Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Backseat Gamer: Mirror's Edge Catalyst


Backseat Gamer: Mirror's Edge Catalyst

Ohh, here's a subject I haven't reviewed in a while, a video game!  In case if you've forgotten in that time, the point of this section is for me to review video games that I haven't actually played.  Because I'm more of a video game voyeur then anything else, when a new game comes along I'm usually watching my wifey play it. That's the case with this game, and even though I wasn't the active party, I watched the whole game and loved it!

What's it about?

In the distant future the world is now a utopia of business and clean solid colored walls. Everyone works for one company or another and it's all run by the Conglomerate, enforced by a group called Kruger Sec. Faith is a member of a group of runners, who work as mail deliverers throughout the city and also as a resistance. While making deliveries she must also work to discover the true reason why she was locked up and what happened to her family - more specifically her sister.

Thoughts:

My wifey played through the first Mirror's Edge when it originally came out and we both loved the game.  Not only is the world stunning, but the game play is unique being that it's always in a first person perspective while you're jumping and parkouring through this futuristic landscape.

With the second game, Catalyst, the creative team rebooted the story of the first.  This time the world was a bit different in that it was more clean and more refined, with the plot being told in a slightly more coherent way.  Faith was better defined and the world seemed more open and challenging - especially since you have no option to pick up guns, but you're being chased by people with them on several missions.

That isn't to say there aren't plot holes, mind you.  While Faith's story is told in a better way then the first, there are still noticeable gaps in the storytelling, especially at the end.  Some things are tied up, but it's obvious that the team is expecting to make future games, so there are threads left hanging and there is a noticeable lack of a boss fight all things considered. There's also hints about other characters that make you yearn for DLC with their own side stories.  I know I can't be the only one who wanted to play as Icarus by the end and learn more about Black November and even Bird Man.

In the end it's a great game with a very distinct atmosphere, but it leaves me wanting more.  This can be great if there's going to be another game.  But considering that I know this one wasn't that popular I have a feeling I'm going to be disappointed on that front.

How much did I play?

Ha!  Though I think this game would be stunning in VR, the first person perspective does a great job of getting you as close to that as possible.  I had fun watching her play, but man some of those heights felt way too real.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Books You Should Check Out: Some A**hole In Pajamas Talks About Writing by Xero Reynolds



By far, one of the best things about having awesome author friends is finding out about their new projects and getting to be one of the firsts to preorder something when it's coming out!

We met Xero at Anime Iowa a couple years ago.  He's a good friend, great inspiration and I love hearing his view on a lot of creative minded things, especially world building and the characters he creates. So when this book was announced, aw hell, you know I already have my copy preordered!

You can preorder yours here and even read the first chapter for free!  Check it out and get your copy.  And while you're at it, attach it a real set of googly eyes for endless entertainment ^__^


Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Review: Bingo Love (Comic)

What's it about?


Hazel and Mari met at church bingo one night and in that moment started a friendship and love that went against their times and parents' beliefs.  Sadly, it never happened. Least not until history repeated itself and they met again at the bingo parlor many years later.

Thoughts?


In the world of queer stories, there's a lot of tropes and cliches that we're used to hearing, especially when it's dealing with the 'good ole days' when we weren't accepted (could go on about how that crap is still happening, but you get the point). While this comic isn't hugely new in that area, it does bring in diverse characters we're not used to seeing in these situations and is definitely worth reading for a cute story that gets you right in the feels.

The characters are sweet and easy to fall for, each drawn with their personality in mind and it shows! There wasn't anyone I disliked, and even those I got mad at throughout the story had their reasons and their reactions were justified. A good portion of this story feels so authetic and real, as if I were hearing it from someone who actually experienced it, and that adds to the comic in so many ways. Not only does it have great art but the writing is top notch!

The comic leaves you aching for more story, but not because anything is left out.  Instead the short narrative reemphasizes all the time the two didn't have together due to their parents and societial expectations and that hits hard. Keeping the story short doubles down on that feeling and makes it hit even closer to home. It's almost impossible not to root for these two ladies and their love, especially knowing how long it's taken them to get it. And it's one of those where I would love to read more, but there doesn't need to be more.  It's perfect at the length it is.


Final thoughts:


Pick up this comic.  Seriously.  Pick it up and share it with your friends.  We need more positive queer stories out there like this because it's so sweet. It's worth a read and a share, and probably a read again once you're done with those tissues.

Where can I get it?


We got ours through the official Kickstarter, but there are ways you can get it too!
Amazon Link: https://www.amazon.com/Bingo-Love-OGN-Tee-Franklin/dp/1534307508/

Also, ask your local comic book shop!  It comes out in February 2018, so go now and ask them to order it in!

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Review: Justice League (movie)



What it's about?

After the death of Superman at the hands of Lex Luther and Zod, the world has lost its hope. Batman is convinced something bigger is coming but his attempts to bring together a team are failing. Now that bigger attack is coming and what few people he has managed to gather are not prepared to stand alone. 

Thoughts?

Full transparency, I hated Batman V Superman and I know I'm not alone.  I honestly have had no love for any of the movies DC has put out recently (animated or not) with the exception of Wonder Woman.  I did like Man of Steel, but mostly because it broke the Superman mold for me and made him interesting to watch - to the detriment of what most think makes Superman who he is.  So to say I wasn't expecting much from this movie is an understatement.

I was pleasantly surprised. 

Now, by no means is Justice League a master piece, far from it. At it's core it's a fun movie to shut your brain off and watch, and the storytelling and action actually makes it quite easy to do that.  I found myself having a good time and enjoying the movie, even if there were narrative issues throughout.

The beginning is quite choppy, with -  I swear - 20 different beginnings to the film which weren't needed. However once that time has passed the movie is easy to like. Joss Whedon's talent for writing engaging dialog shows throughout the entire movie and makes the characters easy to like and get along with.  It especially shows with Flash and Aquaman and their senses of humor. They were easily the best parts of the movie, but honestly all the characters got a moment, even if it was small. 

The characters we already know going in from previous movies had their stories rounded out and expanded, while the newer characters were introduced with just enough to make them just as interesting. Even the big bad, who under performed a bit, still got much more build up and time then in some Marvel movies. Steppenwolf was kept very cut and dry and for once only hinted at what might come after him, rather then rushing forward with too many villains like some other films (I'm looking at you Batman v Superman).

In the world of DC attempting to catch up to Marvel, this really isn't the train wreck I was expecting to see. A lot of the stuff I did like beyond the above is more spoilery so I'll stay away from it for those reading.  Still I would recommend seeing this movie and not going in with such a fatalistic attitude as the previous movies may have given you.  This feels like a new start for DC, and if they do focus more on the single movies and crafting the story as they say they're going to now, we may yet get some more films that give us exactly what we want.

Oh, though you should know there's a mid credit stinger and one at the end and both are worth watching. 

Final thoughts:

Justice League oddly gives me hope for future DC movies. I know they've stated they plan to move away from their extended universe and I'm all for this, but this movie shows they can still make entertaining stories that aren't just a royal mess. So maybe the ones they've already announced have a bit more promise then I thought. 

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Review: American Horror Story: Roanoke


What's it about?

One of the creepiest true stories in history is that of the Roanoke Colony that up and disappeared, leaving all their belongings and only the word 'Croatoan' behind.  In current times a family has purchased an old farm nearby in the hopes of starting over, only to find that the farm is haunted by the missing colony members.  They manage to make it out alive and now are telling everything that happened to them, via a reality confession show with very realistic reenactments.

Thoughts

American Horror Story is one of my favorite current tv shows and this season shows no sign of stopping. I love the variety of stories and characters and how they manage to capture different pieces of fear and use them against the audience.

This series follows the trend I'm used to with this show.  Along with a new and interesting story, the creators have also decided to try another form of story telling: reality tv. By using only footage caught on camera by reality show cast members, 'actors' and cell phone footage, the show treats you to a very unique story.

Every season the story telling style changes and I suppose it shouldn't be surprising that they would eventually touch reality TV.  The narrative style almost simulates a google search, specifically my own when I find a story that's super interesting and devour the entire internet to find everything I can about it.  The footage does the same, showing you piece by piece and letting you piece it together.  In the end the story is choppy and messy and a little hard to follow, but since it reminds me of myself, I really love it.

What's actually really nice about this season is you're introduced to everything via the reality show so you don't see the actual ghosts until halfway through the season and oddly that makes them scarier.  Because you never hear the actual ghosts talk and when they do finally show up you are already scared of them and as creepy as Kathy Bates is, the actual Butcher is worse.

My favorite character this season has to be Lee, the real Lee.  I didn't like her at first, but when the actual Lee took a more active role in the story she grew on me.  I loved seeing her move from being the victim to the hero of the story - if you could call it that. Also, while Angela Bassett was awesome, I loved Adina Porter for her range and how easy it was to identify with her and what she was experiencing.

I do have to say I was disappointed with Lady Gaga's role with this season.  Sadly she wasn't in the season that much due to her tour and album, so her part was quite small. What little there was of her character left me hungry for more.  She played the original supreme witch (connecting back to Coven) and I would have loved to see more of her character then a couple flashbacks and a few flashes.  I'm not sure how more of her story would have fit in overall, but I can't help wanting it.

The most disappointing part of the series was the Polk family. The stereotypical hillbilly family, they provided a second threat to the main characters for daring to live on that land.  What made them interesting was that they had ties to The Butcher and her ghost army which allowed them to survive - and yet they were also saddled with the standard inbreeding, druggie, stupid and mentally impaired cliches that fill the horror genre.  It made them uninteresting and boring and honestly seemed a bit below the amazing writing I'm used to on this series.  Also their need to have cameras everywhere became a tired gimmick plot device to keep the series going.  While a single YouTube video was used toward the end with the death threat, I wish they'd peppered that in throughout as a reason why they recorded stuff so it didn't seem so contrived. They didn't seem fully realized and the series just kinda sank there.

Final Thoughts

I very much liked this season and how it tied to the others. While not my favorite, it does stand out for it's depiction of certain characters and how the main antagonists were utilized (those being the ghosts). Now, as usual, I have to wait a year to watch the newest season in one binge sitting. Oh well, worth it.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Books You Should Check Out: Lovesick Gods by Amanda Meuwissen


Heroes aren’t meant to act like their villains—or fall in love with them.

The elements touch everyone on Earth—Fire, Water, even Light—but every so often someone becomes more attuned to their elemental leaning and develops true power. When an evil Elemental known as Thanatos arrived in Olympus City, it saw the rise of its first hero—Zeus. But the death toll caused by defeating Thanatos changed Zeus, who by day is young detective Danny Grant. 

It’s been six months since Thanatos terrorized the city at the start of Lovesick Gods. Danny should be used to his duty behind the mask, but the recent past haunts him. His girlfriend left him, he snaps at the barest provocation, his life feels empty—he needs an outlet, any outlet to pull him out of his depression.

Enter notorious thief Malcolm Cho, the Ice Elemental Prometheus. There was a time when Danny welcomed a fight with Cho, filled with colorful banter and casual flirtations that were a relief compared to Thanatos. Even as a criminal, Cho had recognized the threat Thanatos posed and promised to help Danny stop him, but the day Danny needed Cho, he never showed. Cho was the reason so many people died that day—including Danny’s mother.

Danny decides to teach the man a lesson and fan the fire of their attraction into something more. At worst, he’ll get some no-strings-attached sex out of the deal and finally blow off steam; at best, he’ll get Cho to fall in love with him and then break his heart to spite him. Danny doesn’t expect to fall for Cho in the process, and he certainly can’t predict the much darker threat on the horizon.

Excerpt below Author Info.




About the Author:

Amanda Meuwissen has been writing and posting online for many years, including maintaining the website and blog for the software company Outsell. She is an avid writer and consumer of fiction through film, prose, and video games, and is the author of the paranormal romance trilogy The Incubus Saga and young adult novel Life as a Teenage Vampire. Amanda lives in Minneapolis, MN, with her husband, John, and their two cats.







Excerpt: 

Danny had always assumed Cho’s subtle flirting was just to get a rise out of him. The man mocked him, lied to him, betrayed him. And all that, that got his crank turning? Even when he’d played nice with Danny in the past, he’d just been hoping to bend him over the nearest surface.
Cho wasn’t good or redeemable. When the city needed him, when Danny had needed him, he’d run away and hid, then dared to show his face right after and expected Danny to act like nothing had happened. Cho just wanted to use Danny like everybody else. Even Andre and Lynn wouldn’t look twice at him if he wasn’t Zeus.
Just like them, Cho only saw Danny suit deep, not even skin deep, just leather and lightning. No one cared about Danny Grant. His past relationships proved that. He’d never once been the one to end things; they’d always left him first. Vanessa left because he was too distant; he couldn’t tell her he was an Elemental, and it had only gotten worse after his mother’s death. Before that, his last boyfriend had been sweet and soft and loving, but he couldn’t handle Danny’s intensity.
“Maybe I need someone who isn’t Lightning leaning,” he’d said.
Danny didn’t care what element someone was, but he didn’t want sweet or soft right now. He definitely didn’t want loving. He shouldn’t have to always be the lonely superhero that couldn’t be honest about who he was without putting people in danger.
Cho wouldn’t be in danger. He could take care of himself. Danny wouldn’t have to hide that he was Zeus. He wouldn’t have to hide anything, worry about anything. He could take what he wanted and blow off some of that steam rising steadily within him.
Turning around, he spotted Cho in line, halfway to the counter now. Cho was smooth and handsome and exuded sex appeal. It wasn’t as if Danny was blind to that. This could be everything he needed. And he’d finally get his revenge.


Tuesday, October 3, 2017

New Release: magnifiqueNOIR Book 1: I Am Magical by Briana Lawrence


RELEASE DAY IS HERE! - A message from my wifey:

This time last year I was launching the Kickstarter for this little idea I had about a group of black, queer, magical girls. While the Kickstarter didn’t end up panning out, I told myself that I wouldn’t give up on the idea and that I’d finish the story and release it someday.

Today is that day.

“magnifiqueNOIR” is here and I am so thrilled to be presenting it to everyone!

If you’ve already preordered the book through the Indiegogo or our Etsy shop, you will be receiving it very soon! I got confirmation from UPS that the 15 boxes (yes, 15!) will be at my house this Friday! After that, I’ll be autographing all of them and then giving my post office a nightmare (just kidding, we already talked to them and came up with a plan).

If you haven’t ordered the book yet, now is your chance! Not just the physical copy, but the eBook as well! So here’s Bri’s somewhat comprehensive list of ways to have a little bit of black girl magic in your home, on your Kindle, and more important: in your hearts (boo Bri that was cheesy).

  1. The super special awesomely autographed copy! Follow the link here to get a physical copy of the book autographed by yours truly! We have a limited amount of numbers before we order batch #2 of the book in time for fall season conventions! http://etsy.me/2wgOepY
  2. The amazing Amazon physical copy! While it doesn’t come with my autograph, it is discounted for a limited time, and hey, free shipping through Prime is always nice! http://a.co/iLjp1os
  3. The magically fantastic eBook copy! Because who doesn’t want their electronic reading device to come packed with black girl magic? http://a.co/eTKiHSf
  4. Conventions! I’ll have a list of them up soon, but this Saturday, I’ll be at MSP Fall ComiCon at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds, so if you’re local, you can come and get a copy of the book from me in person!
  5. Don't forget we have prints and a bunch of items with the girls on it. All of these can be found at our etsy store: http://snowtigra.etsy.com

Now comes the next part: promotion. If you are absolutely in love with the book, talk about it online! Use the hashtag #magnifiqueNOIR to share your love for these girls. Take pictures of your book/eBook, share this post everywhere, and definitely, most definitely, definitely definitely definitely LEAVE A REVIEW when you’re done reading! Let’s show the world that black girls with magical powers are spectacular!

As always, thank you from the bottom of my chubby black queer girl heart for all the support. When I came up with this idea last March, I had no idea it would grow so much. There may have been some hiccups along the way, but we’re here now, and you all are truly magical :)