Category Archives: What’s New

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

What’s New — June 2017

Hey everybody! I can’t believe summer is already here, and this month the thing I am most looking forward to is E3. While I’m not attending this year, I am eager to see what new games are announced so I can keep on filling my already way-too-full stack of games I need to play. =)

eos outpostRight now, I’m in the process of finishing my playthrough of Mass Effect Andromeda. I’m not sure exactly how far along I am, but I feel like things are starting to crescendo, so the finale must be on the way! While I can’t say I am as hooked on the game as I was on the original Mass Effect trilogy, it’s definitely scratching my itch for sci-fi, and I love the exploration aspect of the game. The characters are great, missions are exciting — the biggest issue I have, I would say, is that it does still rely too much on fetch quests and repetitive side missions, like their other open world game, Dragon Age Inquisition. But I’ll post my thoughts when I’m all done with the game!

DA8KVQHUMAAsJr5I’ve also been really into Injustice 2 lately, although it’s harder for me to get the hang of than Mortal Kombat X was. I tried a bunch of characters until I decided Catwoman was the one for me, but even then, it’s been taking some time to nail her special moves and combos. She doesn’t come as naturally to me as D’Vorah did in Mortal Kombat X. I’ve also enjoyed playing as Poison Ivy, Black Adam, and Robin, and I’m in love with Black Canary’s outfits which makes me want to play as her sometime too. But I have to focus on one character at a time, because getting those combos down is all about muscle memory! I can only learn so much at once. Plus, Catwoman has some pretty kickass moves — she uses a whip, guys — and I love her gear. One of my favorite things about Injustice 2 so far is the ability to play with gear, outfitting your characters the way you want. Different outfits come with different stats, but you can swap gear with something you like the look of more, and use shaders to customize colors. For someone like me who gets way to into character creators, playing dress-up like this is really addicting.

Anyway, other than that I’ve been reading The Witcher books. I just re-read The Last Wish — well, specifically I listened to the audiobook this time — and now I’m moving on to Sword of Destiny (which I totally missed before) and then the first novel in the series, Blood of Elves. You can read my thoughts on The Last Wish here!

uk-orig-the-blade-itselfI also just started reading my first Joe Abercrombie book, The Blade Itself. I know I just started it yesterday, but I’m now five chapters in and falling in love fast. It feels like everything I want in an epic fantasy — amazing world-building, deep characters, hand-to-hand combat action — but with a real sense of humor. It actually reminds me of the tone of The Witcher series, just because it’s both fun and funny, while still tackling some serious fantasy politics and danger. (I mean, one of the main characters is a torturer.)

For other entertainment, I’ve been watching The Handmaid’s Tale on Hulu and American Gods on Starz.

The first is an adaptation of one of my favorite books, and in the latest episodes it’s been taking some very dark turns, some of which deviate a little bit from the novel. I think everyone should read the book, honestly. The show is excellent too, but I think it would probably help to read the book first, as it’s a pretty stark world to dive into on a screen; somehow reading it feels like a more gentle, if still disturbing, introduction to this world where fertile women are forced into servitude to produce children.

american gods tv show.pngThe latter, American Gods, is an adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s novel, which I read recently and only kind of liked. However, the show is amazing. I like it a lot more than the book so far, in part because it visualizes things with much more color and excitement than the novel did. Where the book plodded along, the show creates a distinct energy as you take in the details of the setting, the characters’ expressions, and the beautiful cinematography. The fact that the show doesn’t shy away from the conquests of Bilquis, who devours those she sleeps with, is impressive too. I appreciate the novel’s concept so much, but in execution, it works better as a show for me.

And then there’s my writing. I am getting back into noveling lately. I miss it. I’ve been pretty busy with work and video games the past couple of months, but National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is also awesome enough to organize a couple of months every year dedicated to making your own writing goals. The next one is in July, so I’m going to come up with a goal for it. In the meantime, I’m prepping by getting back into the habit of writing on a daily (or almost daily) basis, and outlining in greater detail so I don’t get stuck when I sit down to stare at a blank page!

What are you all up to this month? Are there any new games or shows you are excited about, and what are you most excited to see from E3?!

Ashley

What’s New — May 2017

It’s a new month, which means it’s time for another update and a fresh start on nerdy adventures! Here’s what I’ve been up to…

jaal_mass_effect_andromeda.jpgLast month I started my adventures in Mass Effect: Andromeda. This month I’ll be wrapping them up. I’m about halfway through the game now, and I’m sure I’ll have some video posts incoming as I keep playing, along with a full review! I seriously ❤ this game. And Jaal! I finally found my new BioWare romance. You can follow along with my adventures here if you are so inclined to read a ridiculously long, detailed, spoiler-filled diary of the game!

I’ve also been playing the indie game Cosmic Star Heroine which I recommend to anyone who is into a.) 16-bit graphics, b.) turn-based combat, c.) wacky, kickass sci-fi, and/or d.) visual novel-style dialogue all over the place. It’s so much fun, guys.

Prey and Farpoint are out this month, and I must say, I would dig a solid shooter sometime soon. Mass Effect is technically a shooter, but I use my powers rather than shooting half the time and am currently playing on an easier difficulty — which means I spend way more time just hanging out and talking in the game. Prey seems like it will scratch my shooter itch, but I don’t know if I’ll get around to it immediately. I kinda want to finish Mass Effect first.

Same thing with Farpoint, which is intriguing mainly for being a VR shooter with the new Aim controller. I don’t know how I feel about holding a gun-like object in my hand, but I’m curious to try it. It might feel too real to me, too violent, if that makes sense. Whether or not I get into it, it looks amazing and I’m sure it will elevate the whole VR experience to new realistic heights.

HandmaidsTaleTA.jpgHulu’s new series The Handmaid’s Tale has also just started. An adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s novel, I’ve been waiting for it since I listened to the audiobook, narrated by Claire Danes, earlier this year. Few books have resonated with me quite like The Handmaid’s Tale, and I can’t recommend it highly enough. I’m enjoying the Hulu series a lot so far. It keeps the protagonist Offred’s narration at the forefront, which might make it slow-paced to some, but as a reader I believe it’s the most fulfilling way to understand the story.

As for my writing, I’m gradually getting back into my book. After a couple of months of inspiration and sweat after National Novel Writing Month, things sort of tapered off. Part of that was from family stuff I was dealing with, and a new job I was getting used to, and… yeah, priorities. But I’m setting myself up with a new schedule to continue writing my novel. I want to finish this thing and pop open the bottle of wine I’ve been storing for when I finally type the last period. Or question mark? I might end my book with a question mark.

What are you guys up to this month? What’s everybody watching and playing? I also need new TV show recommendations… =)

Ashley

What’s New — April 2017

Well, March turned out to be a pretty amazing month for me, and now I’m hoping April will top it. =)

YjgxZjk5MDcxMCMvMU5aSXU4Z2lxdzJWRjVReHdmLVBPYlZzVE1NPS8xOTEweDEwMDAvc21hcnQvaHR0cHM6Ly9zMy5hbWF6b25hd3MuY29tL3BvbGljeW1pYy1pbWFnZXMvd2p1a3hycGJtd3JocGMyaWtpeHA2a2dkN2o3dWdmMG52cWVoanZ2Y2Last month I played Horizon Zero Dawn. It was easily one of the best video games I’ve ever played. The story, the lead character Aloy, the graphics, the scenery, the structure to the open-world questing… everything was near perfect. I’ll post something about it soon, because I’d like to discuss how it approaches an open world format and compare it to other open-world games like The Witcher 3, Dragon Age: Inquisition, and Skyrim.

Aside from that, I started re-reading one of my favorite books ever, the science fiction classic Dune by Frank Herbert. I’m actually listening to the audiobook on my commute, downloaded from Audible, so if anyone is interested in what it’s like to listen to I can review that aspect of it. You can read about my history with Dune here — it’s kind of the book that got me into sci-fi in the first place!

C7yMP1wVUAAZ6yqI also started playing Mass Effect: Andromeda last month, and I must say, it is so much better than I expected. While I tried to avoid reviews before starting, I was hearing a lot of complaints — not just about the facial animations (which honestly doesn’t phase me, that’s not why I play Mass Effect), but also about the writing not being great and the story not being very captivating. Fortunately, I disagree with those complaints. I am loving the game so far. I feel really connected to my Ryder, the protagonist of the game, because Andromeda features four tone options that really shape a unique personality for her. It’s much deeper than what I’ve seen in previous BioWare games.

Anyway, I’m sure I’ll review the game when I’m done with it. In the meantime, you can read my game diary as I play it here.

In other news, baseball season is back! I went to my first game (pre-season) a couple of days ago, and I can’t wait to start watching games again. If you’re into baseball, you can read this post I wrote about the baseball team roster I would create out of Mass Effect trilogy characters. I totally want to do that again for Andromeda now!

I’ve also been working on fitness goals a lot lately. Originally I was going to train for a 10K this month, but I decided to postpone running goals to focus more on strength training and flexibility. I took my first lyra class last week — it’s an aerial sport where you perform transitions and poses in a hoop suspended from the ceiling — and am so sore and bruised, I have some work to do to get in shape for it! I’m excited to start training more heavily as I continue to take beginner’s classes.

As for writing… I haven’t done anything all month. I want to change that in April. I have been thinking about my novel a lot lately, and I miss writing it. I think I just needed a breather to focus on other things (new job, fitness, and video games!) and gain a little perspective on my story. I feel I have that now, so it’s time to dive back in.

Dragon Age OriginsI also attended a Game of Thrones concert last week which was extremely fun. You can check out my mini-review here.

This month is also my birthday, and as always, I’ll be honoring my tradition of playing Dragon Age: Origins again. I hope to complete a playthrough this year, since I didn’t last year. I think I’ll go with a male character this time, which is something I just never do…

What are you guys up to this month? What games are you playing?

— Ashley