Book review: The Buried Life by Carrie Patel

the buried life coverThe Buried Life
Author: Carrie Patel
Genre: Dystopian, SF
Publisher: Angry Robot
Release Date: July 29, 2014 (North America), August 7, 2014 (UK)
Note: this book was provided by the publisher via NetGalley.
Blurb:

The gaslight and shadows of the underground city of Recoletta hide secrets and lies. When Inspector Liesl Malone investigates the murder of a renowned historian, she finds herself stonewalled by the all-powerful Directorate of Preservation – Ricoletta’s top-secret historical research facility.
When a second high-profile murder threatens the very fabric of city society, Malone and her rookie partner Rafe Sundar must tread carefully, lest they fall victim to not only the criminals they seek, but the government which purports to protect them. Knowledge is power, and power must be preserved at all costs…

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5 Video Game Futures That Could Be Awesome

Sometimes the present is boring and the future takes too long to get here. No hover cars, no robots, not a single alien. In video games we get to see the possibilities for the future good, but mostly bad. But I don’t think the bad is really all that bad. If you look from the right angle, some of these video game futures are kind of awesome.

1. BorderlandsBorderlands2boxart3

If you’re a psycho or a bandit in the Borderlands future your life expectancy is probably not very promising.
However the Borderlands future is an entrepreneur’s dream. From magic powers to treasure chests everywhere you turn, it’s a wondrous place for those with plans and ambition. Would you like to run a bar like Moxie? Maybe have an army of brutes like Handsome Jack? Or, maybe you’d like to start a simple minion  operation like Claptrap? It’s all possible!
Sir Hammerlock is an anthropologist of sorts and even though he’s lost a limb or two, he’s having a ball. Of course there’s a constant threat of death an destruction and the wildlife is out to get you, but that just spices up life on Pandora.
What’s the fun in  just safely walking from point A to Point B with no threat of being stomped or devoured?!

2. Mass EffectMasseffectlogo

Ignoring the very end, Mass Effect was a damn good future while it lasted. Unless you were sick or enslaved or from a place that got invaded while no one was watching…
But! for people who live in the Citadel or on Commander Shepard’s ship life is pretty fun. There are so many different aliens to mingle with. Different planets are waiting to be mined for resources or treasure. There are bazaars for buying, discos for dancing, and beautiful views every which way you turn. And every time you want to go somewhere, you get to hop on a space ship.
Maybe (likely) a big draw for the Mass Effect future are the characters in it. Mordin, Garraus, Harrot… Any future that produces people like that, must be a wonderful place… aside from the constant threat of  interstellar destruction.
3. HaloHalo_Generations_by_Halcylon
Sure, life on the ground might be a bit chaotic with all the indiscriminate killing and various types of grenades being thrown at the suicide grunts and highly explosive vehicles but Spartans don’t live on the ground. Hopefully no one lives on the ground considering it’s pretty much razed except for the beautiful and indestructible buildings.
Oh and how beautiful are the buildings?! If there’s a dystopian, post-apocalyptic place to be stranded, one of the Halo colonies would be perfect. If there aren’t any Spartans or Flood or Covenant or other type of weapon-wielding juggernaut around, you could make yourself quite comfortable in one of the many abandoned buildings.
Hell, even if there are killer factions around, there are piles of weapons caches as well to help you defend your turf. Most buildings also have some kind of anti-air weaponry waiting to help keep your city beautiful.
4. Resident EvilResident Evil - Apocalypse (2)
Very few people will agree with this one because it seems like Alice is the only person who survives this future without being controlled by robot spiders or locked in a coma pod. …Actually Alice might have died and been a clone or two a few times.
All that aside– and also ignoring the the fact that the zombies in this future are psychotic, monstrous  beasts– notice that the zombie populations in the Resident Evil future are in massive hordes. Massive as in the entire population of California is gathering around this one building. That means everywhere else in California is empty and worry free.
Alice is a badass but she have a 50/50 save to loss ratio for her party member (at best). If your goal is to survive, avoid Alice.
Find a comfortable place outside a city to cal home and wait for whoever is fighting in this chapter to drop some bombs on the horde and know it’s not your problem. The skies (except in the one chapter there seemed to be vicious bird things…) are clear and the air is safe to breath.The pollution is no worse than it’s been and no one interrupts your shows to tell you a celebrity is having a baby. Even the bandits have to work hard to earn their keep.
5. Dead Risingscreenlg4
In Dead Rising 2 the zombie threat is mostly under control. Under control to the point where zombies are used in entertainment.
People choose to group up around zombies to watch them get their comeuppance. The uprising was quelled and now, instead of cleanly ridding society of zombies, zombies are props and the virus is a controllable condition. This sounds so great!
Maybe zombies feel pain, maybe they don’t but using them for violent entertainment is a bit barbaric. No worries, there’s even a group of activists that fight against that part.
All that nonsense aside, this is a future where you can find work on a zombie clean up crew, the malls are open, and the zombie virus can be kept at bay with pills. A boring lunch time walk requires a solid bat, just in case.If you’re spending a day at the beach, you pack sunscreen, towels, and a crowbar!
Who doesn’t want a world that’s mainly organized but has a bit of extra spice to kick things up a notch?

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Book review: The Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson

kiss of deception coverThe Kiss of Deception
Author: Mary E. Pearson
Genre: YA Fantasy
Publisher: Holt/Macmillan Children’s
Release Date: July 15, 2014
Note: this book was provided by the publisher via NetGalley.
Blurb:

In a society steeped in tradition, Princess Lia’s life follows a preordained course. As First Daughter, she is expected to have the revered gift of sight—but she doesn’t—and she knows her parents are perpetrating a sham when they arrange her marriage to secure an alliance with a neighboring kingdom—to a prince she has never met.
On the morning of her wedding, Lia flees to a distant village. She settles into a new life, hopeful when two mysterious and handsome strangers arrive—and unaware that one is the jilted prince and the other an assassin sent to kill her. In The Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson, deception abounds, and Lia finds herself on the brink of unlocking perilous secrets—even as she finds herself falling in love.

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How to Trick People Into Liking You…

People are fairly simple creatures who are easily tricked because of their addiction to patterns and basic context cues. People want to trust you, like you, not need to kill you. Heck, you could be an asset to their team if you turn out to be someone they can trust, let their guard down around, and learn to lean on.
We see characters like Daryl on The Walking Dead become fan favorites both in and outside of the show while still being kind of dickish. That’s because in fiction people aren’t real. In fiction, people can’t have all the minutia that actual human relationships are based on.
In reality we dislike people because of their minutia and, surprise, it’s that same bit of detail that makes us either likable or leave-able.

So what are the little things we can do to trick people into liking us?

1. Ask them questions about themselves and their feelings the LISTEN to their responses.

Most people listen to respond rather than listening to understand. Think about it the next time you observe a conversation. The person who isn’t speaking hears something they think they know about and have a response poised and ready on the tip of their tongue. They’ve officially stopped listening to understand the other persons point and are just waiting for a break so they can respond.
This is rude and selfish. If you’re telling someone about your dearly departed grandmother and you see their eyebrows raise up and their mouth do that “O” shape where  they clearly have something to say about hospice facilities while you’re still talking about… Well it doesn’t matter now because clearly your audience doesn’t care.
Don’t show people you don’t care about what they’re saying by listening to respond rather than to understand. Sit, Listen, and take time to process what you’ve heard. Then respond. Keep in mind, sometimes the best response is just agreement or acknowledgement. “I hear you.” “That’s the worst.” “I can’t believe that.” “I’m so sorry you had to experience that.”

2. Be helpful when you can and give a brief reason when you can’t.

Sometimes it’s nice to just sit and do nothing or let someone take care of you. Sometimes it’s super rude even if you technically have nothing to do.
The worst thing you can say when you’re on a team or doing anything with other people is, “That’s not my job.” This one phrase is a sure way to make people side-eye you with utter, unabridged contempt. It’s worse than, “no” or “I don’t know how” or  even making an excuse that makes it clear that you don’t want it.
“That’s not my job” is somehow both dismissive, condescending, and mean. You’re rubbing it in that they still have work to do AND you’re not going to help; not because you can’t but because you just don’t want to.
It doesn’t hurt to help. If anything you gain skills and build a rapport with people through a shared struggle. And if you can’t help someone, don’t waste their time whining about all the things you have to do or how your arm hurts or whatever your real or fake reason is. They asked for help not a time suck. Again, this is selfish. This person is so busy or overwhelmed that they’ve humbled themself and asked for help.
Apologize with a sentence (not a run-on) explaining why you can’t. “Sorry, I’m in the middle of cooking these beans (they understand that the beans will burn if you leave them, you don’t need to explain).” “Sorry, I don’t know how to swim; maybe Joe does? (it’s great if you can offer an alternative; but don’t commit someone else to helping)”

3. Do what you say you’ll do.

The worst people are the people who can’t be relied on. People who can’t bother remembering to do things for others and are regularly letting people down.
It’s not just about being the kind of person that people can’t depend on, it’s about being the kind of person that makes life harder for other people. Your slack needs to be picked up or projects can’t be completed or children go hungry and die (in extreme cases).
The solution isn’t to shy away from responsibility, it’s to recognize that what you do or don’t do effects other people and get it done.

4. Try not to complain. If you must, follow up with your solution and plan.

Everyone hates their job. Everyone’s life is hard. Everyone’s body starts to fail after 25. Everyone could stand to lose a few pounds or tone up or eat better. Shut up and do something about it or just shut up.
Complaining gives people this great feeling of release because it’s good to get things off your chest– unless you’re the person listening to the complaints. Complaints are not communication. People who complain want sympathy not solutions which means there’s no real role for people who listen to complaints.
If you want advice, ask for advice. If you want to complain, get a diary or come ready with your own advice.
Like listening to understand, have conversations WITH people, not at people.

5. Mind your manners.

The weird thing about killing people with kindness it that they never seem to see it coming.  I had a roommate in college (who is alive and well to this day) who hated me– specifically she hated having a roommate. I went out of my way to pretend I didn’t notice.
I was nice to her and respectful of our space. I didn’t try to be her friend or invite her to parties. But I was kind to her friends and let her use my refrigerator and offered help when it was convenient or relevant. Eventually she and I genuinely got along swimmingly. I forgot she made me feel unwelcome and she forgot to make me feel unwelcome. The kindness ended up killing the animosity.
Being nice doesn’t cost you anything, doesn’t make you look bad, and doesn’t make life harder. Making the effort to mind your manners is not only basic decency but also the finishing touch you need to make your personality the kind that people are fond of.

So can you trick people into liking you?

Making a habit of all five of these things will guarantee more people will like you. Unfortunately these are not tricks. These are just things that people should do and other people will respond to.
You can fake them for a time, but eventually you’ll either grow to be a more likable person or your true colors will shine through and you’ll get a lot of side-eye and hear a lot of whispered conversations.
P.S.: Sorry if this headline tricked you into clicking. TLDR: some things don’t come naturally but you if you try them you might like the results.

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My Boyfriend is a Monster: I Love Him to Pieces (by Evonne Tsang)

On a whim I picked up a graphic novel from the 80% off shelf at Comicopia with low expectations and a piqued curiosity for something apocalyptic (as always). One of the books I grabbed was My Boyfriend is a Monster: I Love Him to Pieces by Evonne Tsang. This is one in a series of books about girls who love boys lacking some of the qualifications to make them human. Most of these boys are also deadly dangerous and in the case of I love Him to Pieces, deadly contagious. Le Sigh. Dumb bitches live for love.
In I Love Him to Pieces Dicey is a Jock (the only girl on the school baseball team) and Jack Chen (always referred to using his full name) is a nerd. They’re paired up together on a project to raise an egg for health class and end up getting along swimmingly. Jack Chen is awkward and doesn’t have many friends in school. He’s an only child and his parents are always away on business because they’re both scientists. Dicey on the other hand, is popular with a super close relationship with her widowed father and young brother.
Why am I telling you all of this? Because that what the books is about mostly. Page after page of a cutesy, high school relationship in its budding stages. It was well crafted and well drawn and well… if you’re looking for a zombie tale, it’s well boring.
So, against all odds (expect not really at all), Dicey and Jack decide to be a couple and go on a corny date during the school day. They ditch school and take the bus to a park where they hear police and stuff going places… Finally, the zombies!?
Psych, this is where we spend time chatting with their parents and being lame as shit.
So I won’t spoil it but this is like three quarters into the book so it’s not exactly a riveting tale of survival and mayhem.

Final Thoughts on My Boyfriend is a Monster: I Love Him to Pieces [SPOILERS]

  1. I get why this was 80% off. It’s nothing that would call for high demand. A very ordinary tale on both the romance and zombie fronts.
  2. Jack Chen’s parent’s know exactly what caused the zombie outbreak, and how to cure it and it’s totally a non-issue and all the fucks can go back in the box because there was no need to give them.
  3. The characters are kind of stick figures (not because of the art, which is good) in that they’re just very basic outlines of individuals. Jock and Nerd. Jock carries bat all the time, Nerd knows everything about all the things.
  4. This isn’t a BAD book per se. It’s just not a good book or graphic novel or story… I think a middle school girl might like it. It has that simplistic story telling and happy-go-lucky outlook that’s just not realistic for those of us well versed in the apocalyptic fiction.
  5. For 80% off, I Love Him to Pieces was worth a read. It was easy and light and good looking.

Free Comic Book Day 2014: IMAGE Comics

Gasp! Not only will there be free comics on Free Comic Book Day but Image Comics  is using this wonderful geek holiday to allow even more newbies entry into the wonderful world of comics and stories with pictures.  Image Comics is launching $1 first edition first issues!
Comics are an investment and people want to know if there worth the price of a mediocre sandwich or nah. This way you can get a variety of stories from Sex Criminals to Lazarus to try and, maybe, like.
Check out the list of Image firsts below:

ALEX + ADA #1
A sci-fi drama set in the near future and perfect for fans of the TV show Fringe and the Spike Jonze film Her. The last thing in the world Alex wanted was an X5, the latest in realistic androids. But when Ada is dropped into his life, will Alex keep her? Image Firsts edition is available with Diamond code FEB148356.
BLACK SCIENCE #1
Grant McKay, former member of The Anarchistic Order of Scientists, has finally done the impossible: he has deciphered Black Science and punched through the barriers of reality. But what lies beyond the veil is not epiphany, but chaos. Now Grant and his team are lost, living ghosts shipwrecked on an infinite ocean of alien worlds, barreling through the long-forgotten, ancient, and unimaginable dark realms. The only way is forward. The only question is how far are they willing to go, and how much can they endure, to get home again? Image Firsts edition is available with Diamond code FEB148357.
DEADLY CLASS #1
Welcome to the most brutal high school on Earth, where the world’s top crime families send the next generation of assassins to be trained. Murder is an art. Killing is a craft. At King’s Dominion High School for the Deadly Arts, the dagger in your back isn’t always metaphorical, nor is your fellow classmates’ poison. Image Firsts edition is available with Diamond code FEB148358.
EAST OF WEST #1
He has been called Abaddon. The Reaper. Fool’s Bane. The Grey Walker. You speak his name in hushed tones, if at all. You fear him and all he represents. He is the ultimate state of all things. He is Death. But, in the past, Death found peace. For his betrayal, the rest of the Four Horsemen snatched happiness away from him forever. Now, Death rides with Crow and Wolf in search of those who wronged him. We would tell you to pray, but it wouldn’t do any good. You have earned what is coming to you. Image Firsts edition is available with Diamond code FEB148359.
LAZARUS #1
In a dystopian near-future, government is a quaint concept, resources are coveted, and possession is 100% of the law. A handful of Families rule, jealously guarding what they have and exploiting the Waste who struggle to survive in their domains. Forever Carlyle defends her family’s holdings through deception and force as their protector, their Lazarus. Shot dead defending the family home, Forever’s day goes downhill from there… Image Firsts edition is available with Diamond code FEB148360.
MANIFEST DESTINY #1
In 1804, Captain Meriwether Lewis and Second Lieutenant William Clark set out on an expedition to explore the uncharted American frontier. This is the story of what they discovered lurking in the wilds… Image Firsts edition is available with Diamond code FEB148361.
PRETTY DEADLY #1
Sandman meets Preacher in PRETTY DEADLY, where Death’s daughter rides the wind on a horse made of smoke and her face bears the skull marks of her father. Her tale of retribution is as beautifully lush as it is unflinchingly savage. Image Firsts edition is available with Diamond code FEB148362.
SEX CRIMINALS #1
Suzie’s a normal girl with an extraordinary ability: when she has sex, she stops time. One night she meets Jon… who has the same gift. And so they do what any other sex-having, time-stopping, couple would do: they rob banks. Image Firsts edition is available with Diamond code FEB148363.
VELVET #1
When the world’s best secret agent is killed, Velvet Templeton, the Personal Assistant to the Director of the Agency, is drawn off her desk and back into the field for the first time in nearly 20 years… and is immediately caught in a web of mystery, murder and high-octane action. Sexy and provocative, VELVET is a dark twist on the spy genre. Image Firsts edition is available with Diamond code FEB148364.
ZERO #1
Edward Zero is the perfect execution machine—a spy who breaks the rules to get things done. When a stolen device appears in the center of a long-running conflict, Zero comes to retrieve it. The problem is, the device is inside a living, breathing, bio-modified terrorist and there’s an entire army after it. Image Firsts edition available with Diamond code FEB148365.

 

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