(Short Story) “Lamb to the Slaughter” Review

Hello, everyone! I have decided to do something quite new for me here! 😀 . So, since I was in the mood to read, but not reading a book, rather, I wanted to read something nice and short, I decided to look for short stories! They are nice since they don’t require too much of your time, and you don’t need to remember all the details since you can finish them in one-sitting.

For the moment, I can’t exactly finish books, since I need to deal with plenty of assignments, but I do have the time for short stories! 🙂 . Hence, I have decided that I will do short story reviews from time to time! Hopefully, this is not boring to you 😀 .

Here goes!


“No, I’ve got meat, thanks, I’ve got a nice leg of lamb, from the freezer.”
-Roald Dahl, Lamb to the Slaughter

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The name ‘Roald Dahl’ always sounds familiar to me. I can’t fail in recognizing that name. Everytime I hear that name, images of his works such as Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, The BFG, Matilda, all come to mind. Nevertheless, perhaps of the colorful book covers and how cheerful they all sound, I can’t associate Dahl with something dark and twisted. I mean, if thought properly, there might be a few disturbing elements found in his works, but they are often not given as much spotlight and exposure as the other themes of the story.

The moment I read the title Lamb to the Slaughter, I knew immediately that this wouldn’t be a cheerful tale. Apparently, I searched for famous short stories, and I decided to pick one with the more appealing title for me, and I read this one. Knowing that the author was Dahl, I believe the story might not be as dark as the title sounds.

When I was reading, I completely forgot that the writer was Roald Dahl. The image inside my head when I picture Mary Maloney waiting for her husband was peaceful, yet for some reason, I could feel that something bad was going to happen. When Patrick returned, stayed silent, and kept on refusing Mary’s offer to cook him supper or to pour him a drink, that feeling became more prominent; it just kept on rising within yourself, that feeling of excitement, knowing something bad was going to happen, and a mild fear of what was going to unfold.

And it happened, but it didn’t end there.

 

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Source: HERE

 

The story manages to amuse me a lot despite of its really short length. The simple yet brilliant course of actions taken by Mary is nice, as in, readers might be slightly disturbed by her behaviors, but that’s the point; it makes all that foreshadowing pay off. When the policemen arrive at the scene, the readers know what happened, but the policemen do not, resulting in a very good employment of dramatic irony, and that keeps on escalating until the end of the story, and that ending is satisfying 😀 .

Dahl manages to incorporate mild feelings of dread with dark humor in the end, and the consistency of his narrative helps in building the atmosphere before ending it wonderfully, just like a joke with a great punchline.

Perhaps most of you have read it, but for those who have not, if you have about ten minutes to spare, read Lamb to the Slaughter. I think you will be engaged, disturbed a bit, and then ultimately amused by it 🙂 .

Rating from me: 4/5

(Videogame) “Inside” Review

“It’s an immaculately assembled, pitch-black joke that takes three and a half hours to tell.”
-Kotaku

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I know this game so so last year, but I just had the opportunity to play it a few weeks ago XD . I always love indie games, especially innovative ones, and Playdead’s “Inside” is a game that fulfills that criteria very well, maybe even taking it to the next level! Never have I been thinking so much about an indie game until I finished this one. So, for those don’t know, what’s the fuss all about?

“Inside” doesn’t have any dialogues. It is a game where you move around, jump around, swim around, and solve intriguing puzzles, and that’s basically it. Nevertheless, it is capable of telling a story through the gameplay; the setting is, well, some dystopian city where there are people wearing these ‘masks’, and they seem to have developed the technology of mind-control, or controlling seemingly lifeless human bodies. Moreover, there are mind-controlling parasites lingering around, and there are scientists performing weird experiments on….human? bodies? well, that aside, you play as a boy in a red shirt infiltrating the masked people’s facilities.

 

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What a strange world it is!

 

The developers certainly gave much thought to the puzzles in the game; there are those where you would have to ponder quite a bit (but definitely not too confusing), and some offer really thrilling moments, one of them being when you are chased by a long-haired being while underwater that moves unusually fast! There is also this time where you would have to hide below a large pipe to avoid being detected by the moving lights, and many more unique puzzles for you to solve delightfully 😀 . As a puzzle game, quality puzzle is a must, and “Inside” delivers them like never before seen in previous games (unless you count in “Limbo”, which was made by the same developers).

The graphics are gorgeous! I know that the people don’t have any facial features, but that is not the primary point. The environment is beautiful and detailed, where you can really admire the surroundings despite its bleak, dark environment. The physics are great, too! you wouldn’t find any unsettling graphic errors where half your body will dive into the ground, or where the objects you threw float in a straight line without any other movements. The animation is really, really fluid; a detail includes when you move the boy to a dead end or a window, for example, the boy would put his hands on the wall. If it is a window, the boy will look outside the window. These small details can really add a lot to the game 🙂 .

 

Now then, the story. I won’t spoil anything here, so no worries! XD . As a game without dialogues, “Inside” tells its tale magnificently. Unlike my previously-reviewed game, “Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons”, “Inside” doesn’t have a definitive plotline. We do know the events occurring while playing the game, but we are given very little clue to what they mean. What are those experiments for? What are those lifeless bodies? Those parasitic slugs? there aren’t any explicit answers given to the player after they finish the game, even the secret ending doesn’t answer them (it only makes the game more confusing). The events, however, are neatly structured and can really be theorized upon! Those are not just some random, insignificant events, but we can really tell that they mean something. This is the good thing, the game tells a story without telling much, but it seems really rich and deep at the same time.

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Be sure to hide very well!

Overall, “Inside” is one amazing game for me. It is not your average-puzzle platformer nor a usual game as a whole. It is unique, entertaining, and after finishing it, you will think about it, about the ending, about the characters, just everything. Then, you would create a little theory in your head, tying various events together, be surprised at how they can be added to one another, and even after that, you know there are many, many more possibilities in interpreting the story.

It is a game that stays with you for a long, long time.

Rating from me: 4.5/5

The Cookie Book Tag!

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Good day, everyone! I’m still preparing for the college exams coming in July, so I’m still yet to finish a book…I know it’s been a month or two or even more, but these exams and upcoming thesis need to be dealt with caution *sighs* . Anyways, I have a bit of time today, so I decided to do a tag tagged to me! 🙂

I was tagged by the lovely Duskangelreads (blogs about books are never to be neglected!) and the original tag was created by Sorry I’m Booked.  As book lovers, please give them a look if you want, and you might just discover new things or participate in the discussions 🙂 . Now then, the tag!

The Rules (I’ll be copying these from the post tagged to me):

  • In addition to linking back to the person who tagged you, it would be awesome if you link back to Nicole’s original post!
  • Pick a book that corresponds to the cookie’s ‘theme’.
  • Have fun!
  • Tag 1-3 people.

The Cookies

Chocolate Chip: A Classic Book That You Love or Really Enjoyed

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I love lots of classics (though not all of the ones I’ve read XD ). If I have to choose one, for me, it would be J. D. Salinger’s  The Catcher in the Rye . I find that the character Holden Caulfield is just a unique one among the seas of classics available, although not all people view him in a positive light.

 

Thin Mints: A Fandom That You Really Want to ‘Join’ AND/OR a Hyped-Up Book You Want To Read

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I plan to re-read the Percy Jackson and Heroes of Olympus series, since it’s been years, so I have forgotten most of them 😛 . I also plan to get into the Grisha world, but when I have enough money to buy all of them XD (currently, I only have the crows duology on my shelf, waiting to be read).

 

Shortbread: An Author You Can’t Get Enough Of

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Hmm, this is tough…I think it would be Neil Gaiman, since his stories are just so captivating for me, and his style is easily understandable, too!

 

Samoas/ Caramel DeLites: An Emotional Rollercoaster

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I would pick Marissa Meyer’s Heartless since that YA book provides me with a number of annoyances, delights, and sadness on multiple occasions. I know the outcome already, and I’m sure everybody does since the blurb and even the cover on some editions give it away, but still…

 

Oreos: A Book Whose Cover Was Better Than The Story OR Vice Versa, Where The Story Was Better Than Its Cover

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I would choose Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage. The cover promotes simplicity and it is simply gorgeous and meaningful. The story is nice and all, but it is somehow anticlimactic (which is how realism should be according to some, I know, but it could have been better), and although I am somewhat satisfied with the book, I can’t help but it’s missing something…perhaps it’s just me, though 🙂 .

 

Tagalongs/ Peanut Butter Patties: A Book That Wasn’t What You Expected

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Definitely FOE by J. M. Coetzee. At first, I thought it would emphasize on a dramatic storyline, but it turned out that it was more about a discourse regarding authorship and, if looked deeper, about truths and fabrications, as well as notions about post-colonialism. I didn’t think it would be this serious, and I didn’t think I would enjoy it as much, too!

 

Snickerdoodles: A Book You May Never Stop Rereading/ Loving

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I won’t stop loving all my books, actually, since I saved up a long time before buying them, so they are all special to me. Still, if I have to pick one, it would be Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-glass . That book is just lovely! I like nonsensical stuff, and Carroll presents the absurdist world neatly! I love it so much I’m turning it into a thesis XD (if everything goes well, that is).

 

Oatmeal Raisin: An Awful Surprise

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This is another difficult one… I have been including this book in a lot of tags, but again, it would be Sophie’s World by Jostein Gaarder. It’s nice, but it gets too confusing for me. It was supposed to be a thought-provoking read, but I think I ponder not on the philosophy, but the meaning of the sentences since they are a bit too complicated for me. I’ll come back for you in a few months!

That’s all for the tag! I tag:

Book Princess Reviews

Olga’s Oddish Obsession

The Bookish Wanderer

I hope you haven’t done this before! Thanks again for the tag, and for those reading this post, I would like to say thank you very much! I really appreciate all of you 😀

When Do You Read?

 

Hello again! It’s been a while (again!). Unfortunately, I couldn’t do some weekly posts and respond to the tags and awards consecutively, since I was getting more and more occupied with college (it’s near the end of the semester and all), and I figured that if I did tags and awards only during these busy times, I would lack content coming from myself. So, I believe that tags and awards would have to wait, if there were any more left, that is (I’m really really sorry for this! 😦 ). Still, I have some time to spare from time to time, and during those times, a thought came to me, and I would like to hear your thoughts about the matter, too! 😀

Lately, I’m trying really hard to read the book I am currently reading (it’s Johanna Spyri’s Heidi), but while reading, my thoughts keep on drifting towards the assignments and final projects which need to be done, even though at certain times, there really wasn’t much I can do about them. I need to finish things one by one, and not all of them altogether, and I told myself that I deserve a break after finishing one. Nevertheless, those thoughts always find ways into my mind when I try to read, resulting in me not really being able to read the book at all.

Usually, I can read any time I want as long as my mind is not plaguing me with all the serious thoughts. Lately, however, these thoughts cannot be cleared off unless I solve them, but the problem is, I need time to do so. I would work on them for hours, and give myself an hour or two of break-time, for example, before returning to them again. During the break, I can’t focus on reading.

With this, I realized that I am the type of person who can only focus on reading when I am in the right mood for it. Now, I know that some people can read to ‘escape’, seemingly forgetting about all the serious stuff before returning to them after reading, but I just can’t do it. I tried. I even tried to read one chapter each day, but that didn’t work most of the time. I need to clear my mind off these projects to really read. While playing games or watching videos, however, I can temporarily give myself a break, but not with reading. I believe I need to concentrate more on reading compared to the mentioned leisure activities, so that probably explains it.

With that being said, if I may know, when do you read? Can you read any time you want without being hindered by real-life problems? I believe it is interesting to get to know fellow readers with different or even the same reading behavior 🙂

 

 

 

 

(Videogame) “Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons” Review

“This is one journey you will never forget”
-Starbreeze Studios

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I am interested in games with silent narratives lately, so I decided to give Starbreeze’s “Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons” a try. First and foremost, I do know that this a game from years ago, and I was really late for the party, but I was very much excited to dive into the fantastical world of the game anyways! XD

The game is about two brothers trying to find a cure for their sick, and perhaps dying, father. The brothers lost their mother long before this incident, and now, they would have to risk their lives to obtain a cure, said to be found inside a humongous tree far, far away. Now, in order to reach that tree, the brothers have to traverse the continent, through giants, starving wolves, abandoned fortresses, the frozen continent like the arctic, and more treacherous regions.

I’ll talk briefly about the game’s system first; in this regard, the game employs a unique control scheme and concept, where the player controls two characters at once: the older brother and the younger brother. Aside from the movement buttons, the only other button for each of the sibling is the interaction button, enabling them to grab onto ledges, pull levers, grab and throw objects, or splash water to someone’s face while sleeping (yeah, that can happen!). This makes getting used to the control to take a while at first, but soon players would be able to move the brothers swiftly enough.

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Isn’t this gorgeous?

Now, the game’s world. I really like how the game presents itself as a seemingly usual world at first, with sheep, a fierce dog, and many people. Later into the game, however, players will discover giants, gryphons, large whale-orca-like hybrids, and other unusual creatures and occurrences. This fantasy-themed world looks even better with the game’s breathtaking visual design! When you reach the top of the cliff from the bottom, for example, you can actually see far down below, still in great detail 😀 . I’m not a person judging a game by its graphics, but having a nice graphical property is certainly a bonus!

As for the gameplay, I really like how the brothers are largely dependent with each other. Most of the time, players spend time solving simple, yet fun puzzles, such as getting one of the brothers to the other side of the gate to pull a lever for the other one so that both of them can pass through a gate. What makes it all the more interesting is the trait each brother has; the younger one can slip through gaps, and the older one is stronger to pull heavier levers, for example. The system is intuitive and fun, so solving these puzzles doesn’t feel like a repetitive chore at all. To add more to the mix, there are hidden side-quests for the brothers to do, such as looking for the three small-turtles for a giant turtle, or freeing a caged bird, all of which might seem trivial, but they are a lot of fun and great additions to the world 🙂 .

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Control the two brothers simultaneously to solve innovative puzzles!

Now, the core-value of the review: the story. The characters in “Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons” can speak, but they talk in an unknown language, which sounds gibberish to me. The game mostly portrays and tells the unfolding events by actions, so we can understand what is happening through the characters’ gestures and movements (such as when a giant beckons for the brothers to follow them, enabling us to know he is escorting them). Even the characters’ personalities are shown through actions! An example include the brothers’ interaction with an inventor. When the older brother talks to him, he shows him the map of the area, asking for direction regarding the miraculous tree. However, in the case of the younger brother, he plays rock-paper-scissor with the inventor, instead (and the result varies from time to time!).

Despite the lack of dialogues, players can understand the story easily, and the story does not disappoint. What starts out simple develops into a richer, more mature narrative, with various creatures and the developing bond between the two brothers, leading to an amazing ending. I won’t spoil anything here, but you have to believe me that for a ‘silent’ game, the story is magnificent!

“Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons” is a short game, but it feels more satisfying and meaningful than some of the longer games that I have played. Give it a try, and you won’t be disappointed! 😀

Rating from me: 4/5

One Lovely Blog Award!

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Hello! It’s been a while! I’m still in the middle of the college exam, but I managed to get a breather for now 🙂 , so I decided to address the awards and tags! (hopefully on a weekly basis), and it starts with the earliest one, which is the “One Lovely Blog” award! I’m so excited for this XD .

First of all, I would like to say a HUGE thank you to Olga’s Oddish Obsession for nominating me (post HERE), and I’m really sorry for the late response! I am sooo honored for this, and please check out Olga’s blog if you are into books, which I believe you are! right? right?

Before going further, as the rules say, I’ll lay down the rules.
•Thank the person who nominated you and link their blog
•Add the One Lovely Blog Award to your post
•Share 7 things about yourself
•Pass this on to as many people as you like (max 15)
•Include this set of rules
•Inform your nominees

Now then, 7 things about myself again 😀

1. I am currently busy thinking about my soon-to-come thesis! Oh, and for the time being, I plan to conduct the literary research based on Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland! Hope things will go well!

2. I am on a reading slump right now, too…hopefully that will be brief! I plan to pick up Johanna Spyri’s Heidi, but well, the SLUMP!!! D: . I’ll definitely do it after the exams are over!

3. Political news is not my thing…so aside from the really (and I mean REALLY) major ones, I have very little political knowledge.

4. I have recently finished a number of games, namely Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons and Inside. I played them for research purposes, since there is this particular course requiring me to analyze the creative writing in video games 😀 .

5. I have made a resolution to not buy books for a few months (which started around 2 months ago), since my books are piling up and there are still plenty to be read XD . Um, I am not the only one, right?

6.   Pokémon has always been one of my favorite franchise (the game, of course! I don’t really like the anime…sorry…), and very recently, I started playing showdown again (I have to admit this, I don’t have enough money for a 3DS at the moment, or rather, I’m not willing to spend my money on that).

7. I plan to read Orwell’s Animal Farm after Heidi, so I think I will enrich my historical knowledge soon!

My Nominations 

Get up the Nerve
Originally Lexy
The Reading Bug
bookishblabbers
Cheeky Booky

All the blogs above are great 🙂 , and I would definitely tag the others for the other awards (if there are any) XD

Thanks again for the nomination, and I will definitely try to post more often! 😀

(Book) “Fahrenheit 451” Review

“The magic is only in what books say, how they stitched the patches of the universe together into one garment for us.”
– Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451

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Before I go on with this fired-up review of mine (see what I did? XD , okay, that was a bad one, probably…), I have to say that I will definitely be doing the tags and awards, but since the college assignments are flooding right now, that might have to wait, again (I’m sorry!), but I’ll certainly do them 😀 .

Okay, so, I decided to read Ray Bradbury’s renowned “Fahrenheit 451” since I had heard plenty of nice comments on it, and I was in a need for some inspiration for one of my assignments. Even though I didn’t use this book for the assignment in the end, I have to say that reading it was a time well-spent!

“Fahrenheit 451” takes place in a dystopian future, where books are now illegal. The world is ruled by televisions, and those revealed to possess books will have their books and even residence, burned down. As for the ones conducting the burning, they are called as “firemen”. Yes, firemen are not putting out fires, but rather, starting them. One of the firemen, named Guy Montag, meets a high-school student named Clarrise McClellan, who told him about the times when books are recognized sources of knowledge and expression. Gradually influenced by this, Montag’s perception of life shifts, and after the mysterious disappearance of Clarrise, the situation gets more and more severe.

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We burn books, and your hard-earned cash in purchasing them! Oh, and your house, too! Source: http://www.deviantart.com/art/Fahrenheit-451-106818438

Even the the blurb itself, the book’s point is quite clear: books are important, and can be threatening to some figures of authority. Therefore, we are going to talk about what makes the presentation of the message so appealing. In my opinion, the very concept of the dystopian world is interesting enough; firemen burning books? that’s unheard of! XD . As alarming and serious as it is in the book, that concept is undoubtedly unique, and the establishment of the world is also detailed; we get specific terms, such as “Beetle” for the vehicle, “Salamander” for the ‘firetrucks’, and even the ones inside the TV shows are called as “family” or “relatives”! The futuristic world is nicely constructed with its own details, and they are so strangely unpleasant that readers can immediately know that something really bad is going to happen, soon. When things do happen, the distressing nature of the governance system and ideology is revealed in a weirdly nice fashion.

Aside from the vivid dystopian vibe and atmosphere, the fact that the book attempts to emotionally engage the reader through various occurrences in the book, such as the disappearance of Clarisse (who is, at first, the only sensible character in the book), Mildred (Montag’s wife) and her suicidal tendencies, and even the intimidating speeches by the captain of the firemen, Beatty, deserves some huge credit. I know that it might not be as emotionally engaging as YA literature or some classic romance stories, but the very attempt to create these characters and having them behave in interesting manners is by no means lousy; Mildred and her TV addiction is superbly illustrated, and Faber’s reason on staying silent can be empathized with, all due to Bradbury’s detailed, spot-on narratives. The presence of parties who are clearly ‘brainwashed’ by the world, and those who still retain their rationality might seem to be generic, but Bradbury manages to paint the conflict among those two forces brilliantly, evoking the readers’ desire to root for Montag. This is strengthened by the fact that it seems to be Montag going against the entire city to support his belief. Unfairness makes for an immense number of supporters, and “Fahrenheit 451” proves it true.

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A Mechanical Hound to chase evil (or actually, right?) doers? and it has the capability to track your chemical compound? Nope. Source: http://ellisonpav.deviantart.com/art/The-Mechanical-Hound-5755488

Books with such a strong, explicit message and storytelling might be too preachy at times, and I have to say that this one CAN seem to be a bit preachy in certain parts, but at least Bradbury managed to integrate those didactic thoughts into appropriate situations. So, it’s all well in the end! At first, I was quite bothered by the purple prose describing the situation, environment, or objects, but soon, I got used to it, so I believe readers won’t be really bothered by that. Also, since the book is a short one, there may be the lack of character development and I think Montag undergoes a shift of mindset too abruptly. Aside from these, I couldn’t seem to identify any other flaws 😀 .

“Fahrenheit 451” delivers a clear message with a number of interesting characters. The development might not be much, some might be too sudden, but for a book this short, those flaws are tolerable. To me, this little masterpiece has conveyed how important books are in an engaging manner with its suspense, drama, and a disturbing vision of the future. Additionally, I believe it sends more warning to our modern society than just the importance of books, it is about the danger of technology, majority-envy, and the ironic conclusion of being depressed while believing that we are happy.

Rating from me: 4/5

Have you read “Fahrenheit 451”? What do you think of it? Some people say this is one accessible book, and I do agree, but there are still some passages where I pondered quite a lot to get what they mean, and even then, I wasn’t sure if I got them right! XD

(Videogame) “Gone Home” Review

“You know that feeling where the first moment you see someone, it’s like they have a big gold star around them, and you have to get to know them?”
– Samantha Greenbriar, Gone Home

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Okay, so I know it has been a while since I posted a game review, but the reason why I posted this was not because of “I should do a game review” (since I am a person who does things I like when I like without forcing myself to), but because I had to play games to analyze its narrative for a college course (which I would be more than glad to, of course!). So, I decided to try “Gone Home” by The Fullbright Company out, and it was not what I had expected.

It was way, way better.

To start off, in “Gone Home”, you play as Kaitlin Greenbriar, a woman who has just returned home to Oregon after spending a year in Europe. It is raining, and you are greeted by a note from your sister, Samantha, on the front-door, saying that you should not investigate where she had gone. When you open the door and go inside the house, no one is home.

“Gone Home” is a game where the only thing you do is to explore and read, a lot. You see, the game does not have any form of monstrous creatures to attack you nor ghostly apparitions to scare you. It’s just you, the rainy weather, the occasionally-flickering lights, and lots of notes and letters. Sounds boring? it might sound that way, but no, it is not boring at all!

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It might be unsettling (and spooky) at first, but you’ll enjoy it!

In the game, your task is to explore and read various texts and documents scattered across the huge house and piece the events together to find out what had happened to your family members, which are your parents and your sister. Now, what makes this game interesting is its atmosphere; the house seems utterly quiet, and the rain keeps on pouring, yet in this situation, you would have to turn on the lights, and explore every corner of the house (with occasional creaking sounds from nowhere) to solve the mystery surrounding it. Seems simple enough, but trust me, when you play this game, the atmosphere will change.

The game’s selling point is most likely its storytelling. Let’s talk about the story first. “Gone Home” offers a family drama, involving relationships, careers, and even death. Moreover, those conflicts are not superficially presented; they are deep, realistic, even controversial in our society. The thing that makes it even better is how relatable and emotionally engaging they are; we can picture the situations during the conflict, the scenes can play themselves inside our mind when the only thing we do in the game is reading letters. Now this is when the power of words are strong; they can conjure up images inside your head when they are appropriately presented, and the game does just that.

Now, how does the game present this deep narrative? as I have mentioned you read letters and notes and look at pictures, pretty much everything in the house has details that you can dig further for developing the story. You can see your (Kaitlin) mother’s ID card attached on her working uniform in the closet, movie tickets on the floor, letters from your family’s friends, notes on the refrigerator, basically all the normal stuff. It is precisely because they are all so normal, they are so believable! 🙂 . Not to mention that they are somehow realistically placed and scattered about, so you wouldn’t find documents in inappropriate locations (unlike most games nowadays).

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Like reading? you’ll love this game!

As the cherry on top, tiny things in the form of objects make the game all the more immersive; you can see a skull complete with the Mexican words on the back, and later during the game, you will find out that the skull is actually a souvenir from your little sister’s friend; there are cassette tapes that her friend gave her, and you can listen to them; there are books your father previously wrote since he works as a writer, and many more details. The game doesn’t just present you with a compelling story, but it supports that story with various realistic details to make it all the move enjoyable.

In the end, “Gone Home” is one amazing game. I expected it to be a typical game unable to leave any deep impression on me, but after playing it, I don’t think I can ever forget this game completely. Go try it out! If you like books, there are plenty of texts, and the game has very little puzzle-element, so you won’t have to overthink 😀

I have to say that “Gone Home” deserves all of its awards, and it would be a shame if this were to be the only game with such a unique, deep manner of storytelling (I know a few games like this, so I’ll try them out in the future 🙂 ).

Rating from me: 4/5

(Book) “Heartless” Review

“The easiest way to steal something, is for it to be given willingly.”
– Marissa Meyer, Heartless

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So, this is my first Young Adult read in a very long time, and I have to say that I was very pleased with the fact that there had been a recent release related with Wonderland! I am a huge lover of Lewis Carroll’s most iconic and influential classic, so I was naturally excited to read Marisa Meyer’s prequel to the story.

“Heartless” tells the backstory of the canonical work’s most notorious antagonist, the Queen of Hearts. The Kingdom of Hearts is governed by a seemingly nonchalant and joyful King. In the kingdom, Catherine Pinkerton, the only daughter of the Marquess and Marchioness, has a dream of opening her very own bakery. Her beauty and delectable pastries have attracted the attention of the King, but she shows no interest for romance. That is, until she meets the kingdom’s Court Joker, Jest, to whom she is deeply attracted to. In achieving her dream, to live her romance, all while dealing with her inner conflict, family struggle, and a monstrosity that is the Jabberwock, we will see the unseen side of the merciless Queen of Hearts in her youth.

This is my first read on Marissa Meyer’s work, and her narrative is just so compelling to me. Meyer managed to write in a way that is not overflowing with flowery descriptive, but just enough details to verbally illustrate the retold Wonderland. The dialogues are lively, intriguing, and animated, especially since they really show the unique traits of each character. We have the unpredictable Cheshire Cat, the moral value-obsessed Duchess (named Margaret Mearle), the incorrigible Mad Hatter, and a number of more fresh characters. Such devotion to the original is really commendable for me, since in a form of retelling, having characters out of character is a really serious ‘sin’. Well, not really, but it is a turn-off to some extent 😛 .

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The Cheshire Cat has always been my favorite character, including here! Source: http://www.deviantart.com/art/Royal-Flush-298840727

The nonsensical nature of Wonderland (though I should just say the Kingdom of Hearts) is still there, where the Hatter, or Hatta, runs from time; the Cheshire Cat’s vanishing antics, the famous “DRINK ME” shrinking potion, the croquet game, and the literal Lobster Quadrille. Most of the things that old fans have come to know and love are reintroduced or at the very least, referenced in the story, and that can make reading it a hunt for these subtle, yet fun elements. Therefore, reading Meyer’s “Heartless” can really feel like going down into the Rabbit Hole all over again, with the fantastical characters and wonderful world.

As weird as the tale is, however, those are not the primary focus of the book. Meyer emphasizes the more ‘logical’ point of the Kingdom of Hearts, making the nonsensical occurrences side-dishes, while serving drama and emotional struggle as the main course. We are not presented with a tale full of absurdity, but we are wearing the shoes of Catherine so that we can understand and relate to her feelings, which are by no means nonsense. The characters, from the Duke of Tuscany, Sir Peter, even the King of Hearts have their own sides which are definitely humane and not absurd; we are reminded that even in the apparently mad world, the inhabitants are still sane, that Wonderland is not all nonsense. This brings another unexplored side of the world, and that is another plus point since it allows the room for in-depth character development (which the book certainly has), and that appeals to the older audience much more.

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There will be lots of cakes, tarts, and especially macaroons while reading. Get ready to get hungry! Source: HERE

Starting out innocent and pure, simply wanting to fall in love, we all know the inevitable end that will shape her into one of the most recognized villains in literature, turning the magical Kingdom of Hearts into a world of madness. Now, that knowledge is exactly what makes reading “Heartless” engaging. How can such a nice, sweet girl turn into an abominable tyrant? Meyer has provided a nicely constructed, reasonable cause for that, and despite us knowing the outcome, the string of events that unfold, with more and more conflicts can really make the pages fly. I won’t spoil anything about the unfolding events here, but they are nowhere near shallow! (although they are predictable to some extent).

Nevertheless, there is one point that somehow bothered me while reading, and I am sure that it has bothered a number of readers, too: love at first sight. I honestly believe that Cath falls in love too soon, too easily, and too helplessly with Jest the Court Joker. She wants a bakery, is resilient in not wanting to marry the wealthy King, but a handsome joker appears, and she falls in love very shortly after. I know that love is inexplicable and can be very sudden, but reading sentences about Cath’s inability to resist Jest’s presence, her feeling more and more attracted to him and such irked me a few times during the earlier pages. After managing to finish the first quarter of the book, however, things got really interesting, so I guess that isn’t a major problem, after all XD .

“Heartless” is a wonderful book, even for those new to Wonderland. Of course, for those familiar with Alice and her adventures, there will be numerous plus points while reading, but newcomers can enjoy it too in my opinion. It is a heartbreaking book, and I do hate Catherine since she made so many wrong decisions throughout the book, or the right decisions at the wrong time, but I can relate to that; yes, I hate her but also pity her at the same time. I believe that is what Meyer intended when writing this, and boy, has she succeeded in doing so.

Now I can never view the Queen of Hearts the same again. Oh, and the Hatter too! Read this one and find out 😃

Rating from me: 4/5

Have you read the book? If yes, What do you think about it? If no, do you plan to? Let me know! 🙂

(Book) “Stardust” Review

“Every lover is, in his heart, a madman, and, in his head, a minstrel.”
― Neil Gaiman, Stardust

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So I FINALLY finished Gaiman’s “Stardust”! It took me quite a while to finish a seemingly short book, but I did it! Just to clarify, it was not because of a reading slump, but rather, the massive amount of responsibilities at college which I had to resolve. Yes, I still have a number of issues to take care of even now, but I would like to take a little break and write my thoughts about the fairy-tale for adults.

“Stardust” tells the fantastical adventure of Tristran Thorn. When Tristran is walking home with his crush, Victoria Forester, he makes a deal with her, saying that if he manages to retrieve the fallen star, she will have to do whatever he desires (since Victoria doesn’t like Tristran, at all). Therefore, Tristran passes through the village of Wall, into Faerie, a land where filled with witches, a unicorn, sky-ships, a shining girl, and brothers killing one another for the throne of a kingdom.

The very description of the book is interesting for me; I am fine when it comes to a love-struck protagonist, but when the main character actually decides to do something apparently impossible, even stupid, then I just love it. Characters that do not think about things that much are often entertaining to be read, and Tristran Thorn fulfills that standard quite nicely, although there are definitely a number of flaws within his character. Nevertheless, Tristran is not an annoying character nor an unlikable one; he solves problems in a unique fashion, and his overly honest personality makes me unable to hate him.

Tristran is by no means a great character, but that is complemented by the fact that the world of Faerie possesses an abundance of whimsical elements along with the dreadfully twisted ones; we can see tiny glowing people, a loyal unicorn fighting with a lion, and curses, LOTS of curses. Such a unique blend of environment might be a bit random, but it provides the narrative with fresh elements to be enjoyed by the readers. Aside from the lively world, the characters are portrayed to be quite attractive, especially the witch-queen, or the eldest of the lillim; this main antagonist is written so well that I despise, yet admire her at the same time.

 

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A girl who is a star? Interesting! Source: https://id.pinterest.com/pin/529384131169311596/

Speaking of characters, there are quite an amount of characters in “Stardust”. There are a few protagonists, some antagonists, and some deuteragonists; the characters are related to one another, and their interactions are exciting to witness. Seeing a villain going against another villain is entertaining for me, and the book offers plenty of them. By abandoning the traditional formula of always having the good guys going against the bad guys, I believe this is a nice change of pace from most fairy tale formats.

One more nice thing, the string of events. Boy, I enjoyed the story so much because of how clever Gaiman has arranged the sequences of events. We see Tristran looking for a star, and a coincidence enables him to perform some feats or to achieve his goals, but then various villains are looking for the star, too. Those villains encounter one another, and their interactions mark other events that will determine the outcome of the characters’ actions. Okay, that might sound a bit confusing, but basically most of the deeds done by the characters, good or bad, really influence the flow of the story, making it containing very little insignificant, filler-like interactions.

Of course, there are flaws in the book despite the fact that I thoroughly enjoyed it. First, the world seems to be too random for me as I have mentioned before. There are witches, and ambitious sons of a kingdom’s ruler fighting one another, as well as a cursed, cat-like woman with an integral role to play in the story, as well as various magical elements. As the story progresses, things gradually make sense, but in the beginning to the middle, I couldn’t help but feel that a number of these elements felt ‘out of place’ and messy. One additional problem includes the rushed-pacing. At first, the story develops just fine, but during the final chapters of the book, Yvaine (you’ll know who she is while reading) and Tristran’s adventures are told in a few passages, and personally, I think that they could have been developed into finer, separate chapters. I do realize that it might affect the length of the book in a bad way since it might be redundant, but without them, the relationship between Yvaine and Tristran developed way too suddenly for me. At that point, I thought “wait, didn’t she hate him a few pages back?”.

I love the book, especially when I am really into fairy-tales. “Stardust” is one engaging read after some time, but the very little flaws that I have mentioned above are too crucial for me to ignore, and that made me drop the score a bit. Regardless, fairy-tale lovers who are fine with some gore and very little adult-moments, it is most likely that you will love this one!

Rating from me: 4/5