Crystal's Pony Tale (Genesis)
SkirmishFrogs had a thing on September 22nd where everyone was supposed to review this game. It's part of Sega's line of games for younger children, specifically girls. So, as a gamer girl who's hard on insultingly easy games that hide behind the "it's for children!" excuse and even harder on games that water themselves down because they think girls can't handle "real" games (see Super Princess Peach), what do I think of it?
The titular Crystal is a pony whose friends have been kidnapped by a witch and imprisoned in parts of the world. You free them by searching three zones for jewels, then placing the jewels in their corresponding niches to free the trapped ponies. The locations of the jewels and ponies are randomized each game, and how far apart the jewels are from their ponies varies on difficulty setting. Basically, it's a cross between ToeJam and Earl and Ecco the Dolphin, with My Little Pony wallpaper. It's kind of janky, it's impossible to actually lose the game (in the vein of Sonic the Hedgehog, you just drop a couple of collectibles when you get hit, and while you need these collectibles to open doors and chests, they respawn when you move between scenes), and you can clear all three difficulty settings in less than two hours, but at least the exploration means there's something resembling an actual game here.
The Mallet of Loving Correction (John Scalzi, Kindle eBook)
This is the sequel to Your Hate Mail Will Be Graded, which I have to say had a better title. This collection of entries from Scalzi's blog brings us an essay on the idea of "fake geek girls" published back in 2012 long before the Gamergate debacle, the difference between being snarky and just being a dick, a collection of Twitter posts he made during a Lord of the Rings marathon, his opinions on people who buy a copy of one of his books then either get another copy used or pirate an electronic version for convenience (spoiler: he doesn't care, although I don't think his publisher(s) would agree), an essay about a toothache that hit a bit close to home as I was dealing with that resorbed tooth at the time... and political essays.
And oh man, there so many political essays. It's funny I bring this up because he also had an essay about the idea that fiction writers are only for entertainment and should keep their political views out of sight. And yes, I agree with Scalzi that he's allowed to have and share his political opinions, and isn't just a monkey who only exists to entertain us. But I'm also allowed to get annoyed when they're taking up space in a book I paid money for, especially with the exhausting political climate of this year.
Pip Bartlett's Guide to Magical Creatures (Jackson Pearce and Maggie Stiefvater, Kindle eBook)
This book had the pulse of a box of soggy saltines. Pip Bartlett is a girl who can talk to magic creatures, and it's never explained why she can do this. Is it an ancient, supressed gene in her family that manifested for the first time in generations? Did a witch doctor cast a spell on her? Was she bit by a radioactive Babel Fish? Or is the classic "she's just a special snowflake so shut up and eat your bullshit"?
Pip's aunt is a veterinarian for magic creatures who's constantly being harassed by Stock Child Book Villain 27-A: Self-Righteous Bureaucrat With Head Up Ass. When the city is overrun with Soot Sprites that catch fire when agitated, SRBWHUA wants them exterminated, so Pip uses her power to find out they're fleeing from a black dog. Pip then uses her power to find out the black dog is a puppy that was separated from its pack. Pip and her aunt take the dog to its pack. And that's the end of the book. Hoo-fucking-ray.