What’s New — September 2017

I believe I’ve officially been writing these “What’s New” posts for two years now! I started them because I really wanted to have something consistent on the homepage of my blog, and I thought it would be fun to have a monthly check-in that was a little more personal than my more topical posts. For anybody who reads these every month (thanks. by the way!), you are probably sick of hearing me talk about my writing goals, exercise goals, and crazy video game backlog every month. But it’s a really fun post for me to write. Plus, if I ever get bogged down with real life (like I have been lately) and fail to write many blog posts in a month, I know that at least I’ll do this one, and I’ll feel good about it. =)

game-of-thrones-night-king-featured.jpgLast month I started exercising more, ran a 5K in super-hot weather (for me, anyway!), tried some Hellblade with my boyfriend, played the new episode of Telltale’s second season of Batman, went to a music festival, and watched the most intense season of Game of Thrones ever. My friends/family are placing bets on who is going to make it to the end of the show versus who’s gonna die. So the month was busy and really perfect that way. I had just enough energy to enjoy it all, and lots of memories were made!

Now that September is here, I would normally be in full-on fall mode. I go crazy for cooler weather, peppermint drinks, holiday music — all that goofy stuff that comes in autumn and winter. But this month I’m taking a trip to a Hawaii, so I feel more like I’m gonna be closing the summer with a bang. I’m excited to go somewhere I’ve never been before, and a tropical vacation sounds like the ideal way to forget about the rest of the world for awhile and decompress. I want to be like a puffer fish and deflate myself.

Other things I’m excited about:

Destiny 2 — Like so many others, I played the original Destiny to death. I love that game, but I just ran out of things to do. Which means I’m so, so ready for Destiny 2 and all the improvements it may bring. Warlock mode!

mackenzie-davis-halt-and-catch-fire.jpgHalt and Catch Fire — This is one of my favorite shows ever. The first season was a little cheesy in spots, but season 2 hooked me. It’s 4th and final season has just started, and I’m excited to see how everything wraps up with these characters I’ve come to really care about. Cameron Howe especially is one of the most interesting depictions of someone who is a true creator — artistic, genuine, brutally honest, a little self-involved, egotistical but also super vulnerable about her work. Plus, being set in the 80’s (and now very early 90’s) is a fun nostalgia trip with some great music, and I love exploring early online chats, gaming, and the birth of the internet through the characters’ jobs and pet projects. If you haven’t watched the show, I highly recommend it. (Feel free to skip season 1 if it’s not your bag.)

Cooking — Last month I tried to eat healthier, and a big part of that was finding a couple of recipes that fit my diet (and that were also easy to make). I always find that I feel best when I am eating a lot of pure, low-carb foods — not totally Whole30 or keto, but sort of like their casual cousins. Who let me eat a burrito and a slice of cake every weekend. So I found a really easy recipe for coconut shrimp stew that I made three times, which pairs perfectly with a crisp white wine since I am also totally training to be a wine snob someday. Now I’m looking for more tasty recipes, and I have to say, after trying Blue Apron for awhile, I’m finding it a lot easier and more interesting to make up my own meals! (Blue Apron is awesome, but you’re pretty restricted in what they send you, and the recipes can be surprisingly involved. They usually took me at least 40 minutes.)

Novel Writing — I’m still doing that. Not much else to say, but it’s coming along and really fun when I get in the flow.

Other than that, I have Uncharted: The Lost Legacy and Undertale on my list of video games I’d like to play soon. I don’t know whether I’ll get to them this month or not, but I hope to play them before the year’s out! (At my pace, that means I’d better get started ASAP.) I’m also still playing Persona 5, which is one of those games that is super satisfying to sink many hours into at a time… but it’s so crazy-long, I don’t have any goal in mind of when I’ll finish it. I’ll probably be playing it on and off for months, and I’m totally cool with that.


What are you guys up to this month? Are there any new video games coming out you’re excited about? I also don’t know what movies are out this month, so I need recommendations!

— Ashley

Getting to Know the Witcher in “The Last Wish”

At its heart, The Last Wish is a series of monster stories. The first book in Andrzej Sapkowski’s Witcher series (which CD Projekt RED’s video games are based on), it’s not so much a novel as a line-up of short stories that depict Geralt of Rivia taking on monster-hunting contracts. It feels like reading dark fairy tales, similar to The Bloody Chamber, and the reason is that the monsters aren’t all crazed animals or mythical beasts — they are usually regular men, women, and children who have been cursed.

I read the book a few years ago, when I first got into The Witcher video game series. After hearing that the series is going to be made into a Netflix show, I got onto a Witcher kick and decided to re-read The Last Wish and then continue with the novels that follow. I purchased the audiobook, which is excellent, although I think I prefer reading rather than listening to this series due to the depth of the conversations and world-building. This is a book full of details you don’t want to miss.

Continue reading Getting to Know the Witcher in “The Last Wish”

Reading “American Gods”: The Longest Road Trip Ever

This past month I finally read a Neil Gaiman novel. I’ve been wanting to read his work forever, as he’s a sort of mythic figure in nerd culture for his comic books, his work on Doctor Who, and his fantastical stories and books. I know a lot of people who are huge fans, so hearing that his novel American Gods was being made into a Starz TV series, I settled in to explore what might be the most famous work from Gaiman.

American Gods poses a fascinating idea: What if pagan gods were trying to survive in modern-day America? Immigrants would bring their beliefs from their original countries to the United States, and the gods would survive through people’s belief — however long that lasts.

So what if the goddess Bilquis (the Queen of Sheba) — a divine being who eats men alive as they worship her during lovemaking — lived in the United States today? And how would the ancient Egyptian gods fare, if they made their livings as modern undertakers? The idea that their enemies would be today’s media and technology — the things we American are currently obsessed with — manifests into exactly those kinds of new gods, like Media and the Technical Boy. So a war is brewing between the old gods and the new.

Continue reading Reading “American Gods”: The Longest Road Trip Ever

Why I ♥ “Cosmic Star Heroine”

This past month I have fallen in love with a little game called Cosmic Star Heroine. It’s a Kickstarter by Zeboyd Games, featuring 16-bit graphics and a conspiracy story set on another planet. Because of the retro art style and turn-based combat, I would recommend it specifically to gamers who enjoy those things. It’s not for everybody. But it feels made for me, and since it’s not a AAA title getting tons of attention, I want to make sure to share it with you all. Here are a few reasons I’m loving it so much.

Continue reading Why I ♥ “Cosmic Star Heroine”

What’s New — August 2017

Howdy, everybody! How is it already August?!

Last month I feel like I got a lot of stuff done. I played Wolfenstein: The New Order. I read Sword of Destiny from The Witcher series (and totally loved it). I bought a new car. I picked up learning Spanish again. I started running again, in preparation for a 10K I’m doing in a few weeks. I had the flu for awhile, which made me a total couch potato for a week playing Persona 5 with my Kleenex next to me. (By the way, Persona 5 = best game ever when you’re home sick!) I also went to the movies more than usual, and saw Spider-Man: HomecomingDunkirk, and Valerian.

The only thing I didn’t do much of is writing, which was sort of my goal for the month of July. I had a Camp NaNoWriMo goal of writing for 30 hours over the course of the month, but I didn’t make it to my goal. I prioritized other things, which makes me feel a little disappointed in myself — but I did write a little, and I am on schedule to finish my book this year. I definitely feel good about where my sci-fi novel is at right now, I just have to make writing more of a habit. Ideally a daily one.

p5_bgIn August, I’ll be continuing to write — lots. I’m also going to a music festival, running my 10K, and hopefully making some time for Spanish practice.

I’ll also be more dedicated to my blog here! I know I took a little time off, which was totally unintentional. I guess I got a little writer’s block, and I was busy. But I’ll admit it was nice to take some time to just enjoy things without writing about all of them, playing Persona 5 for hours a day and going to the movies with my boyfriend. Sometimes you just need a break, and then you come back refreshed with ideas again! I love my blog and certainly have no plans to stop writing it, vacations aside. =)

What I’m Playing: Right now I’m finishing up Mass Effect Andromeda and continuing my Persona 5 obsession. I was really on the fence about whether to play Persona or Final Fantasy XII on PS4, but I decided to go with a new game. I like to play new stuff while people are still talking about it, because… what can I say, I’m easily swayed by hype! Although now I know a ton of people who have finished Persona 5 and are playing Final Fantasy XII, so… yeah.

Game_of_Thrones_finale_607_2What I’m Reading: I’m currently working my way through The Witcher series of novels. I’m halfway through Blood of Elves. I am also reading The Law trilogy by Joe Abercrombie, but I’m taking a break from it to focus on The Witcher for now.

What I’m Watching: Game of Thrones! I am a huge fan of Game of Thrones, so I’ve been eagerly awaiting this season. So far, it’s more action-packed than I expected, which I love. All I want in the world is to see Sam happy, Jon die heroically, Arya kill Cersei, and Dany take the Iron throne. That’s my wishlist. Let’s see what happens.

— Ashley

What’s New — July 2017

July is a month I have been long awaiting, for a few reasons:

  • It’s Camp NaNoWriMo, so I can focus on writing my novel again
  • Final Fantasy XII is coming out on PS4, so I can replay it
  • A ton of good movies are coming out

Plus, days off for 4th of July and all that good stuff. =)

Last month, I played some more Injustice 2, started making my way through Wolfenstein: The New Order, spent a lot of time working thanks to E3 madness, and saw the amazing and funny Wonder Woman movie. This month…

Novel Writing

On the writing front, I have been pretty bad about keeping to a schedule lately. I’ve had a lot of ideas, so in general things are going in the right direction — I just need to make time to write. I’d blame a super busy work month, but there’s never an excuse for not writing!

In any case, National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) has a camp in April and July, which lets you group up with other writers online to encourage each other through the month. You set your own personal goals with this one. Mine will be to write seven hours per week. I’d say one hour per day, but I’m going to give myself the leeway to write a little extra some days and skip a day once in a while, depending on when I have time. Life happens, after all. But by the end of the month, with that much writing, I should feel like I made some good progress!

Final Fantasy XII

final-fantasy-xii-key-artI don’t need another video game in my life right now. I’m wrapping up both Mass Effect Andromeda and Wolfenstein: The New Order, I’m playing some Nex Machina co-op with my partner, and I’ve started a new playthrough of Dragon Age Inquisition that I’ll be chipping away at for the next little while here. I also have Persona 5 on my list of games-to-play. And Night in the Woods.

But… Final Fantasy XII is one of my favorite video games ever, and one of the first I played. The characters and rich settings are so stuck in my mind. I remember battling through tedious dungeons just to get to that next beautiful cutscene and unravel more of the story. I was in love with Balthier. It’s just such a magical game to me, I have to play it again now that it’s coming to the PlayStation 4. It’ll take me some time, but hey, video games are meant to be enjoyed. I can take my time. =)

Movies

Summer is known for blockbuster movies, and the ones I’m most looking forward to are Spider-Man: Homecoming next week, and then Dunkirk and Valerian later in the month.

I’ve started reading Valerian (specifically the comic tied to the movie) to learn about the characters and world. I love that it’s fun, over-the-top science fiction adventure, but with that underlying young romance. Maybe unrequited, which can be even better.

What’s everybody else doing and playing this month?

— Ashley

SCIENCE FICTION, FANTASY, and VIDEO GAMES!