11 posts tagged review
Honestly, I am so over vampires and I know a lot of you are too- so when I was camping out in the YA Fantasy Romance section of Barnes and Noble I was skeptical about a lot of the stuff I was looking at. However, something about this book called to me. Firstly, it’s Holly Black and I’m uncertain I can dislike anything Holly Black writes. Secondly, the premises was intriguing and while we live in a post Twilight world finding a Vampire Book that doesn’t sound like a complete rip off is very hard. However, The Coldest Girl in Coldtown surprised me yet. It was intriguing, clever, and contained a female character I didn’t want to stab in the throat ninety-nine percent of the time.
The story is about Thana. She’s got that typical YA book heroine thing to her. She’s tragic, doe eyed, and tough all at the same time which works for her without coming of as irritating and Mary Sue (most of the time.) Tana wakes up at a party with everyone around her dead/dying, her dopey ex boyfriend Aidan on the edge of turning into a vamp, and another vamp chained down. Thana has to race against the clock to get Aidan to a Coldtown (it’s pretty much a ghetto for vamps and weird humans who’ve gotten stuck there.) She packs up Aidan and Gavriel the sexy, mysterious, and somewhat kind vampire and hits the road with them. On their way there they meet some friends and foes and all in all it’s a fun journey.
The love story is definitely between Gavriel and Thana and contains one of the best vamp kiss scenes I’ve seen in a YA book (tongue biting and blood licking, it’s hot, gave me a bit of an early Sookie Stackhouse vibe.) What makes Gavriel and Thana so refreshing is that they both have secrets that keep their feelings hidden from everyone except themselves. The attraction is there immediately and I was very impressed with how compatible they were as characters without having been shoved down everyones throat.
Despite how great the story was one thing didn’t sit well with me and that was the fact the POV’s changed from time to time but there wasn’t any particular pattern to and when it changed from Thana to another character the first time it felt very jarring and slightly unnecessary. A plot device could have been used such as a text or a phone call. The only switches I did enjoy were the ones to Gavriel’s past with his maker that reminded me of Angel and Spike in a wonderful way.
Despite the point of view switching I did whole heartily find this book entertaining and was actually sad to find out it was a one shot and not part of a series, although I will say the ending was open ended enough that a series wouldn’t feel like something out of left field and I hope this might go on because I’m not quite ready to fully ready to say goodbye to Coldtown just yet.
So I’ve been meaning to write about this game for a while since it has been some time since I beat it. I’d like to get some bad flak out of the way for this game – it’s nice to see an Assassin’s Creed game on a handheld that is just as pretty as its home console counterpart; however, it seems like the character development skimps out a bit. I think that was a case for both installments of “Assassin’s Creed 3.”
It was exciting and fresh to see a female Assassin take the lead role in the franchise even if it was just for a portable on Vita. New Orleans was fun and I think the different personas added a nice twist to the combat system. At times it was annoying to have different levels of notoriety across different ‘costumes’, but it makes sense. There were a few things that just didn’t make sense to me that made this game really hard to play through at times: who is Aveline? I understand she is the daughter of a slaveholder who grants her freedom and she is also the adopted daughter of her father’s wife. How did she come to be an Assassin? Why did she share her activities so freely with her step-mother? Why is Aveline’s birthmother intent on keeping her distance? Just what is that damn disc everyone is so afraid of? I feel like these are important, pivotal questions which remained unanswered to the very end.
The gameplay is relatively intuitive – it plays a lot like its predecessors, although there are a few quirky things here and there ranging from stroking the back of the Vita to row a boat, to rubbing the backside
a certain way to pick-pocket someone. I’m sorry, but I don’t want to rub my handheld to steal some change! Hold triangle to steal, please! These extra ‘controls’ felt really gimmicky, like the mandatory sixaxis controls in Heavenly Sword (anyone remember that game!?) in which everything involved tilting the controller because.. sixaxis. I also couldn’t stand decoding maps or letters. I’m told to hold my vita to the light as if I am peeking at a real piece of paper, yet the damn camera controls are inverted for some reason and it’s actually the front camera that needs to be held to the light. Decoding maps and other riddles took forever because of this glitch that is NEVER FIXED. I suppose after the game breaking save glitch fix Ubisoft gave up on this game.
Onto other details: there is a trading system side mission(or quest.. or mini game?) where you could make a butt-load of money using Aveline’s company to buy and sell crops, linen, and supplies. It seems
to be the counterpart to the Homestead trading in Assassin’s Creed 3; however, the controls are so horrendous it often took me ten minutes or so to figure out how to select a ship and where to send it. Once I figured out how to do it, the controls are so NOT intuitive that I would forget almost immediately how to send out another ship. Let’s just say I didn’t bother playing this part of the game very much.
Connor: Everyone was looking forward to meeting and running through New Orleans with Aveline. Well, he’s really just eye candy – you can’t do anything with him and all he does is follow you around somewhat incompetently. I think he is in this short game for just a few minutes depending upon how quickly you clear the missions.
I think this game is worth it if you can find it in the bargain bin. It’s been almost a year since its release so that may be possible at this point in time. I got mine with the Assassin White Playstation Vita bundle which I think was a very good bargain. I’m glad I did not pay full price for this title. Unfortunately, I think I’ll be waiting for the bargain bin for Assassin’s Creed IV since I’m still not convinced that it’s worth being a day one purchase.
Asssassin’s Creed III does not disappoint and lives up to the hype – Ubisoft proudly announced weeks ago that this was their most pre-ordered game yet. The third title focuses around Connor, an American(yeah, I said it.) of Mohawk Indian and British descent. He is straight out of a Catharine Sedgewick novel, which makes this game all the more charming for early American history and literature buffs. I’ll be writing this from an American perspective in the same fashion I imagine Italians marveled at Ezio slaying the Medici and Borgia families in Assassin’s Creed II. Gamers get to mingle with a cast of historical characters and witness the signing of the Declaration of Independence. I giggled with glee when I dumped boxes of tea into Boston’s harbor and as a New Yorker, I shook my head in disbelief at how rural New York is in this installment of the series. The Desmond plot finally comes to a conclusion and I hope any forthcoming Assassin’s Creed titles keep him gone for good(I was never a fan of the contemporary levels – keep me in the Animus, please!)
The graphics in this game have quite a boost over the previous titles – the water is beautiful, the landscape is beautiful(although rendering could use an improvement, buildings popping up out of thin air isn’t pretty!), and I loved the new features – such as climbing trees, hunting animals, listening to conversations while remaining within a specified range, and the changing seasons. The snow flurries, pouring rain, and scorching sun really helped add to the experience. There are also new side quests that are much less redundant feeling that in earlier games. There are a variety of naval missions that are enjoyable, peg leg trinket missions(similar to gathering feathers for Maria in ACII), convoy missions, and eagle feather collecting. Welcomed back are fort missions in which you can liberate regions of cities from the Templar order – although with a twist. Like the convoy missions, you must find the forts before the mission becomes available. Other missions, such as helping people around town, become available as you walk around. Fast travel is a bad idea to use frequently in this game because you will miss out – in fact, you need to discover the fast travel tunnels in this game; they cannot be purchased. My major qualm about the technicality of this game is maintaining the homestead – I’m not enjoying the whole ‘creation’ of products that then need to be sold and transported via convoy. It reminded me of Atelier Rorona and I was not pleased. I much rather renovate buildings and collect income instead of hunting around for homestead missions to acquire people to live near my property, then buy materials from these rescued people, THEN ship these things on convoys that may not even make it to the destination. It’s like a weird cross between Atelier and Civilization. I could have lived without it.
On a side note, this game is really buggy and needs a patch. Assassin’s Creed III and Liberation has issues with freezing and other strange glitches that require restarting the game. I’m really surprised Ubisoft has not addressed this and issued a patch.
Ultimately, you should buy this game.
Continue reading for some character analysis - but be warned, there are SPOILERS.
Max Payne 3 and I go way back. I was hoping for a third game in this series as soon as I watched the ending credits of Max Payne 2. When I heard that a third installment was announced, I was wild with joy and anticipation… but that wore out quickly. The severance of Sam Lake and Remedy from the production of the game combined with Rockstar taking over every aspect of the new game had me worried. Then the first images began to come through, revealing daylight, musky equator weather, and a fat, old, and bald Max. People were quite outraged like I was, and then Rockstar decided to mention the inclusion of a Max Payne who wasn’t bald. The more I read about the setting and the plot, the more I decided this simply wasn’t a Max Payne game I wanted any part of. I’ve never hated any Rockstar game I’ve played but that would soon change. What I began to notice was that those who were liking the revealed content for MP3 never played the first two games – it became clear to me that they were in love with the game play, the setting, and maybe even the rugged, weathered man on the screen. That is okay, it really is – if this game were named anything else I’d probably think it was a decent(but short) game. Reviews for the game were positive and my friends were telling me I was being stubborn for disliking a game I haven’t played. I decided to give the game a try and got it from my local GameStop. I beat the game in two days and here was what it was like:
Publisher: Picador USA
Paperback publisher date: September 4th, 2012
The Marriage Plot is Jeffrey Eugenides’s first delve into YA Fiction and I hope that it be his last. This novel has its high points, but I am uncertain if the more glorious moments make up for the lackluster Hanna family and disinterested narrator. The Marriage Plot follows a group of young adults trying to find their way after college graduation in the 80s. Their stories feel an awful lot like the experiences of current graduates who are entering a shrinking workforce. The worry of unemployment and lack of achievement plague the three main characters to the point where one of them decides to backpack through Europe and India – hoping to ‘beat’ the recession. I really enjoyed the tour of Europe and India – it was a romantic idea that brings to mind one of my favorite books: Under the Net by Iris Murdoch. I could see a little bit of Jake Donaghue in Mitchell’s personality. The chapters following Mitchell are enjoyable and funny; however, the sections on Madeleine Hanna are not. The novel begins with a focus on the young Hanna and her obsession with A Lover’s Vow. She has just broken up with her manic depressive bohemian type boyfriend, Leonard, who is far too intelligent to be with a girl like Madeleine anyway. This is followed by a run-down of her history - cheating boyfriends, great grades, shallow friends, and her attempts to fit in with the loners and philosophers on campus when it is obvious she should be in a sorority filled with pampered, sheltered girls. My favorite development: her pretentious thesis on the “Marriage Plot” in 18th century literature.
The day the world has been waiting for has finally arrived with the release of the epic conclusion to the The Dark Knight Trilogy. And Nolan does not disappoint in what could be (and I sincerely hope isn’t) his last Batman film of all time. But did the movie build on the wide anticipation of its 2008 predecessor The Dark Knight. Does Nolan deliver the perfect ending to a perfect trilogy? And is there actually room for more?
**Editors Note: NO SPOILERS. But as with any review still read at your own risk.
**Warning Minor Spoilers From The Previous Book In The Series***
In the previous installment of the Delirium Series, author Lauren Oliver sets up a world without the ability to love and in Pandemonium she shows us just how dark that world can be and who are the people to stop it. In this next title from the series Oliver takes us into the heart of the resistance who are a group of fighters that live in the outskirts of civilization and oppose the cure and all that it stands for. Through the eyes of our heroine Lena we navigate through the Wilds, infiltrate society and meet new friends a long the way.
When we previously left Lena she lost her guide and first love Alex, the sadness that consumes Lena after she loses Alex is heartbreaking, but she keeps on trucking. Eventually she bumps into a group of uncured folk who live in the wild and becomes fast friends with them and they all care for one another in much ways much like a family. Most notably she meets Ravin, a young woman a little bit older than Lena herself who is most definitely a survivor and good soldier. As much as I tried not to think about it this way she came off a bit like Katniss Everdeen would have had she been in this situation. Ravin is maternal and strong and that’s what makes her a great guide and foil for Lena.
Oliver does something fascinating here with her chapters, she the now and then. The moments where Lena is in the wilds first learning how to survive are the thens, and when Lena is already a full blown soldier in the war against the cure is the now. I found this a lot more fluid to read in a lot of ways because it showed us just how far Lena was really coming along. Olivers writing in general is strong compared to most YA writers. She weaves in motifs and uses prose to keep the writing enchanting and fun to read, it doesn’t come off like a young adult book at times and it’s what separates from the pack.
There is of course the typical love triangle scenario in the series which Oliver twists to her own liking but the triangle is not the central part of the series which is rare, I’m sure people have their preferences or their “Teams” as the kids are calling it these days, but you’re still more entranced with what’s happening outside of Lena’s world, the bigger picture. It’s why the Delirium Series is one of the best dystopian YA novels out there. It makes you think about politics, the little things you’d miss from your life.
It’s a good book to read on a nice summers day in the park. It’s shorter than Delirium in page length and if you’re an avid, fast reader it could probably be read in one sitting. Unlike Delirium, Pandemonium moves at a faster pace right from the get-go thanks to the “then” and “now” POV chapter flow.
Although I don’t rank my reviews I’d say this is a must read for anyone in to the dystopian novel craze and looking for some good writing.
After I finished City of Lost Souls I knew I wanted to take a plunge into something YA again so I scoured Barnes and Noble to find something similar, maybe a little less supernatural and found this series. It’s the first of a trilogy (the second book Pandemonium was released earlier this year) and is about a dystopian version of the United States where love is considered to be a disease that must be cured. Bestselling Author Lauren Oliver throws us into a world similar to the one we know now, but without having the basic ability to love it’s not the same.
It’s very clear from the beginning that we are entering a world where the Government is in full control and the people are so far gone that they believe everything they say. When one is out of control they are taken and cured once more. It’s not just romantic love that is considered a disease, its the love of a mother, the love of a friend. If a mother cares that her child falls and kisses the tears away she is considered a, “sympathizer” or “invalid” as Oliver calls it in the series. I fully enjoy the little pieces she puts on top of her chapters which you have to read closely to see are skewed versions of what we know, for example a piece from the bible is sourced to be part of a history of the world. It’s clear that the forces that be have turned theology into fact and they use that and fear to control their subjects. There are others though, people that live on the outside of the boarder that live free from government sponsored raids, curfews, and lobotomies.
Our main character is Lena and through her we see the world, and what’s great about having someone like her as protagonist is that she is under the spell and she wants to be cured. Most characters are outright rebellious from the start but Lena is not. She is an emotionally scarred girl with a lot to learn, but there is something different about her. She wants to be cured because of her past, she uses it as an excuse to forget not because she actually feels love is the root of all evil. It’s very clear from the beginning Lena’s destiny is meant for something more than being a mindless drone.
The book does start off a little slow but it’s seems to be so because Oliver wants to introduce us to the world, she wants us to understand it before we get to the gritty stuff. Yes the book is very much character driven, but we are also meant to know the world around us before we see the impact that the people on the outside will make. There are clear political implications conveyed in this book, but it is a dystopian series so obvious some allusions to politics will be involved. However, once the action gets started it doesn’t stop from there and you are instantly hooked to the point where you can’t stop reading.
Despite the slow start Delirium is still haunting, Oliver creates a world where we almost get nervous for the people in it, we sympathize for those that are no longer able to feel and worry for Lena and her fate where love is cut out of you like your tonsils. I hope the next book Pandemonium keeps up with Delirium’s momentum.
***Warning: There are spoilers here so read at your own risk.****
I missed this one in theaters because I still reeled from the let down that was Cloverfield, I felt a certain stigma from shaky cam found footage films and Chronicle just wasn’t on my list of movies to watch. Honestly there was a point where I wanted to physically go to the theater just to see it because of all of the great reviews I saw it was receiving but I was still skittish. Cloverfield left me a nervous wreck about these types of films and I admit I should have known better, but alas I didn’t. Off from work today I decided to see what was available on demand, and there it was starring me in the face. I decided it was time to suck it up and give it a go. I did love writer, Max Landis’s humor in his Death and Return of Superman video that went viral a while back, and I had a feeling that if anyone could do a regular joe turned superhero movie it might just be him. I am so glad that I was right.
*SPOILERS! DO NOT READ PAST THIS POINT FOR SOME SPOILER HEAVY STUFF*
I will preface this by saying that I was suffering from some shipper induced rage during this episode. I have no idea why, but I was totally hating on Nick’s new lady friend even though she was played by one of my favorite lady crush’s Lizzy Caplan and she was amazing. I lied when I said I didn’t know why I didn’t like her, I know EXACTLY WHY. She was with Nick and she wasn’t Jess. Now that I got that out of my system I can objectively review this episode.
We start off with the aftermath of something we don’t really know much about, Schmidt’s gotta put a 50 in the douchebag jar! We flashback and it’s Schmidts birthday and he’s down in the dumps because his party bus got cancelled due to a celebrities shindig . Jess decides that they should throw Schmidt a party because they are his bro’s and they should party down with him. (I made that joke on purpose, on a really corny purpose.) In typical dude fashion Winston and Nick are not in because they think Schmidt hangs out with total ass hats, which is really true. Eventually the guys give in because Jess usually has her way and gets a bus from school. She also orders a stripper which doesn’t go exactly as planned. Basically big jugged Asian turns into hairy, beer belly, white man.
Meanwhile Nick is on a date with Lizzy Caplan whose name on the show I can not remember and due to my shipper rage I will choose not to remember. Okay I lied her name is Julia. I can’t help it, she’s cute! Any way they go on some ass kissing party where Nick is once again reminded of the fact he should go back to law school. At this party he wears an adorable Bill Cosby sweater, and does a terrible Bill Cosby impression, John Cohen does it the best though. You should have seen him this one time at Unos it was so funny jello came out of my nose. But I digress, I love Nick he’s my guy on the show, totally love him but he pissed me off when he was trying to hide his friends from his girlfriend. He was just being a jerk about the people that he loved and I did not dig that at all. This is why I kind of hate Nick with anyone but Jess, he hides himself from them. He tries to make himself look better than he actually is, the straight man routine works for him usually but he was making me antsy. Paul and Jess’s relationship was a bit more interesting because Jess was awesome with Paul, and she acted the way she always does. Nick was trying too damn hard and it was really irritating. I could probably like him and Julia but Nick was way off when he was with her. Oh and making fun of your own friends to impress a girl? NOT COOL, Nick. He was on my shit list this episode and that never happens. You better get cool again Nick, I don’t care how cute you were in that Cosby sweater! Neither Jess or Julia deserve a jerk like that.
So back to Schmidt’s party where its going into high gear. Apparently Nick invented something called Brojuice which he of course DENIES because he is too cool for everyone, but ends up chugging it anyway. Schmidts old friend from college who is a major douche bag, and was in the pilot with the dude who stood Jess up is there. He just like Nick makes fun of Schmidt, except he makes fun of him because he was fat, not because of his personality which Nick does. (Again, SHIT LISTED NICK MILLER) He tries to get with Jess but she isn’t having it, so Schmidt goes to defend her honor and gets attacked by Curly. Winston and Nick back him up but its Julia who kicks his ass so hard the bus swerves in the opposite direction. I’m glad it was Schmidt who stood up for Jess this time around because it’s usually Nick that does it. But it wasn’t Nicks episode it was Schmidts and I’m glad we got to see a bit of that sweet, fat kid that Schmidt used to be. (Hey, I’d date him!) He ruins this by trying to kiss Jess. And the mystery of the 50 is revealed. We end with a montage of all of the douchey things Schmidt says and the roommates reactions to it, causing the jar to fill real fast.
Where the hell was Cece? I’m pretty sure she is Schmidts friend? I mean this would be the perfect episode to have her be in.
Give Winston something to do. I am so tired of him being underused, he’s the only character that barely got a story line tonight. Minus his awesome passive agressive behavior at Nick he was really doing nothing else.
I saw the Schmidt and Jess coming, but Jess’s reaction said it all. She doesn’t see Schmidt as a love interest at this point. He tries to kiss her and she laughs it off, but when she thought Nick liked her because of HIS FEET she went bonkers because it’s Nick and he may or may not mean something more to her than just a friend.
I really am mad at Nick. First off HOW DO YOU NOT BELIEVE IN DINOSAURS?! I hate people who try to hide their friends from their new relationships. He also insulted his friends, and then tried to get her to do the same. Yes Winston is competitive, Schmidt is a douche and Jess is a little nutty but was there a point? I hate watching characters I normally love act like jerks, but thats okay. I am sure all will be back to normal soon enough.
"We built this Schmidty on Tootsie Rolls!"
"Very bendy with a heart of gold! And a… crotch of gold!"
"Why are you wearing your Jury Duty pants?" "I’m not! mumble, mumble, mumble!"
"I like to see her jugs, I wanna do right by my bro."
And of course all of Schmidt’s douche lines.