Book Review: Crown of Midnight (Throne of Glass, #2) by Sarah J. Maas

Thursday, 8th June 2017

How’s it shakin’, bacon?

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Book Title: Crown of Midnight

Author: Sarah J. Maas

Publishers: Bloomsbury

Date of Publication: August 15th, 2013

Ratings: 4.5/5 (Goodreads), 4.8/5 (Barnes & Noble) & 4.5/5 (Book Depository)

ISBN: 978-1-4088-3494

Link for purchase: Book Depository

 

“A line that should never be crossed is about to be breached.

It puts this entire castle in jeopardy—and the life of your friend.”

From the throne of glass rules a king with a fist of iron and a soul as black as pitch. Assassin Celaena Sardothien won a brutal contest to become his Champion. Yet Celaena is far from loyal to the crown. She hides her secret vigilantly; she knows that the man she serves is bent on evil.

Keeping up the deadly charade becomes increasingly difficult when Celaena realizes she is not the only one seeking justice. As she tries to untangle the mysteries buried deep within the glass castle, her closest relationships suffer. It seems no one is above questioning her allegiances—not the Crown Prince Dorian; not Chaol, the Captain of the Guard; not even her best friend, Nehemia, a foreign princess with a rebel heart.

Then one terrible night, the secrets they have all been keeping lead to an unspeakable tragedy. As Celaena’s world shatters, she will be forced to give up the very thing most precious to her and decide once and for all where her true loyalties lie… and whom she is ultimately willing to fight for.

 

Celaena has become the King’s champion and has been tasked with killing those who stand in his way. Failing to do so would result in losing those who mean the most to her, but what are the consequences of following his orders? What does a long dead Queen want her to do? Why Celaena? Celaena must come to terms with who she is and accept what she must do, but can she?

 

What did I like?

I really like the way Sarah J Mass writes, how the plot unfolds and the way every last detail fits into the story. Questions are asked, eventually answered but more questions arise, but it’s not so complex that it can’t be followed. The plot progresses smoothly and doesn’t feel forced. Looking back on what I just read, it’s so clear that everything that happens is leading to the end – probably sounds stupid – but it’s as if it could never end any other way once everything in the story is considered – every line, every word seems to be pointing you, the reader, to that ending of the book – but also the series. It’s like following a string to it’s inevitable end. Side note: not gonna spoil the ending of the book but it was… pretty good. I expected this connection to be made, but none-the-less – it was interesting to watch it unfold as it did. Also, leaves me wondering where Chaol’s loyalties lie, or if he even knows himself.

 

What didn’t I like?

No book is flawless and I honestly found this love triangle grew very frustrating, very quickly. While I like the characters in the story, I don’t like a lot of their behaviors and a lot of Dorian’s and Chaol’s thoughts and feelings around the others mutual love for Celeana were petty. I can’t help compare them to Jem and Will from The Infernal Devices (honestly I thought the love triangle in that series was better executed) and maybe that’s where my problem lies – me wanting them to be more like Jem and Will, call me Captain Obvious, but their not. I try not to make that comparison, I really try! While their is increasing tension between the pair of friends, they whine a lot to themselves, in a tone that may suggest they feel they have some definite claim on Celaena as theirs and only theirs.

 

Would I recommend?

I’d highly recommend the book to anyone who enjoys fantasy novels. It’s well worth the time spent reading it!

 

My personal rating: 4.5/5

 

Until next time, warm hugs

Morgenstern!

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Movie Review: Beauty & The Beast

Beauty and the beast

Trailer: Youtube

Duration: 2 hours 19 minutes

Release Date: February 23 2017 (London)

Starring: Emma Watson, Dan Stevens, Ewan McGregor, Emma Thompson & Sir Ian McKellen

Director: Bill Condon

Music Composed By: Alan Menken

Lyrics By: Howard Ashman and Tim Rice

Ratings: IMDb: 7.8/10, Rotten Tomatoes: 71%, Common Sense Media: 4/5

Summary: Belle (Emma Watson), a bright, beautiful and independent young woman, is taken prisoner by a beast (Dan Stevens) in its castle. Despite her fears, she befriends the castle’s enchanted staff and learns to look beyond the beast’s hideous exterior, allowing her to recognize the kind heart and soul of the true prince that hides on the inside.

 

I want to begin by saying: I loved the animated Beauty and the Beast! So, I was both excited and somewhat weary about seeing the Live Action Remake, as usual going into movies like these I had high hopes (and admittedly fairly low expectations). I found that, to my pleasure, the movie blew my expectations out of the water and I was delighted.

 

The cast was perfectly chosen (though can one go wrong with Sir Ian McKellen?), the story stayed true to the original and built on it – it addressed the absence of Belle’s mother, why nobody knew about the prince or the castle or the staff within, characters were given more depth (like LeFou who, in the original, only served to bring attention to Gaston and boost his enormous ego, or the beast who was a fairly two dimensional character), music was great, and visuals were stunning.

 

As much as I love the music, I felt like that was the movies greatest let down. There seemed to be some inconsistencies in the vocals, as if some parts were heavily auto tuned, others were not, at one point I thought another person was singing.

 

I would highly recommend watching the film!

 

Personal Rating: 4/5

 

Until next time, warm hugs!

Morgenstern

 

Game Review: The Wolf Among Us

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Release Date: October, 11th 2013

Platforms: Playstation 4, Xbox One, Android, Playstation 3, Xbox 360, Playstation Vita, Microsoft Windows, iOS, Macintosh Operating Systems

Rating: 10/10 (Steam), 4.3/5 (Google Play), 4.8/5 (itunes)

The Wolf Among Us is a graphic adventure game, played from a third-person perspective. The player controls protagonist Bigby Wolf, who must investigate the murder of a woman. Throughout the game, the player will explore various three-dimensional environments, such as apartment buildings and a bar. When exploring an environment, the player may find an object they can interact with; when this occurs, they must move a cursor over the object to select and examine it. Items of interest are stored in an inventory, and can be used later in the story. The player may also talk with non-player characters, and the conversations presented in the form of dialogue trees.The dialogue options chosen during conversations will either have a positive or negative affect on how other characters view Bigby, and their perceptions will influence future events in the story. Some scenes are more action-oriented, forcing the player to respond to a series of quick time event (QTE) prompts. The player is not required to complete every QTE prompt, and skipping certain prompts may affect future events in the story.

 

I’ve been trying to figure out the, I dunno, best way to ‘review’ the game. I love Telltale’s art style in general is so cool! I also like how the story is shaped so much around the choices you make as a player. I think it’s a game that could easily be played multiple times, however as much as the choices influence the story there is a limit to how much the story is influenced, obviously.

 

What did I like?

I really liked the art style, as I’ve said, and the story. I love how they took the concept of Fables and brought them into a world we’ll all recognize. Each of the characters are made to feel so real.

 

What did I dislike?

There wasn’t anything in particular I didn’t like. Maybe this will sound a bit nit-picky, but as much as the story was altered by particular choices – I feel like it wasn’t as much of an alteration as I would have expected or imagined.

 

Personal Rating: 4/5

 

I know it’s not a very in depth review, and I do apologize for not posting anything in over a month.

 

Until next time,

Warm hugs,

Morgenstern!

Movie Review: Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find Them

Wednesday, 14th December 2016

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How’s it shakin’ bacon?

Yesterday, I went to see Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find Them with a friend. Overall, I enjoyed the movie. There may be a few minor spoilors but I shall endeviour to keep this as spoiler free. I mean, for anyone who might not have seen the movie yet. (Has anyone not watched it yet?)

 

I’m gonna start with the positives: it looked spectacular, the cinematography was so cool! The creatures in it looked great. One thing I particularly like about the world of Harry Potter is the creativity that went in to building it and making it real and enjoyable. I thought the cast was fantastic and there were so many amazing moments in the movie.

 

However, the movie wasn’t without it’s flaws: the overall plot of the story wasn’t particularly interesting and I felt like it lacked in mystery and quite often in context. A lot of things were mentioned fleetingly and weren’t given much context or explanation. Perhaps to fully follow the book you’d need to be fairly familiar with the book on which the movie is based – I haven’t read it, so I don’t know if that has any baring on anything. I also found certain characters weren’t particularly memorable – names at least. I think I spent a little too much time trying to remember character names *cough cough* Credence *cough cough* everyone except Newt *cough* … I may have looked that up… heh…

 

Personal Rating: 3/5

 

Until next time, warm hugs

Morgenstern!

Movie Review: Doctor Strange

Tuesday, 15th November 2016

How’s it shakin’ bacon?

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Dr. Stephen Strange’s (Benedict Cumberbatch) life changes after a car accident robs him of the use of his hands. When traditional medicine fails him, he looks for healing, and hope, in a mysterious enclave. He quickly learns that the enclave is at the front line of a battle against unseen dark forces bent on destroying reality. Before long, Strange is forced to choose between his life of fortune and status or leave it all behind to defend the world as the most powerful sorcerer in existence.

Today, I saw Doctor Strange! Admittedly, I had no prior knowledge of Doctor Strange as a character or what the film would entail beyond what I’d seen in the trailers (which seemed like a clusterfuck of confusion). I expected the character to be a Sherlock Holmes type, however I was pleasantly surprised. Benedict Cumberbatch’s performance was amazing, as if the character had been created specifically for him. The script was amazing (I generally love the scripts created for the Marvel Cinematic Universe), I loved the humor. The cloak reminded me of the magic carpet in Aladdin and sometimes the music was quite reminiscent of the Undertale soundtrack.

 

Overall, the character developments/arcs were, the script was amazing, the acting was on point, the effects and the plot were amazing. The movie is well worth watching and I highly recommend it!

 

Apologies for the short post.

 

Until next time, warm hugs

Morgenstern!

Book Review: Throne of Glass (Throne of Glass #1) (Sarah J. Maas)

Wednesday, 2nd of November 2016

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Today I, finally, finished Throne of Glass. Yay! Excitment! (I want to start with: still not over Sam! Damn you Sarah J. Maas!!!)

Meet Celaena Sardothien. Beautiful. Deadly. Destined for greatness.

In the dark, filthy salt mines of Endovier, an eighteen-year-old girl is serving a life sentence. She is a trained assassin, the best of her kind, but she made a fatal mistake. She got caught.

Young Captain Westfall offers her a deal: her freedom in return for one huge sacrifice. Celaena must represent the prince in a to-the-death tournament—fighting the most gifted thieves and assassins in the land. Live or die, Celaena will be free. Win or lose, she is about to discover her true destiny. But will her assassin’s heart be melted?

The story takes up one year after the events of the prequel book of novellas: Assassins Blade and in that time Celaena has spent in a death camp in Endovier. There she gets an offer from Captain Choal Westfell – become the Princes Champion and engage in a tournament to become the Kings Assassin and earn her freedom. Should she fail in this tournament she’d return to the Death Camp. Naturally, she accepts said offer. It truly became an intense ride. The story was very interesting, characters were pretty cool (though notably lacked a Sam Cortland) and I found it was well written. Plenty mystery, some romance (though can’t say I’m much for those love triangles though)… well, an over all well rounded story.

I’ve spent most of the day trying to formulate some sort of cohesive set of thoughts relating to the story and it legitimately left me frazzled. I think the story while not wholly a work of complete originality was creative. I wasn’t sure about the love triangle which features in every other series at the moment (and because neither of them were Sam!). I try to approach a book or a game with a fairly open mind and try to view it as something unique in and of itself. However, the tournament reminded me of the training portion of the Hunger Games. Small yes, but all the same. I think this book and perhaps even the whole series is going to be something you’ll either love or hate. I loved it and would highly recommend it to anyone. Now, on to book two!!!

Until next time, warm hugs

Morgenstern!

Game Review: Outlast

Saturday, 15th October 2016

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How’s it shakin’ bacon?

Outlast is a survival horror game. In order to survive, the player must either run or hide from enemies. Combat is not possible and attempts to confront an enemy will result in death. Players can hide in lockers and under beds. However, enemies will look for them in these areas, so care must be taken. When running, the player can look back at their pursuer. Closing doors will impede enemies and squeezing through small spaces can lose them.

The only item players will have equipped is a camcorder. The camcorder is battery operated and includes night vision, which is used to navigate through dark areas. Having the camcorder on helps to record events and put notes in the player’s notebook. Batteries need to be collected throughout the game to keep the camcorder’s night vision working. The story unravels through documents that can be found in various locations. They appear as blue folders with “CONFIDENTIAL” stamped on the front.

I’m insanely late to the game, but I’ve finally played Outlast to completion. I imagine the game is probably fairly familiar to most people at this stage. In short it’s a first person survival horror game created by Red Barrels in  I’d seen game play before – so I knew quite a bit about the game. Enough anyway. I really enjoyed playing the game. Unlike a lot of other horror games, Outlast doesn’t rely completely on jump scares – though they are used. Jump scares while shocking, quickly get boring. Anyway, the game keeps up a steady level of tension throughout play, which is great. The fact that I’d seen it, probably impacted how I played (though can’t say I necessarily played better or got less scared), but perhaps I was less scared because I knew what to be expecting throughout the game. Probably would have been different if I hadn’t seen any game play before playing it for myself, I think I’ll go into Outlast II blind. Make it more fun, and scary. Speaking of, I played the demo, also finishing it today. I’d seen game play of it though, before playing – but it’s still amazing. I haven’t completed the Whistleblower DLC (soon, I shall tackle the game), but I have – again – seen game play.

 

Back to the point – Outlast: it is, overall, a great game that wonderfully sets up a tense atmosphere and maintains it pretty well throughout the game. The only downside, due to limitations in video gaming in general, there were only a few limited antagonist characters and once you, the player, figure out their path/routine (which these characters will have) it makes it easier and, in a sense, almost takes from the tension. Also the ending is arguably anticlimactic, it wasn’t bad by any means. However, I’d definitely recommend the game though, especially if you love horror games.

 

If you’d like to play the PC version of of the game, it is available on Steam here, I’m sure it’s available from other places (such as PS4 store, etc.). Hopefully the link works.

 

Until next time, warm hugs,

Morgenstern!

TV Series Review: Stranger Things (Season One)

Saturday, 8th October 2016

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How’s it shakin’ bacon?

This thrilling Netflix-original drama stars award-winning actress Winona Ryder as Joyce Byers, who lives in a small Indiana town in 1983 — inspired by a time when tales of science fiction captivated audiences. When Joyce’s 12-year-old son, Will, goes missing, she launches a terrifying investigation into his disappearance with local authorities. As they search for answers, they unravel a series of extraordinary mysteries involving secret government experiments, unnerving supernatural forces, and a very unusual little girl.

So, on Thursday, I essentially spent the entire day watching Stranger Things and I loved it! I don’t really want to get into many spoilers – but then again who reads reviews and expects it to be totally spoiler free and totally unbiased?

 

The series in 8 episodes long, episodes lasting from 40 minutes to roughly an hour in duration. It was pretty addictive. I hadn’t even intended on watching it really – I had intended to spend the day watching Once Upon A Time (I am so far behind on that series!) but Netflix was being an ass-hat… So , I didn’t watch Once Upon A Time and I legitimately had no regrets! None!

 

I thought the show was creative and very interesting. Had quite a Sci-Fi, (horror?) esq vibe to it – a sort of throwback to E.T. Eleven reminded me of Jodie from Beyond: Two Souls, which is cool – both are really cool characters.

 

I suppose the fact that the season had only 8 seasons limited the amount they could achieve within a season. Some details seemed brushed over entirely, or not given enough attention. However, the show is well worth watching and I think the overall story is fairly easy to follow and the story as a whole becomes clear throughout the season.

 

Until next time, warm hugs

Morgenstern!

Movie Review: Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

Tuesday, 4th October 2016

How’s it shakin’ bacon?

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When Jacob discovers clues to a mystery that spans different worlds and times, he finds Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. But the mystery and danger deepen as he gets to know the residents and learns about their special powers.

Today, I went to see Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children! It was amazing! The movie was directed by Tim Burton (a rather apt choice), is 127 minutes long and stars Eva Green and Samuel L. Jackson. The film is based on a book of the same name by Ransom Rigs (I’m very excited to read it).

 

In the beginning of the movie we’re introduced to a very normal Jake, an adolescent male who feels as though his life is insignificant, who feels like he is living his life in a loop – a constant stream of today’s that never, ever ends. Until his grandfather dies. But through the grief of the loss, Jake seeks answers, truth and that ultimately leads him to Miss Peregrine (such a bad-ass!) and her home for peculiar children – one of many such sanctuaries for people who are different. They become his friends, his family and ultimately his sanctuary.

 

I loved the movie! I thought the plot was clever, something I’d never seen before and the characters were interesting and pretty likable and the effects in the movie (particularly the hollows) were awesome. I don’t want to spoil it if you’re unfamiliar with the book or movie, but I’d really recommend seeing it at the soonest opportunity possible. It’s well worth it and at just over 2 hours, it’s not too long. The movie has a lot of fairly dark elements to it, but equally light and happy moments. Ultimately, it’s about an adolescent finding out the truth, being a hero, finding friends and love. Cheesy, I know. As much as it has some (potentially not so vague) similarities to x-men, it’s not the same – it is, at it’s core much different.

 

Until next time, warm hugs

Morgenstern!

 

PS: anyone looking forward to Doctor Strange and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them? I’m so excited to see both!

 

Book Review: The Assassin’s Blade The Throne of Glass Novellas by Sarah J. Mass

Tuesday, 13th September 2016

How’s it shakin’ bacon?

The Assassins Blade:

The Throne of Glass Novellas

Sarah J Mass

Assassins Blade

Celaena Sardothien is Adarlan’s most feared assassin. As part of the Assassins’ Guild, her allegiance is to her master, Arobynn Hamel, yet Celaena listens to no one and trusts only her fellow killer-for-hire, Sam.

In these action-packed prequel novellas – together in one edition for the first time – Celaena embarks on five daring missions. They take her from remote islands to hostile deserts, where she fights to liberate slaves and seeks to avenge the tyrannous. But she is acting against Arobynn’s orders and could suffer an unimaginable punishment for such treachery . . .

I finished the book last night and let me just say: I love me some bad-ass female characters! First off, I would recommend the book to anyone! The characters are fascinating, the story and the world it creates are absolutely brilliant and it’s so well written it’s crazy! The book had five short stories, each telling of a different adventure and revealing the consequences of prior actions. Each of the stories are so intertwined by cause and effect and I loved that. All the same, it followed Celaena on her journey toward becoming her own person through love, loss and betrayal.

I was tempted to start writing a review (though really can this be called a review?) immediately upon finishing the book (at 2 am no less) but, I couldn’t. I finished the book a few hours ago, but even thinking about the events (particularly of the fifth story) trigger the feelings I felt during reading and immediately after. The stories caused a raw emotive response, to events the characters experienced – characters who were very real for a time and often suffering very much. To be able to establish such a real connection with a character described in words on a page, is heart breaking and amazing.

I couldn’t recommend the book more! I live for books like this, for stories that capture the imagination and make you feel like more than just a passive spectator, you become part of the world created by the writer, you become friends with the characters and love them and more over you share their pain, their joy and all of their experiences.

Okay, maybe this isn’t much of a review but I definitely, wholly recommend the book. I think you’ll enjoy it! Also, according to Good Reads I’m 33 books behind for my end of year goal of 50 books read. Oops, may have to change that!

Until next time, warm hugs!
Morgenstern!