planet.

REVIEW ★★★★★
I adore this book. I think it’s cute, it’s sweet, it’s adventurous. It has main characters that I really wish were my friends. Characters so real I feel like I have a chance of meeting them in the great wild that is this urban fantasy hacker filled world. It made watching Finding Bigfoot after reading oddly fun. It’s really a strange and fun book full of tech and creatures.
Do yourself a favor and grab this gem of a book!

Two Reviews Tuesday

During May, Ace Book Club featured Rachel Sharp’s books and since it’s the last day in May I thought I’d bring you my review of the series so far!

This book is one of the realist apocalypse books I might ever have the pleasure of reading. It was at times refreshing, charming in it’s humor, and scary as a reader who is realizing along with Mab that we aren’t so ready for the end of the world. It was both encouraging to see a person react realistically to the world going to suck, and unnerving (because that shit is hard.) I also feel like I should re-did just so I can highlight all my favorite jokes, but will be checking out the sequels when they come out!

★★★★★ |  Amazon  |  Goodreads

 

The sequel is  so realistic downloaded a survival app. I wouldn’t say Rachel writes the most realistic characters in the sense that you view them the same as you would your living friends, more so like an artist who makes such a realistic painting that the only word that captures both the true to life and work of art qualities is “masterpiece”. I’d definitely buy this book and maybe a wilderness guide.  Even better than the first.

★★★★★ | Amazon | Goodreads