December 2018 Wrap Up

During December I read 3 books and started and finished one PlayStation 4 game. Three books doesn’t sound like a lot in comparison to what I’ve read in some months but I felt good about what I read and with the holidays I spent a lot of time with my family so the numbers don’t matter.


18404173The first book I read and finished was The Romanov Sisters by Helen Rappaport. As a historian I try to read a few nonfiction history books each year thought I primarily read for fun these days. The Romanov Sisters follows the lives of the last four Grand Duchesses of Russia: Olga, Tatiana, Maria, and Anastasia Romanov from their births till their deaths during the Russian Revolution. Helen Rappaport weaves their story in a way that makes it feel like your not reading a boring account of history which I hope more historians are able to do. She includes all the relevant information and quotes from the girls letters that show case how bright and wonderful these young women were who died to young. I feel like the reader doesn’t need to know much if anything about Russian history to enjoy the book but those who like to read history or nonfiction could get more out of it. Though an enjoyable and well researched book I did feel like it started to drag a bit when the timeline got to World War I as the lives of the Romanov’s become much more restricted and not as interesting to read about. Overall I feel like this is a history book written for everyone and I gave it 3/5 stars.

13641105The second book I finished in December was Parasite by Mira Grant (aka Seanan McGuire) where in the year 2027 sickness and disease have been eradicated by everyone caring a genetically engineered tape worm create by SymboGen. The story follows Sally Mitchel who nearly died six years ago but was saved by the SymoboGen tape worm. However, things are starting to go wrong with the tape worms and people are not acting like they should so Sally must figure out what is going on and her new place in the world. If you have any anxiety or fears based around medical events or parasites/bugs I would consider not reading this series.  I absolutely loved the NewsFlesh series and have loved many of Seanan McGuire’s other work so I was expecting to love this book. However, the book starts out strong I started to lose enjoyment while reading about half way though as there is a major plot twist that I couldn’t really get behind. Seanan McGuire’s endings though, especially in her science fiction horror books feel like a gut punch or that didn’t just happen, did it?  Its nothing that I ever expect and it always causes me to want to read more. So, I do plan on continuing the series but I don’t think I will love it as much as some of her other series. For this first book I gave it 3.5/5 stars.

31014504The final book I read was Doctor Who: Twelve Doctors of Christmas. I’ve loved Doctor Who for years now and while I don’t read many of the books there are some gems out there. Twelve Doctors of Christmas is a collection of short stories featuring each of the twelve Doctors and stories set around or on Christmas Day. The book is structured with one story and illustration for each Doctor. I feel those who have seen at least a few episodes from each Doctor will get the most enjoyment out of the stories but even if you have only gotten into Doctor Who recently there is something for everyone. All twelve stories are well written, cute stories focusing on the Doctor and Christmas that is best read during the holiday season. I gave it 4/5 stars.


unravel_cover_artI started and finished the PlayStation 4 game Unravel in December. In Unravel you play as a little yarn guy, called Yarny, through a series of adventures in different locations from a families past. The story is told only though the animation,images, and the music as there is no dialogue in the entire game. As you play thought different levels such as a beach, winter landscapes, and farmland you complete puzzles and platforming sections that show you more of the story and the emotions of what you are seeing. Though the puzzles can be changeling, its amazing how much can be done without dialogue or much of the written word. I had a great time playing the game and I think I might play the squeal.

Kingdom Hearts Retrospective

kingdom_heartsSo with Kingdom Hearts 3 finally coming out this year I’ve decided that it was time to get back into the series and start everything over from the beginning. At this point with the game only days away from release I know there is no way I will finish all the other games in time but I like taking my time with games and series even if that means I’m late to the party.

Currently I’m 25, and I’m going to be 26 in April but I’ve been a fan of Kingdom Hearts since 2006 when I was 13. I had gotten a PlayStation 2 either in 2002 or 2003 but didn’t really get into gaming until a couple of years later. At the time I was really into Final Fantasy and I still am but I had gone to Best Buy to pick up a copy of Final Fantasy 7: Advent Children and one of the employees suggest Kingdom Hearts which I also bought. But the thing is when I was younger I very bad a video games though I loved playing them. I had this bad habit of starting a game and either not understanding something or not leveling properly so I would get stuck and stop playing. A month would go by and I would attempt the game again and sometimes I would just restart from the beginning. So I had this tendency to never really finish any games (though in high school I broke this habit).

91d+8w4tspl._ac_ul320_sr256,320_In Kingdom Hearts you play as Sora, a kid from Destiny Island, who wants to go on an adventure with his friends Kairi and Riku. When the Islands get attacked by the heartless Sora is separated from his friends but meets up with Donald and Goofy who are tasked with traveling to different Disney worlds to defeat the heartless and save/find Kairi and Riku.

I know when I was a kid that I got to Halloween Town but never finished the game. I also played the first two hours of Kingdom Hearts 2 but that was it until recently. However, I followed the information about all the games coming out but could never play most of them because of how they seemed to be on different consoles each time.  At this point I have only gotten through Kingdom Hearts and Kingdom Hearts Re:Chain of Memories.

I love the first game. Its simple in its story telling but the emotional core is very strong. I want Sora to find his friends, I want King Mickey to be found and I want the heartless to be defeated. As the first game in the series its very easy to get into and overall the game play is not overly hard. There’s only a handful of things I don’t like with the game play but I also don’t think I’m very good at games so these might not be issues for many. The big problem is the jumping is not very good which makes any platforming sections even worse and there is no map on the screen so you have no idea where you are most of the time. I only other issue is the final boss is multiple fights in a row with no check point/ save or anything which the boss is not all that hard for the end of the game but if you mess up or your timing is off just enough you have to do it all over again.

With Kingdom Hearts Re:Chain of Memories I only played the first couple of hours before deciding that I absolutely can not stand the card battle system. So I ended up watching a play though for the plot information and just leaving it at that. I do feel that games are better played than watched but watching it is bettering than skipping the game outright when each game adds to the plot. In Chain of Memories Sora, Donald, and Goofy are trapped in Castle Oblivion and travel through the memories they have of visiting all of the worlds from the first game to find the truth while also dealing with the new villains, the Nobodies of Organization XIII.

I’m in the Kingdom Hearts pain train now as people call it and plan to continue playing the rest of the series and Kingdom Hearts 3 when I get around to it.


December 2018 Owlcrate

Owl Crate is a young adult book subscription box where every month you receive one new hardcover book and an assortment of bookish goodies connected to the monthly theme. Decembers theme was Power of Illusions. Last month’s box was a let down for me as I didn’t love most of the items but this box is back on track.

img_0179_momentThe bookish items this month included a Queen Levana inspired candle from Flick the Wick. Queen Levana is a character from the Lunar Chronicles by Marrisa Meyer and the candle is described as blackberries, vanilla, and fresh greenery. When I smell it I get a berry and a light vanilla scent but not any of the fresh greenery. Candles are very personal so I can see some subscribers not liking the scent. It’s a 2 oz candle which seems a little small to me.


There was an ornament with a castle/city on it inspired by The Crown’s Game, a magnet with a quote inspired by The Night Circus, and a tote bag inspired by Caraval. None of these books mentioned I have read so the items are not as exciting for me but they are beautifully designed and practical items that I will use. There is also a button included in every box, I’ve never been a pin or button collector so I give these way or donate them. This box also included an extra chapter sampler of King of Fools by Amanda Foody.

img_0195The big item for the box besides the book is a custom reading planner which I don’t like and probably won’t use. I like idea of including a reading planer and I’m not sure if anyone else is like this but I have a very specific way I like planners to be laid out which this is not. Personally, I prefer planners to already have the dates and months included because I won’t bother to do it myself though it is good if you don’t start using the planner at the beginning of the year. The other thing that bugs me is that all of the monthly planner sections are at the front and the weekly at the back so that more troublesome to use both than it needs to be. I completely understand that Owl Crate can’t cater to every subscriber but I surprised that they didn’t used a more traditional set up for the planner. If I use it at all it will be supplemental to my main planner.

The signed book is Amber & Dusk by Lyra Selene which came with a letter from the author and an amber pendant necklace. Amber & Dusk follows Sylvie who has the power to create illusions but was taught that her powers were a curse. She travels to the Amber City to joining the court but things are not what they appear and she must train and learn more about her powers to survive. This is not a book that I’ve heard anything about but it sounds interesting and I’m always up for trying new things.dscn1210

The theme for January’s crate is Magical Artifacts and if it the book that I think I could be than I feel like it will be a very good box. Owl Crate like any subscription box can be hit or miss but it is fun to get a surprise every month. I think I’ll keep Owl Crate for a few more months or until another box interests me more.

Wayward Children Series(#1-3)

The Wayward Children’s series by Seanan McGuire follows kids and teenagers who have traveled into fantasy worlds, have returned home and how they cope or not cope with being brought back to a world that is now not really home.

25526296Every Heart a Doorway follows Nancy a new student at Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children who traveled to the Halls of the Dead, is now back home and her parents want her to be the way she was before she left. Shortly after Nancy arrives at the school another student is murdered and the plot revolves around who is killing the students and why. This book introduces multiple characters that we gain more information about both in this book as well through out the series and how these other worlds work on a scale of Nonsense/Logic and Virtue/Wickedness though it becomes clear that world can present themselves one way while their rules don’t seem the same. One of the things I love about Seanan McGuire’s books is the fact that many of the characters are diverse such as different religions, sexuality and identities but this diversity is not the main focus of the plot. The characters are diverse because the real world is diverse. Every Heart a Doorway so far is my favorite book in the series.

31450908Down Among the Sticks and Bones follows Jack and Jill, twin sisters that we met in book one, and tells the story of before they arrived at school and the world that they went to. Jack and Jill’s parents treated their daughters as one being a tomboy and the other a girly girl regardless of how they felt about it and that caused them to resent each other. When they arrive at the Moors, a world much like Universal’s classic horror movies, they finally chose who they were for them selves with Jack working for a mad scientist and Jill becoming the favorite of the Vampire that ruled the town which changes everything forever. Technically, books one and two of this series can be read with either working as book one however, I feel like Every Heart should be read first because of what happens to Jack and Jill at the end of book one which shows what they become where Down is their back story and why they are the way they are.

To discus Beneath the Sugar Sky in any detail I will have to mention spoilers for book one, so if you don’t want that just know that Beneath is my least favorite of the series as I feel the story is not as good as the other books and the fat representation is very heavy-handed which makes parts of the story hard to read.


27366528Beneath the Sugar Sky follows Rini the daughter of Sumi, who was killed the beginning of book one. Rini has traveled from the world of Confection to Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children to save her mother’s life and her world. Because of Rini’s quest several other students join her in traveling through different world to put Sumi back together again and help her save Confection which allows the readers to see different worlds than have been shown in the other books and see some of the previous main characters. Though the plot of Beneath revolves around Rini and her quest to save her mother a new student, Cora, is the main narrator/character for the book.

Cora is a curvy young woman who travel to the Trenches where she was a mermaid but is now the new arrival at the school. Generally, I love how Seanan McGuire handles diverse representation but this time it felt very heavy-handed. When the reader meets Cora it is made very clear that Cora is fat (she repeatedly calls herself fat throughout the book) and as the main narrator of the book we hear Cora’s internal monologue thought most of it. It’s clear that in her previous schools that she has been bullied for her weight and at one point was not comfortable in her body but some times it seemed a bit too much and I just wanted it to stop. By the end of the book the only things I felt I knew about Cora is that she fat and a good swimmer. Fat representation is need but I felt like it could be done better. The one thing I loved about this book is the fact that the character travel to some of the different worlds and Seanan McGuire’s writing style is whimsical and sucks you in.

Overall, I love the Wayward Children’s series and I can’t wait for the next book In an Absent Dream which comes out in January 2019.