Hey Ian, Watcha Into Lately?

It’s been a while since I did one of these, so I thought it might be fun! Is it? YOU CAN BE THE JUDGE. I HAVE NO AGENCY.

*ahem*

Without further ado–

Books

Star Wars: Aftermath: Empire’s End by Chuck Wendig

I’d gotten about 1/3rd of the way into this book and put it down because I ended up busy with other things, and only recently picked it back up. I’m so glad I did. I’m loving it. The characters are well established at this point, and Wendig is having a field day by having them bounce off each other and showing just how much each character has grown since the start of the series. Conder also made a triumphant return, which was more than I was expecting from a relative side character from book two. This makes me incredibly happy, because non-LGBT-specific literature needs more gay boyfriends, even if, at the point of the story I’m in, they’re ex-boyfriends. I’m very much rooting for him and Sinjir, and I hope I’m not disappointed. The action is well-written, and Wendig’s pacing is on-point as always. Even the interludes, often just used to paint a picture of the broader galaxy, are tying into themselves in new and interesting ways.

I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson

Jill recommended this book to me many moons ago, but I haven’t gotten around to reading it until now. I’m stalled about halfway through, because I’m a fool and started reading this while I was still in the middle of Empire’s End, but I really like what I’ve read so far. Jude and Noah have very distinct voices, and that they vary so much with age is even more impressive. I’m waiting for my feelings to get stomped on later in the book, as the anachronistic order is definitely setting me up for something. I just haven’t figured out what yet.

Shrinks: The Untold Story of Psychiatry by Jeffrey A. Lieberman

My current audiobook, Shrinks presents an in-depth history of psychiatry that fully owns up to the profession’s checkered past. Its been interesting so far, in no small part because of some of the completely bonkers theories that people have come up with over the years to explain mental illness. It bugs me a bit that Lieberman has a quite understandable (he is the head of the APA), but still very present, agenda throughout the book, where he always paints modern psychiatry as good. It only bugs me because there’s an implication that the combination of therapy and medication is the way to go. That said, he’s often discussing maladies an order of magnitude more difficult to treat than my own relatively garden-variety anxiety/depression, so I mostly understand. I’m looking forward to listening to more of this, but I will have to limit it somewhat, if only because the narrator has a soothing voice that can lead to me getting drowsy. Which isn’t good when I’m driving a car.

TV/Movies

Hunter x Hunter

A splash image for the anime Hunter X Hunter, which displayes the title as well as four main characters: Killua, Gon, Kurapika, and Leorio.

The boyfriend and I are still working out way through this. It ran aground on a stretched-out section of its current arc, but is finally making significant story progress again as we get (relatively) close to the end of what’s been released so far. I’m a little bummed about the power creep that’s occurred since the start of the show, which it neatly avoided for the first stretch, but so it goes with most shonen anime. Now if only Gon can stop casually disregarding Killua’s feelings, I’ll be a completely happy camper.

Wonder Woman

An image of Gal Gadot as wonder woman, kneeling on a beach at sunset. Her sword is planted in the ground in front of her, her left hand on the hilt. She holds her shield in her right hand. She is wearing her full armor, and her hair is teased lightly in the breeze. Her head is slightly bowed, as if in contemplation.

More Wonder Woman now, please! Or Ms. Marvel! Or the other awesome female heroes! Source.

I managed to see this just a hair after opening weekend, and I loved it. The movie has its flaws, sure, but it’s a triumphant example of the superhero genre and is probably tied with the first Captain America movie in terms of how much I love it. Really nice visuals and solid acting throughout. I think my favorite thing is that while Diana is more than willing to fight, she never seems too happy with the death of anyone, and she’s not a war-monger. The compassion allowed for her character throughout the movie is pretty much my favorite thing, and something we could use a lot more of in superhero and war movies. I’m also a total dork for WWI, so setting it in that era made me very happy. (It just needed more biplanes!)

Games

Crusader Kings II

A screenshot of the gameplay from Crusader Kings 2. A map of Europe is crowded with various counties, and a couple of pop-up windows display information about the current ruler of one of them and other information.

Holy shitsnacks, that’s a lot of information to take in. Source.

I’m finally starting to get into Crusader Kings II, although it has been slow going. I played through the tutorial, which is very bare bones given the complexity of the game, and then wasn’t sure what to do with myself. Django very helpfully pointed me to a series of Youtube video tutorials, but now I’m stuck on feeling like I need to watch all of those before I play again. Which is silly, but that’s my brain for you. I’m looking forward to learning more about it and then diving back in. I’ll just need some goals in mind, because the game is wide-open with no set objectives, and I found myself at a loss as for what to do. I’m determined to play, though, because of the very fun emergent storytelling that results from this game. I hope I can half as much fun as Django seems to be having in his This Is How I Vike series. My current dream is to create a Scottish empire, but we’ll see where my gameplay ends up taking me.

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

Link, in his boxer shorts, in in discussion with a man next to a fire. The man is observing that Link is quite studly, and the dialogue options presented to the player are to exit the conversation or express confusion.

A completely representative screenshot. COMPLETELY. Source.

Meanwhile, I’ve been playing more of this. I’d put it down after a couple weeks of sporadic play, but I recently discovered it’s the perfect AAA game to play in half-hour increments, so I’ve been using it as a brain-break between tasks or to keep myself awake while I’m taking a break from doing things like housework. The world is beautiful and fun to explore, but I’m not fully sold on the advancement cycle they’ve set up yet. My main issue is that it’s hard to become particularly durable, which makes some of the challenges extremely difficult to complete. Lucky for me, there’s enough puzzle challenges I should be able to advance. I just want some armor!

I’m also struggling with the fact that I often really don’t want to fast-travel back to a town, but I’m essentially out of supplies and need to do some cooking to make more, which is easier within the walls of civilization. I also keep running out of arrows, which cost a lot, and sometimes end up in a downward spiral of not having any appropriately durable/damaging weapons, which can make combat challenges impossible to complete. I figure I’ll learn some better tricks for stocking up eventually, and it’s not stopping me from bopping around and having fun, but they do put a damper on what would otherwise be a purely fun exploration/trial/combat cycle.

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And that’s it for what I’ve been into recently. How about you? Reading anything good? Watching anything neat? Playing anything fun? I do love comments, recommendations, and conversation, so let me know down below. 🙂

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