Wednesday, April 26, 2017

The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers

My initial impression as I started reading The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers, was that it was a cross between Firefly and Farscape. That was mostly correct. Wayfarers #1 is the story of a girl who needs to get away and leave her past behind, what better place than open space? She is assigned to the Wayfarer ship and is mingling for the first time with other species, and quickly learns that reality is different than what she learned in college when it comes to dealing with alien species. 

Chambers has created a full world, with the backstory of humans leaving Earth and setting out for space and other planets dishearteningly believable. The alien species we meet are much more Farscape than Star Trek, more varied than human-like. 

The book was hard to put down and I had a couple of late nights trying to find out what would happen next. I do not read a lot of space sci-fi, but this book was very appealing to me. 

Word of warning: if you are not a fan of same-sex pairings and discussion of fluid genders, this may not be the book for you. To me, they felt natural. The book deals with species other than our own and life outside of our planet. We know the diversity of humans, and it is not surprising that alien life would be just as diverse if not more so. I would just hate to see negative reviews because someone went into this book without knowing that it dealt (very well, I might add) with those topics. Personally, that is part of what I love about reading. It puts you inside of other people's lives that you would otherwise never experience. 

I would highly recommend this book to fans of the aforementioned Firefly or Farscape, or fans of the space genre in general, and fans of just fun adventures with good characters.

I'm giving The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers 5 Stars

Monday, April 17, 2017

Mrs Queen Takes The Train: A Novel by William Kuhn

This was a strange but entertaining novel that fit in nicely with recent things like The Crown and Victoria that I had watched on Netflix and PBS, respectively. Somehow I had a different idea of what the book was about from reading the description, but I wasn't disappointed with what it turned out to be.

The unassuming title is a perfect fit for this unassuming, charming book. Basically, The Queen decides to pop down to The Mews unannounced to check on a favorite horse. She is waylaid on her way back to her office and decides to run a couple of errands.

I would say the book is more about the people who go looking for The Queen than about The Queen herself. There are interesting bits that are entertaining insights into who Queen Elizabeth II actually is, but we can't really know how accurate they are. It's more about these people, who are all kind of broken, who are trying to track down The Queen before the story gets out that she's missing.

If I hadn't recently watched The Crown and Victoria, I may have found this book less interesting. But, with those under my belt, I found Kuhn's representation of Elizabeth II believable enough to enjoy and was able to focus on the other characters.

There is a female groom at The Mews, who unknowingly provided Her Majesty a disguise and is better with horses than people.  A young man who wants to be a poet but currently works at a cheese shop accompanies The Queen for a time. An equerry who is suffering from his time in Iraq and usually arranges The Queen's transportation is the first to realize she is missing. A senior butler, who had embellished his name agrees to help the equerry keep it under wraps and assist in locating The Queen. The most senior of The Queen's dressers is alerted and has some idea of where The Queen may have gone because they tend to chat in the course of her duties. And finally, a lady in waiting who is in service to The Queen because she has no family to support her and must earn her own living, but her nephew may help with transportation and a place to stay during the search.

I really enjoyed the book and would recommend it to fans of the British Royal Family and anyone looking for a charming book about a group of people thrown together by circumstance.

I am giving Mrs. Queen Takes The Train by William Kuhn 4 Stars

Sunday, April 02, 2017

Stardew Valley Part 4

I am a total hoarder when it comes to a game like Stardew Valley. Luckily, Stardew makes it easy to hoard and tends to reward you for it. For example, you check the help-wanted board in town and someone wants a melon, but if you’ve just sold your last one and there isn’t time to grow another before the end of the season, you are out of luck. But, if you have a chest built (or 6), you can save one or two of everything and then you’ll be able to quickly answer those calls for help from your fellow townspeople.

The great thing about chests is they are fairly cheap to craft (50 wood) and you can put one anywhere. Eventually, I put one right outside the mine so that I could store weapons and food items there in case I decided to mine at the spur of the moment. I can also empty my backpack into it before entering the mine so I don’t run out of space for all that ore and monster loot.

Speaking of backpacks, I know every site you see about Stardew Valley says it, but upgrade your backpack as soon as possible, it makes the game much more enjoyable. The second game I started reminded me of how much of a pain it was at first with the small backpack.

Speaking about things that are frustrating in Stardew Valley, let’s talk about fishing. Fishing was the thing that sent me to the internet to find videos and that’s when I found the wiki.

When you first try fishing, it seems tricky but you catch something pretty quickly. Subsequent times you try to fish, it feels impossible. You’re supposed to keep that fish in that tiny box? Impossible!

I kept thinking there was a trick I was missing. There wasn’t. So I definitely didn’t prioritize fishing. But here’s the thing, the more you fish the more you level up and then as you level up fishing becomes easier. So all you can do is keep plugging away at it. Eventually, you can get a better fishing pole and use bait and add bobbers. The box you have to keep the fish inside also gets bigger as you level up. So just keep fishing, just keep fishing…