Monday, April 23, 2018

Sword of Fire and Sea by Erin Hoffman

Somehow I still have this book even though most of my others are gone. I tried to read it once before, but didn’t make it past part one of three. I believe I had to be in a California state of mind for it to appeal to me, since the book was written here.

The story starts with a quest. The protagonist, Captain Vidarian Rulorat, is ordered to escort Priestess Ariadel Windhammer to a water temple in the south... But the book does not go how you might think it would.

There are pleasant descriptions, action sequences, magic, world-building, and even some romance. It is definitely a fantasy with some elements of sword and sorcery. It reminds me of a video game story, and I even named some characters in a game after Vidarian and Ariadel.

Sometimes the story feels somewhat disjointed. Every chapter is something new. Furthermore, the prose is verbose and can be hard to follow. However, Sword of Fire and Sea is fun to read, interesting, and I’m going to probably buy book two in the Chaos Knight trilogy. Highly recommended!

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Tea reviews

I haven’t been really reading much anymore; I play video games on Nintendo 2DS as a hobby. However, I might as well use this blog for something, so I’m reviewing a few teas I just got from my grocery store. Tea is a thinking man’s drink and I like it a lot.

First up is Stash Chai Spice. It’s a black tea and it’s pretty spicy. I found it satisfying to drink. It does have a bit of caffeine. The teabag is big and tasted bitter. It kept me up till 2am.

Next is Yogi Bedtime. It contains a lot of herbs and needs to be steeped for 7 minutes. It tasted like a real concoction and put me sleep in about 30 minutes. I need something like this though. Flavor is described as spicy and sweet.

Lastly, Bigelow Benefits: Refresh. Made it after breakfast. It’s a bit spicy but also herbal. It has matcha in it, so it can be a bit more cerebral. I like it and it’s a green tea and I would recommend it.

Tea can be relaxing, stimulating, and even euphoric. I’m hoping to continue enjoying it every day I can and trying more types of tea!

Saturday, May 7, 2016

The Legend of Zelda series is currently my favorite to play!

In some ways I grew up with Zelda because I had Link's Awakening on Gameboy and Ocarina of Time on Nintendo 64.  I only played them about once through and didn't remember too much about them, so replaying them has been really fun.

I played through the original Legend of Zelda on 3DS virtual console. For an NES game, it is really quite amazing! I did use a map to help get through the game, and I've been replaying it for my second time. It really is a classic, and it introduces a standard of gameplay that sets the bar for the rest of the series.

After beating the original, I went on to replay A Link Between Worlds and Phantom Hourglass. Hourglass has great control with the stylus. After all I get tired of pressing buttons with my thumb all day sometimes. The dungeon maps are very good in this game too.

A Link Between Worlds focuses on action, combat, and exploration. It also has a mechanic of wall walking where you merge and become a painting to traverse areas you couldn't otherwise. It shares the same world from A Link to the Past, and that's a game I want to play again sometime as well. Buying and renting items from a new character is how this game gives you equipment. I like it, and you do buy items in other Zelda games, but this takes it too a new level. However, you also find useful items in the dungeons as well. I like it a lot and like the original LoZ, I think it's very replayable.

Now that Ocarina of Time 3D has become a Nintendo Selects game I got it for a good price on the eShop. I've been enjoying re-visiting this game, but I haven't played for a few days. It's fun. Last time I played, I had just finished the Fire Temple. I'll get back to it soon.

On my replay of Link's Awakening, I am pretty far in the game. I'm playing with my original Gameboy cartridge on my GBA SP. I found it fun at the beginning, and I like how it shares some characteristics with the original NES Zelda game, such as the grid-based world and dungeon maps, and the inventory system. It's actually the hardest one I've played so far, and the areas are maze-like. I just beat the 5th dungeon today, and bought the bow and arrows, which was very expensive at 980 rupees. I found a good place to grind for money where the enemies respawn quickly and usually drop rupees.

Since I enjoyed my time with the games in April, I ordered two new to me games in May: The Minish Cap (GBA) and Spirit Tracks (DS).  The Minish Cap is a lot of fun so far, but I can't say much more about it than that yet since I have only beat two dungeons. The Spirit Tracks is like Phantom Hourglass, but instead of a boat, you ride a train. It's cool. The only thing I don't like is that you have to blow into the DS system's microphone a lot, to use a whirlwind item and to play your flute. It's very gimmicky in my opinion. But the pace of the game is pretty good so far.

I'm planning on playing through the ones I haven't finished in the next few months. I'm really enjoying going back to the Legend of Zelda games and playing both old and new ones.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Still reading

I've been reading outside fantasy mostly, although I did start a re-read of the Lord of the Rings, which is a classic fantasy.

I really enjoyed The Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick and What's Eating Gilbert Grape by Peter Hedges.

I'm taking a trip home so I hopefully will find some books to read in my old room.

Hope everyone is having a good year and finding some good books to read! Cheers.

Friday, February 15, 2013


I read a few good books this past year...

The Lord of the Rings. I enjoyed this tale and I think it's one of the most classic of fantasy novels. Still holds up marvelously.

King Arthur and His Knights by Howard Pyle. This was fun, written at the beginning of the 20th century, so it was written with a very archaic style.

Those are the main things I read. The Lord of the Rings kept me occupied for a long time. It was epic.

I am probably going to try re-reading The Name of the Wind soon.

Otherwise, I have been playing my Nintendo 3DS and might start a site to write about that.

I started reading the final Wheel of Time book, but I had to turn it back in to the library. I might try to take it out again because it is the last I might as well find out the ending.

Hope everyone is having a happy new year!!!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Speculative Fiction Challenge 2011

This post is to follow up on the Speculative Fiction Challenge 2011, and show what I read in 2011.

The definition of speculative fiction is an "umbrella term". Especially considering this quote from the challenge:

For this first attempt at a reading challenge, I'm not going to be strict! Speculative fiction for me includes anything from the realm of science fiction, fantasy or horror - doesn't matter what subgenre, or whether it is tie-in fiction. I'm aiming to make this as inclusive as possible.

When I first signed up, 6 months late, I didn't initially include graphic novels in my first count. However, I have decided to include one in my final count - I think graphic novels can fairly count as speculative fiction. I also counted Hawkwood and the Kings as two, because it is an omnibus of two books, of at least 300 pages each.

It was somewhat stressful to come up with this list because I didn't read as much as I would have liked. I wanted to do better, and I hope to improve next year.

Here's what I read:

1. Watchmen
2. Spellwright
3. Speculative Horizons
4. Hawkwood's Voyage (Hawkwood and the Kings Book 1)
5. The Heretic Kings (Hawkwood and the Kings Book 2)
6. The Silent Land
7. Leviathan Wept
8. The Wise Man's Fear
9. The Executioness
10. The Alchemist
11. Game of Thrones (re-read)
12. Agatha H and the Airship City

The Executioness and The Alchemist

The Executioness and the Alchemist are shared world novellas by Tobias Buckell and Paolo Bacigalupi. I read them months apart, and the setting is still very memorable. The world is being encroached by a dangerous and deadly bramble, which is compounded by the use of magic. Hence, any magic use affects the bramble, so it only must be used in the direst of circumstances.

These books stand alone, although perhaps the most interesting part is the shared world, which adds depth and credibility to the stories. Published by Subterrannean Press, these novellas are very thought-provoking and readable. Recommended.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Agatha H and the Airship City

Agatha H and the Airship City: A Girl Genius Novel by Phil and Kaja Foglio, is a novel based on the first three books in their series of graphic novels, Girl Genius, originally published as a web comic on

The premise is a world of gaslamp fantasy, which is like steampunk with a zany twist of mad science and otherworldliness. The main character is Agatha, a girl who is an assistant at a lab for mad scientists, aka Sparks. There are a lot of minor characters and I find that they are all rather unique.

I find it hard not to compare the novel to the graphic novels, upon which it is based. However, I will say that it does stand alone, so there really is no need to compare and contrast. There is a lot of contrast though, and it shows that a cartoon, or comic, is really only a way to tell a story, and that story can be transposed to another medium successfully.

The language is very good; it is both readable, with a large vocabulary, and stylistic choices. I enjoy hearing the Jagerkin talk, who speak with a certain dialect that is spelled out so you can imagine their accent.

Very early on I noticed something that seemed like deus ex machina, and in my opinion this can be a good plot device when used tastefully, especially if it has been foreshadowed. I know deus ex machina is sometimes seen as a negative thing, but I'm not criticizing anything here. The plot is actually refreshing and original. Highly recommended!

You can find out more on the official site for the book at

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

What's On My Plate

This post is about books that are "on my plate" so to speak. These ones are next on the list, because these are books that I actually requested and/or won from publishers/blogs.

I am sharing them with you so that you will know some of the books I may be reviewing...and reading... Well, I will most likely read them first.

They are, from left to right:

Sword of Fire and Sea, by Erin Hoffman (published by Pyr)
Kings of Eternity (published by Solaris)
The Black Chalice by Steven Saville (published by Abaddon)
Agatha H and the Airship City by Phil & Kaja Foglio (published by Night Shade Books)
Never Knew Another by J.M. McDermott (published by Night Shade Books)
The Desert of Souls by Howard Andrew Jones (published by St. Martin's Press)
The Falling Machine by Andrew P. Mayer (published by Pyr)

These, as well as the ones I won from the Best SFF Novels of the Decade Readers Poll, are all fair game for reviews. So that's what's on my plate, my metaphysical platter of reading materials.

Also I already have started Sword of Fire and Sea. Erin Hoffman knows lots of big words.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

The Wise Man's Fear

The Wise Man's Fear by Patrick Rothfuss is the sequel to The Name of the Wind. I feel like it might be kind of hard to review because it's a sequel… and so you've either read the first in the series, or you haven't. And if you've read The Name of the Wind and you liked it, chances are, you've already read The Wise Man's Fear. So I am going to try to avoid preaching to the choir in this review.

I really took my time with this book. I read it over like four months. It just didn't grab me the way the Name of the Wind did, where I just couldn't put it down. And from my perspective, for that reason, The Wise Man's Fear wasn't as much of a page turner as The Name of the Wind. 

Why? I think it's partially because there are so many side-stories. I didn't get a sense of reading through Kvothe's daily life. It was almost like reading about him going on vacation. Fortunately, I do feel like the author knew what he was doing because it resolves quite nicely.

Pat is remarkably transparent about his writing process. He wrote the whole story through first, and then came the process of revising, editing, and shaping it into books. I really want the whole story because that's how it was conceived. The endings of both books are anticlimactic. Of course, this is fine because there is more to come, the third book in the trilogy tentatively titled The Doors of Stone.

Despite longish pacing compared to The Name of the Wind, The Wise Man's Fear is a very entertaining book that definitely has its moments of transcendence. There are times when I really, really felt that Pat was being subversive about the fantasy genre, which is part of what he wants to do. When I caught onto it, I was like, yeah that's funny. And of course, there is a lot of excellently clever language, and I noticed the writing was often poetic as well. 

Personally, my favorite part of the book is when Kvothe is in school. That seems to be the most interesting and important to the main story, while he does become a legend from his other exploits. I can't wait to read book 3 because I really hope it pans out into the story that lives up to the legend he is supposed to be. In other words, I hope Pat doesn't take the idea of subverting the fantasy genre too seriously. Patrick Rothfuss is a remarkable writer, and I know anything he does will be well worth reading. I can't wait to see how he continues telling this story.