Rinn’s Top Books of 2017

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It’s that time of the year when every book blogger shares their top reads, and I’m not going to disappoint! As usual, I can NEVER settle on just ten; this covers books I read in 2017, not just those published this year.

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Artemis by Andy Weir was maybe one of my most anticipated books of the year, and I was kindly sent a copy by the publisher. If you grab the UK hardback, make sure to look under the dust jacket! I wasn’t sure what I’d think of The Nowhere Girls by Amy Reed, but I am so glad I gave it a chance. It’s a really fantastic and meaningful story that is sadly very relevant in today’s culture. Has anyone been able to ignore The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood this year?? The book is shocking and the recent television series updates it for the modern world.

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American Gods by Neil Gaiman is another book that got the TV treatment this year, although I have to confess I haven’t actually finished watching it. The book was truly weird (so truly Gaiman) and so unique. Another book I received from the publisher was An Almond for a Parrot by Wray Delaney, a historical fiction that had me reading late into the night. Written by a local author, Planetfall by Emma Newman is a really interesting sci-fi that explores areas you might not expect in the genre.

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Kings of the Wyld by Nicholas Eames was one of my book group’s fantasy picks and I LOVED it. It’s a funny book that made me think of epic gaming sessions. However I have to say, if you only read one of these books, you should definitely read The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. It’s heart-breaking and beautiful. Or if you’re in the mood for non-fiction, then try Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay. I really need to read more of her books now, and am currently waiting for more of her stuff from the library.

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 Red Sister by Mark Lawrence is definitely an absolute favourite of the year, and I managed to convince both Claire and another friend to give it a shot! I was late coming to The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt, but it was so good. So slow and a HUGE book but I got through it pretty quickly because I just couldn’t stop. And finally… A Closed and Common Orbit by Becky Chambers, the sequel to one of my absolute favourite books of 2016. It felt like quite a different story to the first but I still loved it.

What are your top books of 2017? Did you read any of these?

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Dead Space | Why Am I Even Here?

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If you know me, you probably know I am not a fan of horror.

So naturally, my first solo Twitch stream choice was a horror game I’ve had for a long time, but never played: Dead Space. The plot is pretty familiar if you’re a fan of the Alien franchise: trapped on a spaceship, being hunted down by things that travel through the vents – although in this case, it’s the mutated crew of the ship, not an alien species, which somehow makes it a lot worse.

Horror games are always a fun choice to stream, because both the streamer and the viewer can feel pretty involved. And honestly, I’m not sure I’d be playing this game without my followers chatting alongside and giving me the moral support I need to even move just one step!

So, here we are, my first two live streams of Dead Space. Twitch keeps recordings for up to 14 days, so I’m archiving my videos on Youtube as well. If you’d like to follow me on Twitch, or watch the videos on there instead, my profile can be found here.

Please note these videos contain plenty of shrieking and swearing – it’s a scary game! 😉 You may want to skip the first minute or two, as it’s just an interval screen whilst I was getting ready for the stream.

Have you ever played Dead Space? Are you a horror game wimp just like me?

Starbound | Space Adventures

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Last year, I found myself addicted to Stardew Valley, the Harvest Moon-esque farm life simulator released by Chucklefish Games. I farmed, raised animals, filled up the museum, made friends, got married (Elliott, in case you’re wondering…) and explored to the deepest, darkest parts of the mines.

Whilst I loved the game, it didn’t quite feel infinite. There were town boundaries, a limited number of mine levels, and once I’d completed the Community Centre I didn’t feel like there was much of a goal anymore.

So imagine my delight when I discovered that the developer had released not only another game, but a science fiction game. love sci-fi. For several years on my previous blog I ran an event dedicated to the genre in all its forms every November (and it’s quite honestly something I’m hoping to continue over here). And just to top it all off, this game was an open world sandbox, which is a description that will ALWAYS encourage me to give a game a shot. The freedom of roaming a huge world on my own terms, and being able to create stuff? Count me in.

Starbound opens with the player fleeing their home on a damaged ship, and requires you to use the resources of the nearest planet to get things up and running again. Whilst there are plenty of side-quests and a main story, the possibilities are pretty much endless. You can choose to be an explorer and lay your claim to planets, found colonies and see sprawling cities pop up, or even just kill everything in sight if that works for you…

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My super cosy home library

I’ve played around 40 hours of the game so far, maybe 5 or so of those with a friend (yes, it has online co-op!), and I’m already proud of my progress. I have a castle with a LIBRARY, a cellar that has my own little laboratory, and around 25 colonists in various types of houses.

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My spaceship crew, in our crew uniform

You can also recruit crew members for your spaceship and BUILD YOUR OWN SPACESTATION (I haven’t gotten that far, sadly). All of the planets and galaxies are randomly generated, and have different types of atmosphere, climate, threats etc. For example, there is a toxic jungle planet nearby to me at the moment, but I don’t think I’m quite ready to face that one just yet. And not only can you fly above the planet, but you can dig, dig, dig right down to the core – but be prepared to face whatever might be waiting for you down there!

Whilst exploring on my own, I managed to find a little village of llamas, who were apparently all Scottish (??!), a tiny frog town and some mushroom houses that were occupied by mushroom people… all on one planet. Whilst playing with my friend, we found a ‘Glitch’ town (medieval themed, but occupied by robots), and may have accidentally stolen a few items to furnish our own homes, which led to a long (and fatal) showdown with the guards.

This is the first in what I hope will be a fairly long series of posts, sharing my Starbound adventures.

Have you played Starbound? What sorts of things did you find whilst exploring?

Artemis by Andy Weir | 5 stars

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5 out of 5 stars | Goodreads

I received a free finished copy of this book from the publisher, in exchange for an honest review.

So, I was one of those people who didn’t actually particularly enjoy The Martian. Whether it was because I read it on Kindle (which honestly tends to hinder my enjoyment of books, I just hate it), or because it just somehow didn’t work for me I’m not sure, but one thing is for sure: after reading Artemis, I need to re-read The Martian, because Andy Weir is a FANTASTIC author.

First of all, this book is set on the Moon, and I honestly can’t think of many (if any?) books I’ve read that have that setting, despite all of the science fiction I’ve read. Most authors seem to go further out, Mars or even other solar systems and galaxies. In Weir’s world, humans have settled on the Moon, but life there is tough unless you’re super rich. It’s also become a holiday destination for the wealthy.

The book centres around Jazz, who works as a courier, but also perhaps deals with some slightly less legit activities on the side… Jazz smuggles contraband from Earth for various clients, which of course leads her into all sorts of trouble. She is offered a huge sum of money, more than she has ever dreamed of, to pull off a crime, and it’s there that the action really begins. There were plenty of ‘on the edge of your seat’ type moments, and all the mentions of various tech and space gadgetry completely satisfied my inner (not so secret) space geek.

Jazz as a character was so fun, and it was great to have a woman of colour as the main protagonist in a science fiction novel (more please). Whilst she does not practice Islam, we see elements of the religion through her father. I loved that Jazz was just so confident in herself and didn’t worry about others judging her, and she was a great, witty narrator. Even though she was living in relative poverty, at least in comparison to many of the Moon’s citizens, it really felt like she was making the most of what she had, and was so determined to reach her goal.

I also want to mention how truly GORGEOUS the hardcover is under the dust jacket. I took it off to see if there was anything interesting on the hardback itself, not really expecting anything, and it’s just so pretty (but also so simple), that I’m almost tempted to keep the dust jacket off.

Thank you so much to Ebury for sending me a free copy of the finished book. This is definitely recommended for all of you science fiction fans out there – whether you enjoyed The Martian or not! 😉

My First Gaming Video… | Paladins

When Claire and I had the idea to start up this blog, one thing I considered was filming some of my gaming, with narration, as some of my favourite Youtubers do (Markiplier and Jacksepticeye). Whilst I’m not expecting my videos to be ANYTHING like theirs (they are some of the funniest guys ever), I decided to bite the bullet and just test it out. Maybe this is something that I’ll do more often, maybe not, we’ll see… But here’s my first ever gaming video!

If the embed doesn’t work, you can also view it on Twitch here.

I chose the game Paladins, which is a free-to-play FPS (First Person Shooter) available on Steam. It’s similar to Overwatch or Team Fortress 2, in that you group up with other players to play capture-the-flag type scenarios. The game sound is a little quiet in this video, but that’s something I’ll be sure to check before the next (in my first attempt, I could barely be heard).

I’ve also been experimenting with Twitch today, and that’s something I’m hoping to do a bit more often too – especially now I’ve roped a friend in to join me for some regular gaming 😉 We streamed earlier but made the rookie error of not choosing to save broadcasts…

Have you played Paladins? Do you share your gameplay videos, and if so, do you have any advice for me?

Welcome to Paper & Pixels!

Welcome to Paper & Pixels!

This new blog is a joint venture between Rinn, formerly of Rinn Reads, and Claire, formerly of Bitches with Books. Whilst we have both been book blogging for several years, we started to feel a little disillusioned with it all, and felt completely unmotivated. As the thought of leaving the blogosphere completely was a bit too much (what else would we do with our spare time?!), and we’ve been great blogger friends for a while now, joining forces to create something new and fresh seemed like a good idea.

Instead of just blogging about books, we want to talk about everything. Books, video games, television, film, board games, travel, culture, pop culture – anything goes. So here’s a more detailed introduction to what you might expect from both of us on this blog…

Rinn: Of course I’ll still be sharing my thoughts on books (sci-fi and fantasy are my absolute FAVOURITES, along with travel and history non-fiction), but my main interest in this new venture is delving into video game discussion. I’ve been gaming my whole life (memories of my sister and I taking turns to complete levels of the original Tomb Raider, but our dad had to fight the T-rex because it was just too scary! 😉 ). I game on PC, am obsessed with Steam achievements and own a much larger video game collection than I’ll probably ever have time for. Mass Effect and Dragon Age are life, and I’ve been playing Lord of the Rings Online on and off for about six or seven years.

Other than video games, I watch way too many films and TV shows, so of course I’ll also be discussing those (any excuse for a Netflix binge), and whatever else comes to mind. I’m just super excited to have even more freedom with this new blog, and just take things as they come – no strict schedules or X number of posts per week, but whatever and whenever we feel like it.

Oh, and I will probably repost some of my best content from my old blog, Rinn Reads (still online, but no longer updated), because I spent SO MUCH of my life (okay maybe hyperbole but still a lot of time) writing that stuff.

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Claire: Well hello, hello! I’m originally from The Bahamas but I’ve been in the UK for close to 3 years now, so I guess you could call this my new Home.

I’m a big book geek and devour any fantasy or grimdark that I can get my hands on, especially if it has a female lead. Actually, I pretty much only read books with female leads these days. I plan to share a lot about books with fantasy and grimdark taking center stage, naturally, but I’ll also post my thoughts on other genres such as nonfiction, feminist lit, literary fiction and historical fiction.

I’m not only a book geek though! I’ll post on digital console games (mostly handheld consoles like the 3DS and hopefully Switch games when I get my hands on it), miniature tabletop games, my partner and I are very into Descent, card games (anyone here a fan of the Fluxx series?), as well as films and occasionally TV. I also travel a heck ton for work and fun so there will be trip and event reviews and photos involved! Basically, if it’s geeky, I’ll post it.

I might occasionally repost some Bitches With Books stuff (I mean, I did write a lot of reviews) but it won’t be tons I promise. Stay sassy guys!

Here’s to our new adventure! Thank you to all followers, whether you’ve come over from our previous blogs or are just reading our words for the first time 🙂

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