The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter (by Theodora Goss) – ★★★★

The Strange Case of the Alchemist's Daughter book cover

Interesting premise and framing device support a pretty fun and intriguing story. The daughters/creations of classic literary characters (scientists and “monsters”) come together, become unlikely friends, and adventure and mystery solving ensue.

Not sure how much of the characters and their personalities come directly from their sources (I’m not super familiar with the source material), but they were all pretty interesting and meshed together well as a group. The way the characters interrupted the narrator and had side conversations was something I haven’t seen before and work really well for added color especially in audiobook format.

After checking reviews, I probably won’t keep going on with the series, but I enjoyed “Alchemist’s Daughter” a good bit and recommend it to anyone who finds the basic plot summary intriguing.

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Review: Flight of the Navigator

Flight of the Navigator

Watching Flight of the Navigator with the kids, and in the first 10 minutes we see David and his brother ride unbuckled and wrestling in the back of a station wagon, find out he keeps a giant box of fireworks next to his bed, and then that his parents expect his 8 year old brother to walk home in the dark in the woods and across the train tracks.

The 80s man.

First time I’ve seen this since the 80s myself. All I could remember was thinking it was scary, which watching again with my own 7 year old makes me realize I must have been quite the weenie. She really enjoyed the early mystery and then the tiny cute alien, and unlike her dad didn’t find it one bit scary. It was fun watching it with her and I enjoyed the first 2/3rds, but when the alien ship turns into Pee Wee Herman it lost me a bit for a while before picking up again towards the end.

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Golden Axe – ★★½

Golden Axe for Genesis

I played so much of this (and Sunset Riders) at the arcade at Schlitterbahn and it was so fun with other people while wet and smelling like chlorine and 6th grade. Crazy all those times playing it and I probably never made it more than like 10 minutes/2 quarters in.

Played through this in one quick sitting via Switch Online and turns out playing it at home alone with save states doesn’t quite recreate that experience.

I don’t know if it’s the Genesis version or what but I never figured out exactly what the hit boxes of characters was and/or there’s just hardly any feedback from the game when you’re connecting and the bad guys in Arcade mode are just damage sponges. Either way, doesn’t hold up very well especially compared to the recent Game Boy games I caught up with but maybe I’ll rope my kids into trying it with me sometime and have more fun that way.

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Alice in Wonderland – ★★★

Alice in Wonderland box art

Overall, to me at least, the illustration and animation in Alice in Wonderland just isn’t as good as some of the older Disney classics and the story is too madcap (pun intended) and silly for me personally.

I don’t know, but this has always been the Disney movie I have least affection and connection with. I’m not 100% sure when/if I’ve really ever sat and watched the whole thing before this rewatch, at least not in the last 30 years. I’m not sure my kids have ever really watched it or been interested in it either.

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Kirby and the Forgotten Land – ★★★★

Kirby and the Forgotten Land for Nintendo Switch

Bought this soon after it was released in 2022 but finally got around to playing it now after enjoying Kirby’s Dream Land on Nintendo Switch Online. Beat the main story and most all of the Treasure Road stages in about 15 hours and enjoyed pretty much every moment of it. With those and Kirby: Star Allies, I’ve now played my first three Kirby games in last couple years and the 3D Forgotten Land is easily my fave.

The graphics are absolutely gorgeous. Everything is vibrant and colorful with an incredible amount of detail. It’s impressive what Nintendo can do on Switch hardware with the right art style, even with packed and relatively open levels.

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Last Argument of Kings (The First Law, #3) – ★★★

Joe Abercrombie's Last Argument of Kings

Definitely my least favorite in The First Law trilogy. I think in general I like Joe Abercrombie’s writing and world building but I don’t think I liked a single decision he made with the character direction in this conclusion to the trilogy. I don’t need everything to be wrapped up with a bow, but every single character is less likable by the end of this story and for the last book in a trilogy too many threads end without much of a conclusion.

I think Ninefingers’ arc was probably the least satisfying and the measly three female characters in either get short shrift or actively punished for just trying to exist.

Spoiler warning
Throughout the series, Sand dan Glokta is developed as pretty much evil incarnate, hideous on the inside and out, and you have Ardee West end up with him and act like she’s okay with it? And I’m not 100% confident Abercrombie is aware or sensitive enough to the fact that he’s condemning Queen Terez to a lifetime of being raped nightly by her husband Jezal dan Luthar, the rare character from this book I was actually growing to like.

Steven Pacey, who reads the book on Audible, is absolutely fantastic and his narration throughout the series goes a long way in really making the entire trilogy as engrossing as it was. Overall a disappointing enough end to the trilogy that I don’t plan to check out any of Abercrombie’s follow up books set in world of the First Law.

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The Super Mario Bros. Movie – ★★★½

Super Mario Bros. Movie

Fantastic looking and tons of fun references. Adequate storyline that anyone whose ever played a Mario game could predict, but good enough for a fun afternoon at the theater with the kids.

Although it is not a nonstop laugh fest, it got several big laughs from my kids, despite the fact that they are more into Minecraft/The Sims than they are into Mario. It is definitely a kids’ movie with references for us “olds,” but it was made lovingly and shows a real understanding and appreciation of the Mario characters and worlds.

Anya Taylor-Joy’s Peach and especially Jack Black’s Bowser were definitely the highlights, but all of the performances were good. Yes, including Chris Pratt.

Special shoutout to the nihilistic Lumalee the Luma who stole the show in their brief appearances.

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Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins – ★★★★

Super Mario Land 2 screenshot and game box

Super Mario Land 2 was next up in my first time exploration of the Game Boy.

I have played and bounced off the first Super Mario Land before (including on my TI85 calculator in high school) so was surprised how fun and unique 6 Golden Coins was. The level design and enemy design variety is fun and there are so many weird ones that never show up in other Mario games. Maybe we can get a Super Mario Movie post credits scene featuring Skeleton Bee. Lol.

Not super hard (especially thanks to cheesing with save states) and the actual gameplay wasn’t too varied, but still a blast to quickly (3 hours?) play through to see everything including the delightfully ugly tiny pixel Wario.

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