A Local Habitation (October Daye Book 2) Review

“Giants and witches, fairy-tale monsters… those are for heroes. For everything else, they have people like me.”

Changeling October Daye has been reluctantly pulled back into dealing with the fae world and all the headaches and dangers that go with it. When the Duke who granted her knighthood sends her to investigate an odd lack of communication with his niece with tense political implications Toby will have significantly more immediate concerns to worry beyond potential diplomatic incidents.




Rosemary and Rue was a great start to a fantasy series I definitely felt inclined to continue along with. A Local Habitation sees Toby dealing with different, more external threats in a book that’s honestly a step down from the first, but still a solid installment overall. The pace is just a little off and the central mystery, while decent enough, has a couple of weakness that are hard to overlook. In parts I felt Toby and others were just a little too slow on the uptake, which is a rough flaw to get by in a mystery. When the reader feels too far ahead of the protagonist, particularly one like Toby who’s usually sharp, some frustration starts to set in.

But Toby’s second adventure does shine in several of the ways her first one did. The mythology continues to be revealed in a natural, engrossing manner and McGuire’s recurring characters are a delight to observe and attempt to decipher. I also liked this more the second read through, even though I’d forgotten enough about the plot in the intervening years that there shouldn’t have been much difference in the experience. The implications of how everything turns out should have interesting ripple effects going forward.

All in all A Local Habitation was a good read, although I expected just a little more from it based on Rosemary and Rue. Regardless the series is compelling and I’m excited to move on to book three, which will be new to me.

Spider-Man: Homecoming Review

“I know you want to save the world. But… you’re not ready yet.”




I enjoyed bits and pieces of Sam Raimi’s original three Spider-man movies, but overall they weren’t as good as they should have been. I never had enough interest to bother watching the “Amazing Spider-Man” films. But I read a fair number of comics featuring him when I was younger and have always been interested in seeing a proper representation of the character on-screen.

Given the success and quality of Marvel’s ever expanding cinematic universe, news that they reached a deal to reacquire Spidey for use in their own films brought a lot of excitement. The new version of the character was introduced in Civil War, and Tom Holland impressed immediately as the perfect person to channel the balance of earnestness and awkwardness Peter needed.

Still, the high school setting that needs to be incorporated in a solo Spider-Man movie is tricky, and there were points of concern going into this new vision of the wallcrawler. As contradictory as it sounds, I thought things were executed both really well and with somewhat lackluster execution.

Make no mistake, the movie is great overall. When things start to come together the level of tension and emotional pitch are perfect, the action scenes are striking and fun, and the acting throughout is excellent. The catch is getting to the point where the movie becomes fantastic and all of the groundwork pays off is so boring. It shouldn’t be, as there’s nothing wrong with the plotting, acting, nor approach in the first half of the movie as the specifics of Peter’s life and all the important characters around him are introduced. Yet somehow despite being necessary and competently done the film lacks something to fully engage the viewer and shake the feeling of waiting for “the good stuff” to happen. Again, it’s not bad, but the early sections feel slow and pedestrian despite touches of humor and a solid underlying story.

And then a switch flips, and all the buildup, potential, and patience pay off in a big way. The climax of the movie is fantastic, anchored by incredible performances by Michael Keaton as a smart, dangerous antagonist just a few degrees of center and by Holland as a wannabe hero coming of age. Homecoming became everything I wanted from a Spider-Man movie by the end, it just took it a while to get there. Hang in for the full ride, and you’ll be rewarded with some of the MCU’s best scenes and performances. I just hope next time they’ll skip right to that feeling from the get go.

Rosemary and Rue (October Daye Book 1) Review

“It’s just that sometimes my cases were more Brothers Grimm than Magnum PI.”


Former knight October Daye, who prefers Toby, is half human / half fae changeling who has extremely good reasons for no longer wanting anything to due with the Faerie world. However it has no intention of giving her a choice…




I’m getting back into urban fantasy in earnest and decided to refresh my memory on the first couple of October Daye novels so I could continue with the series. I remember Rosemary and Rue being a great start, and reached the same conclusion with this reread. It establishes a deep intersecting world combining Fae kingdoms with the modern world as well as giving weighty, completely understandable reasons for protagonist Toby Daye’s role as a reluctant heroine. We feel the tragedy of her past, and thus are fully invested in the troubles she unwillingly has to deal with.

McGuire does a phenomenal job here providing enough context and answers to fully engage the reader while simultaneously really only scratching the surface of her world’s potential and mysteries she has in store. Particularly compelling are the variety of diverse and genuine feeling characters Toby has to deal with, each with a well formed personality and their own goals and agendas. I’ll hold off naming favorites to avoid spoilers, but the cast really shines overall and is one of the series’ greatest assets.

The plot and underlying mystery is appropriately tense, builds nicely, and unfolds logically. I’ve enjoyed revisiting Rosemary and Rue and am really looking forward to getting farther along in Toby’s adventures.



Juni Taisen Zodiac War Episode 1 Review

Every twelve years warriors representing the zodiac gather to “compete” until only one remains. To the victor, a granted wish. The Boar, haughty daughter of last tournament’s victor, arrives with destiny in mind and is determined not to be one of the eleven consigned to oblivion.




Like Recovery of an MMO Addict, this is another anime I checked out as part of Crunchyroll’s Passport contest and as such was going in totally cold information-wise.

But while I had no foreknowledge of Juni Taisen Zodiac War, the basic idea was readily apparent. Twelve hardened warriors representing the zodiac have gathered to “compete” until there is only one left. The tone is dark and unsettling, and the entire premise and rules are set up for gruesome deaths and establish tension. Flashbacks to Boar’s background help establish the (disturbing) scope of the show.

The atmosphere and execution is where this sets itself apart, and Zodiac War is interesting and well done overall. I admittedly could have done without what I found to be “meta” spoilers (and I’m very glad I avoided Crunchyroll’s episode description, which is as blatant a spoiler filled summary as I’ve seen), as I readily predicted where things were going. But getting there was still fairly compelling. I wonder if this initial episode will be a template for future episodes. I hope not, because while it worked well enough here as a formula it would drain all suspense from the series. I’m interested in watching more, and cautiously optimistic about the potential this has.


Kino’s Journey: The Beautiful World Episode 2 Review

“Revenge is ludicrous.”




The first episode of Kino’s Journey: The Beautiful World was a decent return to the universe of my favorite anime of all time.

The questions about whether this is a sequel or reboot are answered here, as we get a complete retelling of a story from the first series. Comparisons are thus unavoidable, and to be honest this version doesn’t fare well.

Colosseum is one episode now instead of two in the original, leading to pacing problems and straight up rambling exposition at various times to to set up the plot background. There’s no drama nor proper time to the fights now, and all character development of the other participants and support cast is gone. The absence of certain aspects (tiered society, face to face meeting with the king, etc) modify the philosophy of the story, removing depth and completely changing the implications and meaning of Kino’s actions. I feel all nuance has been lost, and this plays more like a plot outline of the original episodes than a fully formed story.

I’m extremely curious which is closer to the light novel this is based on, as while still justified this Kino is much less relatable/likable compared to the original anime, particularly since this is presented in the second episode with much less opportunity to get to know Kino before these events. It will be interesting to see what new viewers think without the old series to compare to.

I really hope they stick to new material going forward. There’s plenty from the light novels to draw from, so half hearted remakes of stories already adapted don’t seem necessary. Keeping the old series as cannon and providing background exposition as needed would have worked just fine, and certainly wouldn’t have been any more awkward than the info dumps present here. In a vacuum this wasn’t bad, but as a remake it was disappointing.

Top Five “New to Me” Games Late-2017

As in the past, I’d again like to look at some of the best games that I’ve tried for the first time (relatively) recently.


Ground rules:

  • The only qualification for this list is that I personally played the game for the first time since my mid-2017 list.
  • As usual I’ve tried 10+ new games since then, so it was difficult to narrow this down. Honorable Mentions include, but aren’t limited to Triplock, Einstein, and Thunder & Lightning.




5. The Captain is Dead




If ever there was a game that exceeded my expectations, it’s The Captain is Dead. The odd premise is incredibly fun and engaging from the moment the game begins, as well as being ingeniously integrated into the gameplay and highly engrossing. There’s a real sense of entropy that the players need to get ahead of to succeed. Great co-op all around that’s highly recommended for anyone who’s ok with reactive gameplay and the quirky sci-fi setting.

Full review.


4. Magic Maze



The premise of Magic Maze completely ridiculous. The pawns represent a party of adventurers that need to resupply and have decided to rob the … local mall. Yes, really. 🙂 The players share control of all four of them and try to map out the mall, get each adventurer to their favorite shop simultaneously, then get everyone out.

Overall Magic Maze is a fantastic real time co-op that features phenomenal design and brings something new and fun to the genre. It made a strong positive impression on everyone I’ve played with, and is a great addition to the game closet.

Full review.


3. Exit Series


The Exit games are the best Escape Room inspired home games I’ve played. Embracing a low cost point so they could make the games single use, the designers take full advantage of having components that can be cut, drawn on, and otherwise destroyed to create really clever puzzles and thoroughly engaging experiences. All three I’ve tried have been quite impressive and fun, and capture some of the wonder of playing actual escape rooms.

More thoughts on the series.


2. Near and Far



Near and Far is a gorgeous adventure themed game with high production value, great atmosphere, and a real feeling on progress and exploration. The story elements are wonderfully integrated and enhance, rather than disrupt, the competitive game mechanics. With several game modes, maps, and variations this is a deep game with high replayability.


1. Yamatai



Yamatai is a great area claiming game that’s reasonably accessible yet achieves significant depth due to modular setup, the variety of action choices available, and needing to properly exploit boats/resources placed by opponents. There are a lot of interesting choices every single turn and subtle underlying strategy and tactics to experiment with. I’ve played two and three players and the dynamics were quite different while still retaining the same feel and appeal. This is a fantastic new addition to my collection that jumped right into my list of favorite games.



That’s it for now. It continues to be a great time for gaming, and everything here is well worth at least giving a try.

What are everyone else’s new favorites?

The Ancient Magus’ Bride Episode 1 Review

“Their kindness and favors don’t necessarily benefit a human.”




The Ancient Magus’ Bride starts out with an unsettling and ominous opening with heavy atmosphere as we see a young girl dejectedly signing a contract then being put in a collar, chains, and a robe. She’s purchased by mysterious figure for exorbitant amount, and isn’t even remotely expecting his intentions.

The underlying premise and setup are of course uncomfortable, but things settle into a lighter atmosphere in short order. The heavy themes are of course still there, but the themes move into the territory of acceptance and dealing with coming out of the depths of despair. Chise’s burdened and cursed with powers that are now appreciated and valued, and she has no idea how to react with the possibly fortuitous change in her fate. It’s a delicate subject well handled and this first episode is captivating as her story starts to unfold.

The feel has a touch of “slice of life” as the details of Chise’s new situation are revealed, and the world has a fascinating layer of magic behind it. Being set outside of London and a great animation style combine for a wonderful aesthetic. I’ve been curious about this series and found this first taste of it quite intriguing. Looking forward to watching more.