Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Koudelka (soundtrack)

This was a decent survivor horror game with a tactical battle system, although it had no music most of the time, and what music it did have is decent. The main battle theme "Waterfall" is nice and takes a long time to loop, although the main boss theme, "Incantation," sounds a bit off-key. "Patience" is another boss theme that sounds good. The event music is largely forgettable, and this soundtrack certainly isn't required listening overall. 

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

Major spoilers for the main Harry Potter series.

Series creator J.K. Rowling, alongside John Tiffany, wrote this play serving as a follow-up to the former’s Harry Potter books, opening with the Potters and Weasleys meeting at Platform 9 ¾, with Albus Severus, Harry’s second son, worried about being sorted into Slytherin during his initiation into Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, his father assuring that he doesn’t care which House he’s inducted into, following the epilogue to Deathly Hallows. On the Hogwarts Express, Albus talks with his cousin, Rose Granger-Weasley, and Draco Malfoy’s son Scorpius, whose mother Astoria’s illness plays part in the narrative’s events.

Rumor has it that Lord Voldemort fathered a child before his demise, with Scorpius fearful about being a potential candidate of the Dark Lord’s bloodline. Furthermore, life at Hogwarts doesn’t exactly go the way Albus wished, although he and Scorpius become and remain good friends during the story, countering their parents’ rivalry. Harry currently works at the Ministry of Magic, discussing a seized Time-Turner formerly owned by Theodore Nott that can go even further backwards through time than that Hermione, now Minister of Magic, used in their third year to take supplemental courses, and which were all supposedly destroyed in Order of the Phoenix.

Amos Diggory, father of the late Triwizard Tournament champion Cedric and now living at a retirement home for antediluvian magicians, thinks Harry is shutting him out, the Potter patriarch denying the opportunity for him to go back in time and save his son from murder at Lord Voldemort’s hands. Albus overhears this conversation, as does a nurse named Delphini, who claims to be Cedric’s cousin and Amos’ niece. Throughout the play, Harry reflects on the past, although Voldemort taunts him towards the end of each of his reflections, and his scar actually begins to hurt again.

One year on the way northward to Hogwarts, Albus and Scorpius bail from the school’s eponymous train to steal the Time-Turner from the Ministry and go back in time to make Cedric flub in the Tournament and prevent his demise, although doing so has dire consequences demanding rectification, with several alternative timelines exposed with unsatisfactory events. The play is generally a good one, and this reviewer certainly wouldn’t mind seeing it performed, although the time-travel element has been executed by other media such as The Butterfly Effect. Even so, it’s a decent continuation of the Harry Potter pantheon, introducing a new generation of engaging characters.

Monday, May 28, 2018

The Enigma Dragon Spotlight

Book Details:

Book Title: The Enigma Dragon: A CATS Tale (The Enigma Series Book 9)
Authors: Charles V Breakfield and Roxanne E Burkey
Category: Adult Fiction, 360 pages
Genre: Thriller, TechnoThriller
Publisher: ICABOD Press
Release date: Oct 5, 2017
Tour dates: May 28 to June 22, 2018
Content Rating: PG-13 + M (There are some descriptive sex scenes but not throughout)

Book Description:

Do the vast amounts of information and technology available hold humans hostage? Does analog communication create a vulnerability?

The political climate in the world is unnerving. North Korea is running missile tests, but where are they getting their deadly supplies? Meanwhile, terrorists are hiding in plain sight, using American technology that is out on display in libraries and museums for the world to see, but are using analog methods to gather and assemble their information. No internet searches equal no red flags which lets the bad guys believe they are operating undetected. But the Cyber Assassin Technology Services (CATS) team is on the job. As Juan and Julie Rodríguez send their operatives out across the globe to track down these foot soldiers also known as Analog Information Mules, they'll discover the horrible potential treats, and learn about each other along the way.

Mike and Marge control ePETRO, an oil shipping business with offices in London and New York, but they don't have the same business goals in mind. Marge intends to sell the North Koreans uranium in addition to oil obtained illegally from the government-sanctioned Middle East. But Mike may have other plans, mainly, keeping the profits of these sales for himself. Then there is the mysterious Steven Christopher, who oversees the AIMs, and is working several angles behind the scenes. Steven is the only one trusted by both Marge and Mike, but why?

The CATs team has feet on the ground, with Ernesto and Tyler following two women through Washington, D.C. as they visit the Smithsonian looking for nuclear fusion processes and down the Texas coast where a dangerous package makes its way onto a ship bound for Asia. Jamie, an Irish man with a heartbreaking past, joins the team in Texas and finds not only a new job, but acceptance. George and Summit travel across Asia following the oil and some suspiciously mislabeled furniture. After a rocky start at being paired up, Mercedes and Brayson head to Panama and are watching a previously known Dark Net data center, but Mercedes is soon extracted to help out in D.C. She quickly becomes embroiled in Steven Christopher's world. Brayson is left behind alone in Panama and, still recovering from a lost love, learns that he can't truly be a part of the team until he has forgiven himself.

While Juan stays with Quip and his supercomputer ICABOD, tracking his team members and relaying constantly updated information at the team's nerve center, Julie heads to London. Julie finds herself in the center of all the trouble as she goes undercover in the ePETRO offices. When Julie disappears, Juan drops everything to find her. Quip loops his wife EZ, a Unified Communications expert, to help monitor and control the CATS team movements so that operatives can find the culprits in their different theaters of operation.

Award-winning authors, Breakfield and Burkey, take readers on a new techno-thriller adventure with their 9th book in The Enigma Series. The Enigma Dragon is a chilling journey across four continents, and twelve cities that uncovers terrifying possibilities of what is to become of our world if the CATS team cannot defeat our enemies.

To follow the tour, please visit Breakfield & Burkey's page on iRead Book Tours.

Buy the Book:

Watch the book trailer:

Meet the Authors:

Charles Breakfield
Charles holds a master’s degree and works for a high-tech manufacturer as a solution architect, functioning in hybrid data/telecom environments. A long-time technology geek, Charles enjoys writing, studying World War II history, travel, and cultural exchanges. He’s also a fan of wine-tastings, riding his Harley, and continues developing his woodworking skills. Now included in people on the move in Dallas Business Journal.

Roxanne Burkey
Roxanne has two passions – working with technology and writing. She enjoys working to drive optimized customer experiences with technology in her role with a high-tech manufacturer. Texas is home for her and her family. When time permits Rox likes gardening, hiking, sewing, refinishing antiques, exploring, wine-tasting, and traveling. She loves to listen to people which often results in odd treasures that come to life in her stories. Now included in people on the move in Dallas Business Journal.

Connect with the authors: Website ~ Twitter ~ Facebook ~ Pinterest ~ Instagram

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Ends June 30, 2018

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Gaming Update, 28 May 2018

An image of the Breath of the Wild's boxart
I have one Divine Beast subdued and am in another shrine, ready to try out the challenge that awaits me. I'll likely spend my next orbs on stamina since I need more to get to the companion shrine to the lower one atop one of the Dueling Peaks.

Resonance of Fate Cover Art.jpg
Still in Chapter 14. I got a ton of Bezel Shards from an unexplored area of the overworld, and consequentially two additional action points for battle. I've still been farming green hexes and doing the arena on the side, linking terminals to it for max benefits in battle.

I got to Chapter 2, and have more Yen and Completion Points to spend. I'll probably stock up on healing items as well since the boss fight at the end of the previous chapter slightly taxed my consumable items, and it's better safe than sorry.

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Shannara Triple Threat

The final entry of author Terry Brooks’ original Shannara trilogy occurs about a score after its predecessor Elfstones, with autumn having come in the Four Lands, and Brin Ohmsford, sister to brother Jair, taking in the sights, being the daughter of Eretria and Wil Ohmsford. Jair and Brin’s parents are readying for an annual fall pilgrimage to the outlying communities south of Shady Vale, with the siblings having the friendship of Rone Leah, great-grandson of Menion Leah who sought the Sword of Shannara, Rone having his own weapon, the Sword of Leah.

Allanon visits them, having need of Brin’s titular wishsong powers, with Mord Wraiths, conjured by a book known as the Ildatch, threatening the Four Lands, their stronghold deep in the Eastland high in the Ravenshorn mountains, called Graymark. Jair and Brin ultimately separate on their quest, with the former making the acquaintance of a Gnome named Slanter, whose chieftain, Spilk, having some sort of psychotic issues making him dangerous. The Weapons Master Garet Jax eventually comes and rescues Jair from his initial captivity with the Gnomes.

Various battles occur throughout the book’s remainder, with other characters coming into play such as Kimber Boh, who has a moor cat named Whisper, alongside her grandfather, Cogline. The conclusion to the initial Shannara trio is generally enjoyable, although some reminders as to the appearances of the various characters would have certainly been welcome, and one can easily forget which Races to which each character belongs. Even so, those that enjoyed other entries of the franchise will very likely enjoy the third installment.

Note: The following two reviews contain potential spoilers for Wishsong.

This short story occurs a few years after author Terry Brooks’ The Wishsong of Shannara, with Jair Ohmsford again a protagonist, dealing with his sister Brin’s warning not to use a special kind of magic, and dreaming regularly about Garet Jax. The two siblings have since lived in separate arrangements, Brin living in the Highlands with her husband Rone Leah. The news that a page of the Ildatch escaped incineration comes to fruition, with Kimber’s grandfather Cogline tasking Jair with the quest to destroy it, further providing a critical detail about his past.

Jair has dreams of visitation by the Druid Allanon, which Cogline interprets as proof a shade still lives, with Jair ultimately going to the Mwellret stronghold of Dun Fee Aran to find and destroy the remaining Ildatch page. Overall, this is a short and sweet short story that fans of the Shannara series are sure to enjoy, although those who are new to the franchise probably won’t make much of it, given its deep connection to Wishsong, and it’s only after reading that particular entry of the original Shannara trilogy that readers will come to appreciate this novella more.

This is the first and only graphic novel based on author Terry Brooks’ Shannara series, with a prologue catching new readers up to speed on the original trilogy, the first main chapter focusing on the latter events of “Indomitable.” Throughout the story, Jair is regularly tempted to make use of his power and assume the abilities of his protégé Garet Jax, with potential evidence that the Druid Keep of Paranor might still exist. It was nice seeing visual references for the characters in Wishsong, and aside from occasional grammar errors in the text bubbles, this is a worthy read.

Art by nlorier

King Odin headshot-01
by jmg124 on DeviantArt

Friday, May 25, 2018

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

The final main entry of author J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter pantheon opens with the resurrected magical Hitler Lord Voldemort conversing with his servants, among them being Snape. News arises of Nymphadora Tonks marrying Remus Lupin, although the sisters Bellatrix Lestrange and Narcissa Malfoy are indifferent to their disowned sibling Andromeda Tonks’ daughter's wedding. When the action goes to Harry, he reads an article dedicated to the memory of murdered Hogwarts Headmaster Albus Dumbledore, as well as a scathing report by quintessential yellow journalist Rita Skeeter delving into the wizard’s troubled past.

Harry is in his final summer with the Dursleys, who are still somewhat apprehensive about his magical talents, although Dudley is somewhat redeemed, going so far as to not consider his maternal cousin a waste of space. Members of the Order of the Phoenix come to spirit away Harry, with a few of them using Polyjuice Potion to disguise themselves as the Boy Who Lived, after which they take to the skies, almost immediately encountering Death Eaters, suffering casualties on their part, and landing in the garden of the Tonks household, fortunately allies.

Harry can’t do anything about the Horcruxes, objects sporting divisions of the Dark Lord’s soul for his want of immortality, until he officially turns seventeen, soon getting Dumbledore’s will promising among other things Godric Gryffindor’s sword, although the goblins that helped forge it have a claim to the blade, which is otherwise missing. When Harry does come of age, he sets off to finding the Horcruxes, during which the identity of R.A.B. mentioned in the previous installment is revealed. The journey of Harry and his companions Ronald Weasley and Hermione Granger takes them to the Ministry of Magic, under siege by the Death Eaters and espousing an ideal pure-blooded wizarding society.

Harry goes to Godric’s Hollow, his parents’ former hometown when they lived, visiting his mother and father’s grave and historian Bathilda Bagshot, although she has a secret. When the action fo the Death Eaters stagnates, the gang goes to the home of Xenophilius Lovegood, father of Luna, who talks about the titular Deathly Hallows, which might be critical in the Dark Lord’s downfall. Harry and companions ultimately get captured and brought to the pure-blooded Malfoy household, after which is an attempted infiltration of the Lestrange family vault for want of another Horcrux.

The trio returns to Hogwarts, which has fallen under hard times due to a new Headmaster not to mention the discipline and teaching of sibling Death Eaters, the Carrows, another Horcrux allegedly hidden on the campus. The action culminates in a final confrontation with Lord Voldemort, and an epilogue occurring one year short of a score later. Overall, the final main entry of the Harry Potter series is definitely a satisfying conclusion, breaking the trend of its precursors with Harry shunning his education, and is a good end to the eponymous protagonist’s bildungsroman.