Goodreads Review – The Lost Heir (Wings of Fire #2)

The Lost Heir (Wings of Fire, #2)The Lost Heir by Tui T. Sutherland
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The second book in the Wings of Fire series centers on Tsunami the SeaWing as the Dragonets travel to her homeland. This time we’re treated to some lite political intrigue surrounding the mysterious deaths of the Queen’s royal daughters, of which Tsunami is a returning surviving heir.

The overall mystery is a bit lackluster and few of the new SeaWing characters are interesting. I also didn’t like that most of the dragonets are sidelined for the entire middle of the book, leaving just Tsunami to explore and deal with the new characters and setting. Yet that also gives her a much bigger chance to grow and develop as a character.

I’m giving it four stars like the first one because it’s still very well written, with excellent pacing and a good mix of violent action and quiet introspection. I am a bit worried that the books will feel formulaic as the dragonets travel to each different kingdom and end up as prisoners having to escape – thankfully they themselves call that out at the end of this book!

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Goodreads Review – The Dragonet Prophecy (Wings of Fire #1)

The Dragonet Prophecy (Wings of Fire, #1)The Dragonet Prophecy by Tui T. Sutherland
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This will always be a special book for me, as the first novel my 7yo asked me to read to her. We do a chapter every night!

The Dragonet Prophecy (Wings of Fire #1) is a masterclass in fantasy world-building and character development. Our five young heroes may be familiar if you enjoy certain friendship-based action-adventure cartoons. They each belong to a different dragon tribe, such as SeaWings or NightWings, each with their own unique characteristics and abilities. Yet they’ve also been imprisoned and sheltered from the outside war, knowing little of the waging dragon war going on around them.
Their bond with each other is tested and explored in fun ways, though this novel primarily focuses on Clay the MudWing and Tsunami the SeaWing. We’re eventually introduced to more characters and events in a world ruled by, and ravaged by warring dragon tribes, though it’s a bummer that our heroes spend much of the story under someone’s thumb and reacting to events rather than making choices on their own.
The Dragonet Prophecy tells a satisfying story while expertly teasing future events – the perfect starter book for a grand YA series.

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Wargroove Review [Pixelkin]

Read the full review at Pixelkin

Tactical strategy games have seen a resurgence in recent years, with excellent reboots and sequels for series like XCOM and Fire Emblem. But it’s pixel-perfect indie studio Chucklefish that has taken up the mantle of re-imagining the Advance War series (which had inspired Fire Emblem’s initial localization outside Japan).

Indie games have long filled the void of classic genres and gameplay styles left behind by bigger studios. Wargroove is the perfect example of an indie studio rebooting a beloved series while infusing their own story, with several modern improvements and an astonishing amount of content.

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ToeJam & Earl: Back in the Groove Review [Pixelkin]

Read the full review at Pixelkin

The honeymoon for nostalgia-fueled Kickstarter video game projects has long since passed. Older games and genres from the 80s and 90s inspired a treasure trove of multi-million dollar projects, to varying degrees of success. Despite the digital gold rush, I never expected one of these Kickstarter fruits to bear a new ToeJam & Earl game, let alone it be quite good.

ToeJam & Earl: Back in the Groove is the fourth game in the bizarre but strangely memorable 90s series. But it’s also a triumphant recreation of the 1991 original, which has all the early trappings of a solid roguelike dungeon crawler, that happens to star a pair of funky aliens. While some gameplay elements are quite frustrating, Back in the Groove is dripping with 90s charm, lots of replayability, and fantastic co-op.

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Goodreads Review – I Shall Wear Midnight

I Shall Wear Midnight (Discworld, #38; Tiffany Aching, #4)I Shall Wear Midnight by Terry Pratchett
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I enjoyed the fourth novel in Pratchett’s Tiffany Aching series much more than the previous two. The first one is a classic coming of age adventure, while the second focuses on social drama among tween girls (yeesh) and the third an annoyingly awkward pining romance (double yeesh).

The fourth book, however, stars an older teenage Tiffany, comfortably seated as the witch of her lands. The new villain is yet another malevolent force and too similar to book 2’s hiver. But what made it a wonderful read was the fantastic, complex relationship between Tiffany, Roland (the young prince, now grown up), and Roland’s new fiance Letitia.
Pratchett smartly stays far away from a tiresome teen love triangle, allowing all the characters to breathe, develop, and interact in a much more likable, but still dramatic, way. Plus we’re given a fun side jaunt to Ankh-Morpork, including guest stars from the City Watch series. It also provides a satisfying ending, though there’s one more book to go.

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Monster Boy and the Cursed Kingdom Review [Pixelkin]

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Nostalgia for the action-platformers of the 80s and 90s have helped fuel the modern indie game industry, from spiritual successors to direct recreations. Monster Boy and the Cursed Kingdom is a modern take on the old and underrated Wonder Boy series.

The first new Wonder Boy game since 1994 has been given an astonishing overhaul, with gorgeous hand-drawn animations, a bombastic musical score, and a lengthy campaign that hits every checkbox of regional themes. Unfortunately it also dregs up some of the more unforgiving challenges and obtuse puzzle designs of that era, holding back an otherwise fantastic original entry.

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Goodreads Review – The Ring of Winter

The Ring of Winter (Forgotten Realms: The Harpers, #5)The Ring of Winter by James Lowder
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Primarily read because of any possible ties to our ongoing Tomb of Annihilation campaign. It’s a short, easy read with paper-thin characters, but it’s a decent little swashbuckling adventure in the jungles of Chult. Too many goblins and not enough of everything else, however, as Artus Cimber hunts the Ring of Winter, befriends goofy talking wombats, battles dinosaurs, and meets the immortal defenders of Mezro. The brief but intriguing Ras Nsi cameo and the climax featuring the unleashed Ring of Winter are the most relevant sections to ToA, though Artus himself is a generically boring hero. Not a horrible book but not exactly a memorable adventure.

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