Tuesday, 13 December 2016

A Vital Test

Shortly after my birthday celebrations were done, I started to focus more on studying for a test.

The test in question was called Life in The UK.

It's one of the requirements for obtaining a British passport as part of the naturalisation process. It's also a test that I've attempted once and failed by a few points so, naturally, I was horribly stressed while going over questions for it every day for two weeks.

I would have tried sitting through it last year but the problems I have had in the past two years depleted my funds in their entirety. I wasn't in any financial nor mental shape to go through the whole application process at the time. However, with this year's news of the UK leaving the EU, I decided it was as good a time as any to try once more.

Yes, this book...
There's a book you're supposed to go through to prepare for the test. I read through it all, cover to cover, a few years back as preparation for my first attempt and, as mentioned before, it wasn't enough. Despite assurances from friends and family, I didn't manage to pass. So this time I approached it in a different manner, I started doing practice tests.

Every day I would sat down in front of the computer screen, click on a link to the practice tests and go through them time and time again. Of course, a lot of times I would be one point short of passing. A fact I found most infuriating but I redid them until my scores improved. I mainly took note of the terms and facts I wasn't familiar with and looked them up, while reading too much into them, as is my way.

I was stressed throughout half of November. There were nights I couldn't sleep. I'd go to bed and wake up a few hours later unable to shut my eyes for the remainder of the night. I even turned down opportunities to play games because I had to study!

I didn't think much of it when the day finally came. I made sure I packed all my documents the day before, had a day of rest, woke up and went off. With trains being as they are, I took an early one. Fortunately, my way to Croydon had only one problem in that the automatic doors at my destination's station refused to read my ticket. I was let out without a fuss though and headed off to the test centre. I passed a music shop with violins on display, always a good sign.

When I entered the centre, I was informed that I don't have to wait for my specified time and may do the test straight away. I presented my documents, they checked my ears for bluetooth devices and asked me to roll up my sleeves before I was allowed to enter the examination room.

It was a fairly simple design with desks and computers all around it with one in the middle where an observer was situated. I sat down and answered all the questions I could. I was baffled to see so many of them having been from the practice tests I took. Of course, they were not exactly the same questions. Often, the questions and answers were reversed but I had a very good idea what they would be. I even had a plethora of the exact same questions I was telling of my parents over the phone the other day.

Surely enough, after all was said and done. I was told I passed, they printed out a certificate with my name on it and congratulated me. I went home and that night I roleplayed first and then went to have a drink. I had way too much to drink and stayed up way too long but I could hardly contain myself.

Suffice to say, after all that, I was positively shattered at the end of November.

PS: If anyone is interested in what sort of questions are there on the test, here's a useful link.

Wednesday, 7 December 2016

The Cake isn't a Lie

I must admit, last month was incredibly intense for me.

I took the first week off because my very awesome friend Piotrek decided to pay me a visit for several days during which we've played games like nobody's business. During that week, we would wake up, have breakfast, play games, have dinner, play games and go to bed somewhere past midnight.

It was glorious!

Of course, it being November, I couldn't resist having a birthday celebration. I've never been one to celebrate my birthday. It generally reminded me of another wasted year. I'm not sure what got into me this year. Whatever it may have been, I tried to make the most of it, invited a few people round, prepared some food, drinks and a game... immense amounts of fun were had!

As you may have gathered, copious amounts of alcohol were also had and it was one of the few opportunities to actually see me drunk on the fiery beverage of my ancestors.

there is no better loot
Of course, no birthday celebration can be complete without presents. While I am far from the materialistic sort, I am immensely happy with all the gifts. When I look at them, I feel you can get a fairly good impression of the sort of person I am.

There are books because I spend a lot of my free time reading. You can clearly tell I adore superheroes looking at all the Batman, Marvel and Flash things. My morbid side is represented by skull candles, a skull glass, a game about zombies and an excellent film! I even got gym gloves so that I finally stop hurting my hands.

I love the cards filled with well wishes. I couldn't help but cry at reading some of them... and I got an updated Transformer figure of a toy I had when I was a child.

It was one of those rare days when I felt accepted. Growing up I've gotten used to being an outsider and the feeling of alienation followed me throughout most of my life. Having a break from it and feeling normal for a change means the world to me.

Wednesday, 13 July 2016

Game Weekend

Piteru decided to come over for a long visit spanning two days... naturally, this was the perfect opportunity to sit down and play as much as physically possible +1

Android: Netrunner
Specially for this occasion, I caved in and bought some packs for Netrunner.

I guess we both highly like the game. Its asymetry is definitely a high selling point.

Of course,
Piteru had to go with his favourite Criminal faction while I picked one of the new Corp identities I got.

Android: Netrunner
There was criminal activity in the form of unsollicited hacking and behind the scene deals made.

I built an aggressive deck with what I had but instead of going for servers left and right,
Piteru just had to play it safe... which costed him the game!

DC Deck-Building Game
Next up was possibly one of our favourite games.

We did get to go to town beforehand so I had a new Expansion set to add to the DC Deck-Building Game.
Piteru didn't like the idea of using the Watchmen Expansion but I convinced him to give it a try when I mention the traitor mechanic.

Unfortunately, he made it way too obvious that he's the secret villain. I still didn't manage to win...

This is where Piteru surprised me.
He bought me a game!
Obviously, there was no way we wouldn't play it.

Carcassonne is a classic among boardgames and highly enjoyable, even with just the base set. We had a small fray over a city at some point but never managed to finish it anyway.

Splendor is a game Piteru bought me last time he came over. Do I sense a pattern here? Maybe...

I must say, he got a lot better at playing it then before. Someone must have been practicing as he stole victory away from me with a single point!

Epic PVP
Piteru wanted to play Epic PVP.
We went with an odd pairing.

Since he picked a High Elf, I went with a Dark Elf and then, instead of picking some goody-do-gooder class, he combined it with a backstabbing Rogue! I just had to pick a honorable Samurai. We went at it back and forth.

Completely different than the last time I remember.
I suppose we both learned how to play it.

Android: Netrunner

When I looked at all the viruses, I got an idea for an Anarchist virus-heavy deck. While I generally play Corporation, I like the Anarchists as a faction.

What can I say? Some people just want to see the world burn... and look at all those virus counters!

I managed to pull off some good synergy between those cards.

DC Deck-Building Game

Piteru wanted a rematch...
of a game he won.
Don't ask...

This time we dealt out our heroes randomnly, Silk Spectre vs Nite Owl... and throughout the game we each suspected the other to be the Secret Supervillain!...
So when we got to the final stage of the game, it was revealed we were both good guys! We also made the game harder for ourselves because I misread one line of the rulebook.

The funniest part of the game was at the end when, although we were on the same side, Piotrek killed my character... this is the sort of friends I have...

One Hit Kill

Lastly, we played One Hit Kill.

It's an easy and quick set collection game with the added benefit of getting to smash your opponent with THE HAMMER OF THE GODS... as
Piteru rightly deserves after the last game...

Monday, 4 July 2016


It's been well over a week since the UK held a referendum on whether or not to leave the EU.

Normally, I avoid talking about current events here because they don't affect me on a personal level. This, however, had a very strong impact on me.

British politics is going crazy at the moment. People are coming out of the woodwork claiming they regret their Leave vote, while it turns out a lot of people didn't go vote Remain because the weather wasn't nice. Farage is insulting EU politicians while The Guardian proclaims him as some kind of Messiah. Seemingly everyone is pushing for Corbyn to resign. Everyone and their mum is running for Prime Minister. Brexit promises are denied, like they never happened. There are protests on the streets of London. There's a petition for another referendum.

There's probably a lot of other nonsense going on too amid all this chaos.

As for me, I'm not sure what to think. I'm more worried about others and what this will mean for the economy of the British Isle than myself personally. When the results came in, a lot of my friends started talking about getting passports of other EU countries and figuring out ways to move out of the UK.

It saddens me to hear that. This whole referendum saddens me in general. When I first voiced my emotions, I was met with reassurances that no one is going to be kicking out EU-nationals. Whether that's the case or not isn't an issue for me. I would ideally prefer to keep my life the way it is and work on improving it rather than be forced to start over, obviously, but my gripes are mainly ideological.

I moved to England because at the time I thought of it as a progressive and cosmopolitan country. Precisely the kind of place I wanted to live in. I was tired of living among people who'd judge others based on arbitrary qualities like where they were born, who they were attracted to or what their interests were.

I've met some great people over here in Brighton who helped me through some harsh times. Although I haven't been subject to any 'racist' attacks, which are on the rise since the referendum, I can't help but wonder. If all the people I care about were to leave and I'm left in a country of nationalistic bigots, what's the point of staying here at all?

Wednesday, 22 June 2016


I've been meaning to write this post for half a year now.
Alas, Life is such that things keep on happening and I couldn't find the time to sit down, think things through and write what's on my mind.

I'm not doing well financially these days.

It's all my fault, really. I used to have a good grasp on my budget, financial flow and my mental state in general before events in my personal life took a turn for the worse. There was a period where all my income for diverted into dealing with some mental health issues. When I felt slightly better off in that regard, I took a gamble and instead of focusing on saving money and putting in additional hours at work, I used all I had to look for a job.

I was desperate, to say the least. I had a hard time dealing with the memories my workplace gave me and really wanted out. I started to look for jobs in areas outside my expertise and local area, and kept taking days off work to attend interviews.

Suffice to say, it didn't pay off.

At the end of last summer I was left with barely enough to get by. I managed to pull through somehow but it was harsh. Now that I've moved, a lot of my surplus income these past few months went into furniture acquisition and rent increase. It's only this week that I'm starting to feel my expenses are going down. Even so, when something comes up like going to the cinema with friends or a trip to a convention, I feel bad for spending money.

All I can think of is how my various accounts add up to a staggering -£2.7k.

It feels like a grim situation. My mind keeps telling me I should just give up on everything that's not essential to base survival (food, water and heat) and deal with this issue... but I've lived like this once. When I first had problems with debt, that was left onto me by some rather unsavoury housemates, I got a job and spent most of my time working. I did naught but work, literally. After my hours were up, I would go home to sleep and go back to work. I barely had time to eat and my days off were a combination of housework and watching TV.

I never wanted that to be my life.

Work + TV is the sort of life I saw my parents have when I was growing up and I vowed not to have a life that's solely focused on working. So here I am, wasting my money frivously on my dreams and trying to enjoy myself as much as I can with whatever time I've got left.

Wednesday, 25 May 2016


I've been called a lot of things during my lifetime. Some more savoury than others. One thing that generally remains a constant is how people call me weird or strange.

weird? more like: bizzare
This is hardly surprising since I've always been a strong proponent of individuality and not comforming to social expectations as a way to fit in. What surprised me lately is how a good friend told me he had the impression I'm trying too hard to be weird.

I was tremendously surprised by this revelation. It's not the first time someone would accuse me of actively trying to be different. As if my whole personal identity depends on the concept of not fitting in. Oftentimes, I take these sort of remarks as an indicative of someone who bends under social pressure to conform to his surroundings. In a way, it's a valid survival tactic and living in a society requires following certain social norms... but your interests, and mine, are not one of these.

I will not engage in an activity I get nothing out of just because someone else does. Likewise, I don't require people give up their activities and pick up mine. When I invite people over to play some games and they'll turn the invitation down, I don't throw up a fuss. So it's unsightly to me when someone invites me to get drunk and my refusal is taken like a personal insult.

I like going out with people who share my interests. I'll attend events and conventions that I find interesting and avoid those that I find dull. I have never gone to a convention only to find that I suddenly hate everything about it and am a totally different person. No, wherever I go, whoever I'm with, I just want to be accepted as being myself without having to put on a false visage only to make myself fit in for a fleeting moment.

What am I supposed to do afterwards? When the veneer fades, I'm just left exhausted. I had no fun pretending to be someone else. Building a friendship based on a lie never works out. The only lasting effect is wasted time.

Most people want to fit in in some way. I want the same. I want to be around people who won't think it's morally wrong to watch anime, like Transformers or be interested in superheroes. I don't want to be laughed at nor told how I should live my life. I just want to have fun.

So when it comes to being around people to whom I either have to lie or stay silent to avoid being ridiculed, I'd rather leave and not turn back...

Tuesday, 12 January 2016

2015 in Books

I would never call myself a voracious reader... but I do like to read and last year was the first time I ever managed to reach the goal I set myself on Goodreads. Which I did mainly thanks to acquiring a Kindle. It became a whole lot easier to read wherever I was.

I also started keeping a sort of reading diary. I got the idea from a group on LibraryThing where people would post what books they finished reading through the year. I thought it was a good enough idea to try it myself... and I present to you the reading journey I went through in 2015.

10th January
Parasyte Volume 1 - Hitoshi Iwaaki

My friend Piotrek was telling me about this new anime, Kiseijuu, that came out somewhere in the last few months of 2014. He showed me a trailer and I thought it looked interesting enough that I would watch it. At the time I had a very long break from anime and I prefer to watch them in one go so I decided to wait until the series finishes... but when I stayed over at his place to play games as a New Year Celebration. He showed me the first episode and I was hooked. I ended up watching all the available episodes over the next few days and then there was a break between seasons. I went to see my parents for Christmas. I've never read manga of a series I was watching so I thought I'll do something different for this year.

I started off reading a chapter a day, in the morning, whilst having my morning tea. Since the manga was published way before the anime, there are some clear differences, mainly in the clear lack of all these cool devices we surround ourselves with in our daily lives. It all starts one day when strange creatures mysteriously appear on Earth and begin to take over human brains. Shinji, a high school student, wakes up to find one such creature in his bedroom, it burrows into his hand but he manages to tie up his arm so it doesn't reach any further. The next day he discovers that his right arm is now a sentient and emotionless being with shapeshifting powers... and that he has to fight for his own survival because all other Parasites, the ones that took over a human brain, eat humans.

It is a gruesome story...

14th January
Dzienny Patrol - Siergiej Łukjanienko

I suppose it would come as no surprise that when I travel, I have a book with me. It's easier to get through the delays and standing in line while lost in a few pages more. When I visited my parents for Christmas, my sister finally had the opportunity to give me my birthday present. Naturally, I started to read it and unlike other books, I finished it within a week. Mostly because I have absolutely nothing to do when I'm at my parents' place.

Unlike the previous novel in the series, Day Watch is composed of three stories that give us a different look at The Others inhabiting Moscow. This time we're reading more about The Dark Others and their ways. Well, I'd rather not say too much... other than that I liked the way the first two stories were concluded in the third one.

I like the way I managed to finish the book in the first hour of the New Year.

17th January
Parasyte Volume 2 - Hitoshi Iwaaki

I continue with my mornings reading manga. A tragedy hits Shinichi's family that nearly results in his death but he is saved thanks to his symbiotic friend. I suppose the biggest changes to the protagonist is his drive for revenge and going away from being a timid student to someone harboring murderous intent deep within his eyes, definitely becoming less human.

23rd January
Parasyte Volume 3 - Hitoshi Iwaaki

The source of Shinichi's abilities is revealed, his mother is avenged and we witness his unemotional nature, which creates a rift between him and his love interest. There are things set in motion behind the scenes of which the reader gets a few glimpses at this point. Parasytes' existence is known to some and another parasyte, Mamada Hideo, enter's Shinichi's school.

29th January
Parasyte Volume 4 - Hitoshi Iwaaki

Yet another massacre hits the school after one clever student tries to unmask Mamada Hideo. It seems only Shinichi is able to save his girlfriend and put a stop to the rampaging monster... but getting through all the police unnoticed is no easy task.

1st February
Collins Easy Learning French Grammar

Here's something I've been reading now and then between studying. I don't have much to say other than if you're learning French, this is a very good grammar book to have. I enjoyed how clear it was, the sections were well organised and there was a lot of references to other sections so it was hard to get lost in all that information. The verb tables at the end are incredibly helpful when learning new verbs. It is rather helpful to have a dictionary whilst reading as it is purely a grammar book.

2nd February
Dexter's Final Cut - Jeff Lindsay

My supervisor from work lent me this book... which was a Christmas present from me. He bought a few of the first books in the series and since we were both watching the TV show at the time, he started lending me them. Unfortunately, he isn't a big reader and although neither am I, I tend to read a bit more than him... so I ended up finishing this book before him.

This book feels a lot different than the previous ones. I didn't like all of them, especially not the one that took on a more supernatural turn, but I kept on reading. There's no overarching enemy presence in this story, unlike in the previous ones. It's actually quite idyllic... even though it takes on a very dark and unpleasant turn at one point... still, I felt that turning point was too sudden.

So what went on in this book? A TV show is being shot in Miami. The police department which Dexter and Debra work for assigned the main stars to them so they can get insight into their daily work lives. Neither of them is happy about it, especially when someone killed a woman who looked a lot like one of the stars... and neither of them can look into the crime... Dexter gets a taste of Hollywood Stardom, he also kills someone at some point.

8th February
Parasyte Volume 5 - Hitoshi Iwaaki

Personal tragedies are following Shinichi wherever he goes. Faced with another death in his personal life, he takes on the offensive in an encounter and brutally disposes of a parasyte. Even so, he still finds his uemotional demeanour discomforting as he can't shed a single tear.

15th February
Parasyte Volume 6 - Hitoshi Iwaaki

Shinichi has another problem on his hands. Someone discovered that he's not entirely human which leads to a bit of a fight between him and Migi, as the latter has a very casual view of killing anything that poses a threat. How they deal with this issue and discovering how other Parasytes have organised themselves is a focal point of this volume.

22nd February
Parasyte Volume 7 - Hitoshi Iwaaki

Seeing Shinichi (and Migi) as a threat, the Parasytes send an assassin to kill him. They both fight an uneven fight but manage to somehow escape with their lives. The witness from the previous volume has problems of his own when the Parasytes decide he outlived his usefulness. Although he escapes the massacre by sheer chance, he can hardly deal with the loss of his family. Seeking revenge, he kidnaps a baby... Tamura Reiko's child. Speaking of which, Tamura Reiko shows just why she is so deadly and not to be underestimated.

28th February
Parasyte Volume 8 - Hitoshi Iwaaki

I must admit that at this point, having been reading a chapter a day, I'm getting a little bit tired of it. I originally thought I'll jump onto another series after this one but I think I'll be taking a break soon.

There's a confrontation between Tamura Reiko and the detective, with dire consequences for both. The group investigating the Parasytes makes their move. Shinichi goes through something that helps him regain the emotions he seemed to have lost since his heart got pierced through. Lastly, a new character with the uncanny ability to sense Parasytes is introduced and he has an odd feeling about the protagonist.

7th March
Parasyte Volume 9 - Hitoshi Iwaaki

and so the inevitable happens. The fight between the human and Parasyte groups is in progress throughout the volume. Ending in a confrontation between Shinichi (with Migi) and Gotou. Not much else to say other than there being an interesting revelation about one of the key figures. Other than that there's a lot of shooting...

14th March
Parasyte Volume 10 - Hitoshi Iwaaki

Last few chapters show Shinichi struggle being left by himself. Up to the point when he decides to confront the inhuman monster that Gotou has become despite losing an arm and being only human. The book ends with the status quo returning to normal, even though Parasytes still exist, they are no longer a threat and become indistinguishable from humans... which in turn, informs the last face-off between Shinichi and a serial killer.

20th March
Let The Right One In - John Ajvide Lindqvist

This was one of a few books I bought as part of a reading list for a philosophy module I had at uni. I have seen the film before a long time ago and loved it. Unsurprisingly enough, I enjoyed reading through it. The vampire condition was interesting and presented with appropriate amounts of grotesque. Although having one character be a pedophile, you suddenly find yourself wondering who's the bigger monster.

16th June
Sezon Burz - Andrzej Sapkowski

I was really proud of finishing all the Witcher Saga books. Even though I got into them way past the point in time when they were on everyone's lips. I was slightly pre-ocupied with Harry Potter at the time, I'd say... but I got through them in the end... and then a prequel came out.

It's not a bad book but I may have started reading it expecting too much. It is written with the same feel and I enjoyed it for the same kind of athmosphere that the series had as a whole. Sadly, other than a few memorable moments, it doesn't add anything of import into the series.

I finished reading it on the train, heading for a job interview.

28th July
Never Let Me Go - Kazuo Ishiguro

Here's another book I had for my philosophy module at uni. It's a good book but very hard to describe without giving away what it's about. Suffice to say that it's a coming of age story, centered on three friends. It starts off very idyllic but slowly moves into glimpses of a hidden dystopia.

It's a sad story.
Our tutor used it as an exploration of the idea of a soul. I found it to illustrate more how humanity is willing to excuse an atrocity as long as it serves a purpose it deems beneficial to itself.

6th August
Part Time Gods - Third Eye Games

I haven't read any game books in ages. I don't even remember when the last time was as I had a few years break from running any games.

I have very little experience with the d20 system but the idea behind the game sounded too good to pass up. The setting chapter details how humanity was given divine sparks and how said sparks waned in power to its current state when gods are both divine and human.

I had this game in pdf for a while but could never find the time to read it. Until, that is, I decided to have a longer tattoo session and borrowed a work-mate's Kindle. I suddenly started to find time to read. I used to always have a book on me but carrying any book with you damages it quite extensively... and larger books are unwieldy... and to think I was so adamantly opposed to getting a Kindle. How foolish of me!

23rd August
Domination and Submission: The BDSM Relationship Guide - Michael Makai

There's a great wellspring of books available in digital format. I was greatly surprised to find one on BDSM and relationships. I've struggled with this aspect of myself for a number of years. It's not a how-to guide but an exploration of the culture. I got a lot out of reading it. It helped me make peace with myself and feel less like there's something wrong with me or that I shouldn't even try exploring this part of me.

2nd September
What Color is Your Parachute? - Richard N. Bolles

This book has been suggested to me by an old friend. I've been putting off reading it for a year or two but since I decided to put more effort into job hunting in 2015, I dived right into it.

It's clear that this book has been written for the US market but it's hardly useless outside of the states. As a job-seeker, reading about various experiences and how CV reactions vary between recruiters was inspirational. The book doesn't muddle your eyes claiming the one true way to CV building and presenting yourself. No, what I got from reading it is that job-hunting is awfully hard. More importantly, I started to understand how recruiters think, what's the point of the common job interview questions and what I should be asking of them. It's not just about finding a job but finding a job that works for you.

6th September
Kłamca - Jakub Ćwiek

So... when I heard the premise of the book and saw that the bookstore was selling the series in a neat bundle, I simply bought it. All in all, the premise is very interesting. God's angels are incapable of lying so in order to engage in any sort of subterfuge, they employ Loki, the Norse God of Lies... whom they freed after killing the Æsir.

Sadly, the book falls short. It feels more like a collection of short stories than a novel. They're all connected by having the same characters appear here and there but there's no over-arching plot nor any world-building going on other than the rudimentary explanation of what's going on in any given chapter. It certainly did not make me look forward to the next book in the series.

27th September
The Hound of the Baskervilles - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Project Gutenberg has a ton of classics freely available. Sure enough, I couldn't say no to further delving into the world of Sherlockian mystery.

I must admit I'm not overly fond of Sherlock Holmes novels. I prefer the short stories by far but having said that, I still enjoyed this book more than I thought I would. I think it's because it doesn't divide itself into two narratives like his previous ones. There's an epilogue at the end with some further information that Holmes has gathered but it's not presented as a narrative in and of itself.

Even so, I'm looking forward to getting back to the short stories.

11th October
Storm Front - Jim Butcher

Another one of those books that I've heard a lot about but never sat down to actually read it. It's been recommended to me by a Dane! Not the first time I heard about it. The Dresden Files have been doing rounds within gaming circles for a while, yet I've avoided it in a way. Probably because The Cthulhu Mythos is also extremely popular... of which I'm not a hug fan of.

Harry Dresden is a professional wizard in Chicago. His first case is to find a missing husband but the plot thickens quickly and gets more dangerous as the book goes on. Although I feel I'm getting tired of first-person narratives, I enjoyed this book tremendously. It's urban fantasy where wizards are extremely powerful provided they prepare themselves properly and Dresden proves to be an interesting character, living on the fringes of both mundane and supernatural societies.

I suddenly understand why it gathered such a huge following.

24th October
The Return of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

This is what I like to read.
A collection of short and to the point stories.
Sherlock is not dead, what a suprise!

It's a fun read, perfect for an afternoon with some tea.
One story at a time.

I was trying to think which story I liked best but as it turns out, I can't really pick any one in particular.

29th October
Fool Moon - Jim Butcher

Next up is the second book in the Dresden Files. As the previous presented Harry with a sorcerous adversary, this time he's up against what appears to be a werewolf. You'd think it's easy enough but no, let the title not fool you, it's not as easy as it sounds.

Not only does Harry have to figure out who the werewolf is but also what kind of werewolf he's dealing with before more people die. Fortunately, not all things are going badly for Harry as he's meeting new allies and love blossoms in unsuspecting places.

30th October
The Valley of Fear - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

I did mention that I don't like it when Watson's narrative changes into a novel depicting past events that explain the crime in the previous half of the book. When I was reading a Study in Scarlet, I felt somewhat confused but here it was far more enjoyable. I'm not sure if it's my lack of surprise or if it was actually an interesting story with a dramatic reveal that got me but The Valley of Fear is certainly worth a read.

I might even wager I liked the second part more than the first.

8th November
Grave Peril - Jim Butcher

We had sorcerers and werewolves, what next? Ghosts? Vampires? Why not both?!

A new character is introduced in the form of Michael Carpenter, wielder of a holy sword. Together with Harry, they're attempting to defeat a ghost sucking life out of babies! That's not the worst as all hell is about to break when Harry is pulled into the political machinations of the Vampire Red Court.

I might say that I've been well sucked into this series.
There's a lot going on here...

I'm impressed with the worldbuilding. Harry made a passing comment in previous books that he had a faerie godmother. This is elaborated upon here and with each book, there's more to the world and the characters inhabiting it.

2nd December
Summer Knight - Jim Butcher

Seems like I can't get enough of this series. Here the focus is on a political struggle between faeries into which Harry is inadvertedly pulled into through political machinations between the faeries and wizards following the declaration of war made by vampires in the previous book.

Just writing that out I'm in awe at the skill with which Butcher creates and presents his world. Of course, there's a murder that needs to be solved and as it's revealed later on, Harry has little choice but to solve it as the consequences are dire both to him and the world at large.

23rd December
The Dresden Files Roleplaying Game - Volume 1: Your Story - Evil Hat Productions

I don't remember when I started reading this book. It was a few years ago, when I didn't know anything about The Dresden Files. It was a pdf gifted to me by a friend who has since passed away. I drifted away in the middle of reading it after hearing the news. Every now and again I felt bad for never finishing it until I got a Kindle and loaded it up.

I had some initial problems as my Kindle couldn't handle the file after a few chapters and I had to manouver away from any picture heavy pages. In the end, I had to finish reading it on my PC.

I'm still not certain I understand the Fate system well enough to either run or play the game but I'm glad I got to go through it all.

Thank you Graham, may you rest in peace.

26th December
Death Masks - Jim Butcher

Still in the world of the Dresden Files.
I guess it's time to bring out fallen angels, holy warriors and the Shroud of Turin.
Yeah... we're getting biblical here. Not only that, some Red Court vampire noble came down to Chicago just to challenge Harry to a duel so the two sides, vampires and wizards, can call a truce. Not only that, but Harry's girlfriend who has been tainted by the Red Court is back. Sadly, they still can't be together because if she ever lost control in the throes of passion, she'd surely kill Harry without thinking about it.

See, this is what I like about these books. There's never just one thing going on... and as the books progress, Harry's problems become deadlier... and they hit him all at once.

The universe (or, the author) has no mercy.