Category Archives: Reviews



In-game dialogue (paraphrased):

Finch grapples with [bad guy] at the railing of the airship. He manages to get off a shot, just as they are both forced over the edge. Finch and [bad guy] tumble over the edge of the airship. You hear a splash just before fading into unconsciousness.


My outraged cry was heard by no one, and echoed uselessly against the white walls of my apartment. My eyes kept searching the game page for a back button, wanting desperately to change that last mouse click, and try to save my in-game hubby. Falling off the side of an airship was such an undignified way to go, and I was suddenly embarrassed that I’d completely missed every single Sherlock Holmes reference earlier in the game, else I might have avoided this disaster. I guess that’s what I get for being only 82% perceptive.


( I’d claim those “P”s stood for “Pragmatic” and “Perceptive”, but really I just mucked up entering my name, and wound up with 2 middle initials. )

 What was I playing, you ask?

That would be A Study in Steampunk: Choice by Gaslight. A “277,000 word epic interactive mystery novel”. Or, as I was starting to think of it in my head, the “WHERE IS THE BACK BUTTON?!” game. The player (me) would be presented with a scenario, given choices as to how to react to said scenario, and then the game would move the story forward based upon the player’s choice. Sounds simple enough, and follows the same basic premise as most cut scenes and dialogue interactions from other video games—or so you think.

Let me give you an example of this game’s diabolical design:


Most games would let you choose an option, see what happens, and if you didn’t like it, you could simply retry that section of the game in an effort to beat the bad guy. But *this* game, oooh no. *This* game makes you reap the consequences of your actions—no do-overs, no retries, unless you want to completely restart the game with a new character…Which is how I found myself, 3 chapters in, accidentally gay-married to my work-partner flat-mate.

I should probably explain that the game starts you out as a male character, and then helpfully provides opportunities for romancing “men, women, both, or neither!”, as you see fit. Granted, out of the 3+ options I’d had for romance so far, I actually like my flat-mate best out of all of them, and would have pursued him whether I been made a male or female character. So I suppose it wasn’t all that bad when my nervous mouse-tapping habit got the better of me, and decided to make my in-game life a bit more interesting by selecting “yes” to his wedding proposal.

But I still really should have seen the airship death coming.

Poor bloke.

The game author had laid everything out so nicely for me, I really had no excuse:

  • I was a doctor, a crack-shot marksman, and an army vet.
  • My work-partner and flat-mate, Finch, was *extremely perceptive*, to the point of knowing your vocation from the callouses on your fingertips.
  • The super-secret bad guy we were chasing was named “The Professor”.
  • At one point, the game offered me the chance to romance a sweet, practical, and brave girl who happened to be the daughter of an army captain.
  • We were fighting a boss-battle in a high-up locale.

I’m sure there were plenty of other, smaller, references that I’ve completely glossed over.

But what I really want to know is why this diabolical mental-torture-device-of-a-game decided to get my hopes up for having a truly wonderful, elicit, in-game romance, and then KILLED MY LOVER barely half a chapter later!

It burns my biscuits!

I mean, after saving his ass like 4 times in the game, (including one really daring rescue where I killed 4 men, tied up a 5th, and then dumped us both in the river before dragging his mostly unconscious ass to the hospital), I just really hope that Sherlock reference better hold true, and he better damn well come back from the dead, because I put in a lot of effort into accidentally romancing that dude!

Ranting aside, I’m having a brilliant time. Aside from wanting to reincarnate my elicit lover, I would wish for 2 things added to the game:

  • A chapter map, so you can go back and replay any chapter after you’ve beaten it the first time.
  • The ability to make multiple characters so that you can play through with whichever moral-standard you feel like using that day. (I mean really, there are just some days when you *need* to be chaotic evil!)

I suppose that I should probably mention that I’m the sort of person who never plays video games. (Unless you count the few times in a group setting where we took bets on how quickly I could die, or watched as I managed to massacre my own teammates.)(The record, fyi, for fastest death is under 6 seconds—I dropped and stepped on my own grenade, and not on purpose.) (Seriously, there are reasons I don’t play video games.) So the fact that I’m playing this game at all means that it has to be pretty good. And that’s likely not at all influenced by my spending most of my pocket change on books. No, that definitely has nothing at all to do with my interest in a literary-styled non-animated choices-only propelled game. Nothing at all.

Now that I’ve figured out the whole Sherlock thing, I guarantee the game will change completely until once again, someone I love dangles on the edge of a precipice, (or in the clawed hands of a giant mech), and too late I will realize that it’s been hinting at this outcome for the last 4 chapters, but I’m only 82% perceptive and only 35% quick, and OOPS, they’re dead!


But darnit, I’m so ready for this shit. Bring it!

I will see your challenge, “Choice by Gaslight”, and raise you one slightly-inept-yet-occasionally-lucky accidental-mouse-clicking white-girl-in-control round of play!

Stay tuned for Holly Plays a Video Game, Part 2: Will I Ever Fall In Love Again?!


You can find another review of “A Study in Steampunk” HERE

Game is available on STEAM for between $2.99 – $3.99

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BOOK REVIEW: “The Magicians” by Lev Grossman


I have two words: Unmitigated Disaster.


In fact, to call it that might almost be an understatement. I will never understand how some books wind up on the bestseller lists.

Let me be clear: If you like self-hating characters thrust into an urban fantasy with no satisfying resolution and stolen plot ideas, then this is *totally* the book for you. If that’s not your thing, then I would steer clear of Grossman’s novel.

It’s entirely possible that the second and third books in the series will somewhat redeem the first, but since I cannot get over how much I disliked The Magicians, I will never read them. Darn.

Now, I don’t dislike this book because it’s a dark urban fantasy where people die and never achieve their dreams. Oh, no. I like a grimdark novel as much as the next GOT fan—probably more so. Seriously: add sex, and murder, and as much mayhem as you want. I don’t care if the princess gets rescued, or the kingdom gets saved, or if every hero in the bunch dies. I just want *something* to happen. Potentially something *interesting*. And I want it to happen in an *interesting* and *entertaining* fashion. That’s one of the reasons why I read books—to be entertained. Even if it’s dark, serious entertainment.

Instead, I was bored.


And it wasn’t even an accounting manual!

merida-headdesk1I was bored at 30 pages in, and I was still bored at 150 pages. But I kept reading because the little voice in the back of my head kept going “It has to get better…”

Next time, I’ll listen to the little voice.


wrongAccording to Wikipedia, a review by The A.V. Club, (a non-satirical offshoot of The Onion), stated the theme of the book to be “a sad dream of what it means to want something badly and never fully reach it”. (Quoted here.) So I suppose looking at that, then this book definitely lives up to its ideals. I should applaud Grossman—I wanted something to happen, and something never did, which essentially turned me into one of his always-complaining characters.

But only briefly, because after this review, I will be done thinking about The Magicians, and will move on to something much more interesting…which Grossmans’ poor characters will never be able to do.



Let me also mention Grossman’s blatant thievery of C.S. Lewis’s Narnia.

3aa26ec9d96343d1fb218d2db43c757b27454faf910160ae4394eaa0bfe8a06dC.S. Lewis is a true magician of words, and it was really sad to see someone using a fan-fictionalized version of his creations in such an uncreative and (need I really say it?) boring way.

I’m honestly surprised Lev Grossman’s agents weren’t slapped with a million copyright infringement suits, but I suppose that’s today’s world: Anything can get published as a ‘new thing’, as long as you change a few names, draw a new map, and maybe introduce one new plot device.

Takes me right back to the days of Twilight and 50 Shades…

ecacaa9bec0642dfe7d936036914257a6c63c96aae1ccbe0ed772e62d47c52b4But setting aside the boringness and the truly uncreative use of Narnia’s lands, I think the thing that bothered me most about this book was that Grossman felt the need to wax-on for over 300 pages about how, when you have the ability to accomplish anything, you have nothing left to accomplish. I’m wondering where the rationality is in that theory, and how that wound up being the theoretical consensus of every magician in Grossman’s entire universe.

These kids had no guide, no common sense, and no desire to find either.

They were given a truly sad and pathetic existence, wasted the very intellect their author inscribed them with, and left every reader depressed about it.



Shit, I’d rather read Selfish by Kim K than have to re-read Grossman’s horror story. And I don’t even like plastic surgery novels. (har har)

And so maybe I’m being a bit dramatic. But you know what?

I’m not boring!


For book suggestions and a ridiculously long reading list, check me out on Goodreads HERE.

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sense8_headerFinally, a sci-fi show that’s not afraid of tackling sex and gender issues! With a positive representation of the LGBT community, boundary pushing mental orgies, and openly gay main characters (including a lovely trans mtf lady), it makes the Wachowskis’ strange obsession with filming birthing mothers almost forgivable. (Seriously, who wants to look at a stretched, bloody vagina with a baby’s mushy head poking through it?)

Speaking of the Wachowskis, Sense8 is the clear next step on the podium of their work. It combines Cloud Atlas’ twisted and confusing plot devices with V for Vendetta’s startling alacrity to depict government conspiracies around every corner. Add a dash of Matrix-like multiple realities, and you’ve got an idea of what you’ll see in Season 1. Now, if we can ignore Straczynski’s prolific character exposition, the show is actually pretty good. In my opinion, it spends a little too much time defining the individual stories of each character. I mean, when you have upwards of ten main characters, it does take time to develop their backstories, but usually simpler is better when you already have a plot involving 8 psychically linked people trying to avoid a government conspiracy.

Let’s take a quick look at our 8 mentally-intertwined (and slightly incestuous) siblings: I really enjoyed the variety of characters, and the high quantity of strong females. The quality of their relationships with one another makes me hopeful for humanity. Here is a group of basically decent people, (Wolfgang doesn’t turn trigger happy until close to the end of the season), who stick up for each other regardless of race, gender, religion, or sexual orientation. You can’t ask for a better overall message than that!



SUN BAK: She is definitely my favorite! She is one sexy, smart, badass chica! Those Muay-Thai moves of hers would fit right in in any Van Damme or Jackie Chan flick. I loved every serious-faced second of on-screen Sun time.


“I take allllll that emotion, and I push it down into my fists.”

CAPHEUS: I love Capheus’ attitude and respect for family. His sunny disposition and sensible optimism made me smile every time he came onscreen. And the Van Damme Van—I mean, who couldn’t love that??

“Van Damme always comes back!”

NOMI: I *love* the fact that Sense8’s character roster included a badass trans woman. This show took a brave step in the direction of positive LGBT community portrayals. Using Nomi’s character to illuminate and target some serious discrimination issues against the LGBT community was a pleasing change in the attitude of major network PR. I suppose we really shouldn’t be surprised at this exceptionally modern viewpoint, given the proclivities of one Lana Wachowski. (Previously, the Wachowskis used to be known as the Wachowski Brothers, until “Larry” underwent the change to “Lana”.) Still, it was nice to see.

“The real violence, the violence I realized was unforgivable, is the violence we do to ourselves when we’re too afraid to be who we really are.”

WOLFGANG: Oh. My. Gawd. Excuse me while I fangirl out a moment. I’m fairly certain Max Riemelt is one of the sexiest men on television, and not just because he isn’t shy about showing off his pecker on screen. That scowly face of his is just so cute when he gets all serious and gangsta! Gotta love that sex-appeal factor. His interplay with Kala makes me so happy—“Oh god, you are a demon!”.

“He’s my brother. And not by something as accidental as blood. By something much stronger.

By choice.”

LITO: Speaking of sexy men….Between Lito and his boyfriend Hernando, I’m not sure who’s sexier. Add in Daniela’s ass, and holy cow! That’s one heck of a trio of hotsimama! But anyway, Lito’s character is kind of hilarious. I mean, Latino Soap Opera star? You can’t get more dramatically awesome than that. And Those Pants! I seriously cannot get over Those Pants…They’re so tight, it makes me wonder how he fits all his junk in there. If you watch closely enough, you can actually see that they make him walk funny. Epic.

“We will all be judged by the courage of our hearts.”

KALA: Tina Desai is such a beautiful girl! I loved watching her in The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, and I loved seeing her again in Sense8. Kala’s character is so sweet, and her clothes are GORGEOUS!!! One of her dresses has become the object of a future sewing project for me, because I just cannot get over how fabulous it is. But I think what I loved best about Kala was her sweet nature. She’s the Belle to Wolfgang’s Beast, and the gentle conscience of the siblings. I really enjoyed her monologue about science and faith being intermingled.

“My love for science doesn’t preclude my faith. It’s only that science is another language we use to talk to about the same miracles that faith talks about.”

“But one language makes sense, one doesn’t…”

“Sense? Like quantum physics? Like a particle that can be here, and not be? Or sense like gravity? A force no one knows why it exists. Only that, if it didn’t exist…if there wasn’t this mysterious attraction, this pull between objects…none of this would exist either.”

“Thank god for gravity.”


Next to Sun’s badassery, Kala’s intellectualism and gentleness makes her my other favorite character.

“Oh my god! You *are* a demon!”

WILL: Cute. Hoo-RA, Chicago Police! Buuuuuut, a little lack-luster in the character department. He basically seems to be there to bring the team together when Riley needs help. I’ll admit his handcuff picking skills are handy, but hey, anyone can learn that from a 5 minute youtube video, or a kink 101 class… His one redeeming moment is that interchange between himself and Lito in the last episode. (“Do I know you?” “We had sex.” “Uhhmmmm…” “It was special.” “Ah…”)

“But it’s such a nice car!”

RILEY: Oh, that poor, poor broken girl. Quel dramatique! Our little emo dj… Well, I think we can make a pretty good guess that she’ll be the one to give birth to the new sensate in future episodes. The mother motif that runs through her script is so strong, I’m surprised it didn’t slap me upside the head while I was watching the show. Despite that, I think she’s almost as inconsequential a character as Will. (Again, her biggest moment is in the season finale when she becomes the target of rescue.) I’ll be interested to see how her character develops through the next season, but I’m hoping they’ll give her a bit more personality, and maybe some backbone.



While I enjoyed the show, the only episode that truly wowed me was the season finale. I think I may have kept watching the series waiting for that moment when the team would come together and start using their powers effectively, with panache. It was gratifying to see it happen. Finally. After 12 episodes. Despite the drawn out and convoluted story development, I think that Sense8 does a fantastic job of bringing up important gender-related social issues in a positive light. Because of that, I give it a 8/10 rating. If I were just basing my rating on plot, character development, and script, it would be a 7-7.5/10. Still very good, but not the best show I’ve ever seen. There’s room for improvement in future seasons, and it definitely has potential for becoming a mind blowing series. I think the writer(s) just need to be careful about putting too much detail into the script. With 8+ main characters, simpler is better.

For another highly funny take on the show, here’s a link to UPROXX’s “Confessions of A Sense8 Viewer Who Has No Idea What Is Happening So Far”. It’s seriously funny, and points out the script prevarications and character confusion which lowered my score down to a 7-7.5. Enjoy!

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