The Blogger Recognition Award!

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HUGE thanks to The Power of the Printed Word for nominating me! A regularly-updated and active literature blog is kind of rare (I know I’m not one of them 😦 ), so give the blog a look!

The rules:

– Thank the blogger who nominated you and provide a link to their blog.
– Write a post to show your award.
– Give a brief story of how your blog started.
– Give two pieces of advice for new bloggers.
– Select other bloggers you want to give this award to.
– Comment on each blog and let them know you have nominated them & provide the link to the post you created.

How I started my blog:
I started my blog during the holidays, where I have plenty of time to read! Back then, I thought: it would be nice if I can share my view of a book to everyone. The thought emerged since very little of my peers actually enjoy reading novels, and I don’t want my memory of the books I have read to fade off (I am kind of forgetful). Besides, I want to let the good books known by more people! 😀

Eventually, that view got to other entertainment that I also enjoy, movies and games. Sharing my thoughts on the practice of reading itself is also fun for me (and it makes the blog less monotonous), so I decided to include those too!

Advice to new bloggers:

  • Write when you want to – Don’t force yourself to write a blog post when you are not in the mood to write. I know the pressure of wanting to keep the blog updated, but when you write without being in the mind for it, the writing might lack emotion or, say, your usual passion. Of course, there are some people who can craft a compelling, enjoyable piece of writing without being in the mood for it, too! XD
  • Don’t forget yourself while writing – Sometimes, you might want to share something that people like your followers will enjoy. That’s a good thing, but don’t let this kindhearted thought deviate you from doing what you enjoy, the reason you started the blog in the first place. Make sure you are also writing about what you like! Don’t solely write things that your audience enjoys, but you are not interested in. Unless you started the blog for the sole purpose of generating followers or to promote your product, of course.

That’s it coming from me! I hope all of you enjoyed reading and I really wish that my points of advice can be helpful 🙂 . I know it’s been a while since I posted literary content, but I promise I’ll get back to it! I’m currently doing my internship and dealing with my thesis at the same time, so I have a hard getting in the mood to settle down, relax, and read a good book (I plan to finish To Kill a Mockingbird soon).

Thank you for being here with me! I’ll update the blog more often soon 😀

 

My Nominations:

Susan Loves Books

Book Princess Reviews

Not So Modern Girl

Dusk Angel Reads

 

Again, thanks for nominating me for this award!

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(Movie) “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” Review

“I’m Mary Poppins, y’all!”
-Yondu Udonta, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

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The second installment to the Guardians of the Galaxy series and the MCU is perhaps one of the most engaging movies I have ever watched.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 takes place some time after the first movie, where Groot is now a baby capable of moving around and shouting. Starlord, Gamora, Rocket Raccoon, Baby Groot, and Drax are on a mission to slay a giant space monster as requested by a race called the Sovereign, in exchange for Nebula, who was captured beforehand by the Sovereign. Afterwards, Rocket Raccoon steals a battery from the Sovereign, and the race decides to capture our defenders of the galaxy through Yondu’s assistance. In the meantime, Starlord / Peter Quill meets his father, Ego, and the team splits up temporarily, with Starlord, Drax, and Gamora visiting Starlord’s father’s planet of his own creation, unbeknownst of the predicaments in the near future.

At first, the plot might seem a bit disjointed with things happening here and there as well as the alternating point of views, but soon, they all come together to create a colorful spectacle of explosions and relationship developments. I believe that having two major events happening at the same time which enables further character development of most characters and then have them meet one another for further development is a great idea 😀 .

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Subjectively, I am not a fan of Baby Groot, but I don’t hate him! I like him, but not that much, for some reason…please don’t bash me!

Speaking of character development, I have to admit that the progression of the characters is way better here than the first Guardians of the Galaxy; things are taken more seriously, and the sudden shift of attitudes (which can be found in a few occasions during the first movie, although it’s nothing too bothersome) is less here, even though Nebula’s change of character is still too quick in my opinion, especially after all the buildup she has in this second entry. As for the other characters, I really get to see they bloom in personality and develop, making them less of an archetypal inclusion, and more of a complex, unique individual. Still, a number of background information is still missing, but I assume it will be addressed in future titles.

 

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An unlikely development? Trust me, great humors aside, these two’s interaction plays a huge role in supporting the acclaimed character development (I have been saying a lot of that, haven’t I?)

 

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 has two things that the first movie lacks, and those are character attachment as well as twists. With interactions that encourage the bonds among the characters, even though a few of them lack background information, they can really grow on you as the movie progresses. If that was the aim of the first movie from the start, then I believe the issue faced by the first movie is not really a problem! XD . As for the twists, it can be somewhat predictable if you observe close enough, but it still provides enough shock-value while answering a lot of questions introduced in the first movie. After having the questions answered, just like most MCU titles, we are given a wonderful action-oriented showdown between the forces of good and evil with a few comedic showcases (you have to see the Pac-Man!), but this time, the sad moments actually felt sad for me. The buildup to the characters are resolved with an effective, lasting impact in the end, which I will not say too much since this review is intended to be largely spoiler-free.

All in all, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 addresses the issues faced by the first movie splendidly, and it avoids the category of being ‘another generic superhero movie’ in a satisfying fashion.

Rating from me: 4.5/5

(Movie) “Guardians of the Galaxy” Review

“I am Groot.”
-Groot, Guardians of the Galaxy

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I know it’s really late, but I really need to do this since the MCU review section is a mess at the moment 😛

I watched this before watching The Avengers, so I know the timeline was a bit messy, but hey, at least I can understand this just fine! Personally, I believe that Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy gives an entirely different vibe compared to the other movies, probably because of its outer-space setting, and that is a good thing! Why is that? Let’s get to the thoughts!

But before that, a brief synopsis. Guardians of the Galaxy is about Starlord, or Peter Quill (that’s a badass nickname he has),  and his attempt to survive outside of Earth by earning money through a number of tasks, including stealing an all-powerful orb which can destroy the universe. When he plans to sell the orb, the step-daughter of an allegedly supreme villain, Thanos, named Gamora, attempts to steal the orb, and then Rocket Raccoon, an outlaw in the form of a talking raccoon appears alongside his ally, the giant tree-like creature named Groot, appears and get caught in the mess. The four eventually get arrested by the Nova Corps, a kind of space-police force, and the imprisonment of these four will lead to an unlikely alliance involving the fate of the entire galaxy.

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Meet the not-so-heroic heroes!

The plot centered around unlikely friendship is often seen, but the unique casts of the characters in Guardians of the Galaxy make it more memorable; we have Starlord, the seemingly normal human being; Gamora, the powerful, quick combatant; Rocket Raccoon, the tinkerer and havoc-enthusiast; Groot, the command-abiding strong creature, as well as Drax (whom the team meets during the imprisonment), the strong dude with little brains. They are incompatible with one another, yet that constant bickering and conflict develop a certain chemistry that makes watching them entertaining. Additionally, the fact that they all have some criminal background instead of being a straight up hero makes their interactions all the more engaging and fresh.

The old-school musics and the tendency to ridicule seemingly serious moments (you’ll understand after watching the first few minutes of the movie) are great, since they provide a unique identity to the galaxy franchise, avoiding the case of it being ‘another Avengers movie’; it is a movie capable of standing on its own without ceaselessly being compared with a movie that is perhaps more renowned.

 

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I won’t rant about Thanos here since he is simply introduced in this movie! XD

 

The plot’s nice, since it is woven neatly, resulting in there being very little disorientation or a sense of it being a jumbled mess. Despite the positives, however, I personally find that the villain is kind of bland and shallow. Ronan is but a villain with an evil intent and a thirst for power. I realize that a number of villains possess those traits, but at least they have something ‘more’, something that motivates them to commence their evil master-plan. Maybe I simply have forgotten it, but if I actually have forgotten it, I think it was not that memorable for me in the first place. A similar case can be said for the background of our main heroes; we know a bit about Starlord’s background, but his is about the only information provided somewhat sufficiently. The remaining background information of Gamora, Rocket Raccoon, Groot, and Drax is provided from time to time, but they are simply in the form of occasional utterances. Sure, Gamora’s sister, Nova, explains a few things, but that’s more on her motivation to do things rather than Gamora’s. As for the others, they have it worse.

To conclude, Guardians of the Galaxy explores the relationship among the protagonists really well, but in the end, due to the lack of attachment to a number of the characters, it results in most of them being an archetypal cast, even with the bittersweet climax.

Rating from me: 3.5/5

(Videogame) “Summon Night: Swordcraft Story 2” Review

“The promise of a Craftknight is stronger than the toughest steel.”
-Edgar/Aera Colthearts

Hey, everyone! Since I enjoyed the previous entry of this title, I decided to give the second one a go! To be honest, I’ve played it years ago, but I had forgotten so much about it that replaying it was like playing it for the first time! 😀 . This was one of the earliest GBA games for me after Pokémon, so perhaps it is because of that, the series holds a special place in my gaming mind 🙂 . Now then, for the thoughts!

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The main characters have a fairly distinctive appearance now! Source: HERE

Similar with the first game, Summon Night: Swordcraft Story 2 utilizes the classic “no more dad for you” formula. In the game, the protagonist lost his or her dad due to a beast named Goura rampaging in Cliff Village. Being raised by Blaire, a craftknight, our protagonist grows to be his apprentice, living alongside his children, Orin and Tatiana. The protagonist, however, is an Edge Fencer, a bloodline that enables the person within the ancestry to wield the power of Goura, and the only person capable of sealing it off. After a shocking event, Goura’s seal is removed, and our protagonist needs to gather the sword called Daemon Edge, all in order to seal Goura once again.

The premise is pretty basic, but trust me, it develops! Moreover, there are various side stories along the way that are also interesting, albeit a little bit too short. Still, before talking about the story further, let’s talk a bit about the gameplay. At the start of the game, you would have to choose your guardian beast, and the variety is really great! Choose from a hot-blooded oni, a cool mechanoid, a wind spirit, and a devil with an alternate angel imprisoned inside her. The good thing is, you can now determine which one you want instead of having them assigned to you by answering questions 😀 .

It still retains the real time action-based combat, but more challenging, since if your weapon’s durability gets too low, it will break, so you would have to craft a new one; in the first game, your weapon’s durability automatically gets refilled after a battle, but in this one, you’ll have to either go back to the workshop to repair them manually (free of charge, yay!), or use items to restore its durability. This encourages a better weapon management, and you would have to decide whether to engage in a battle or not since you could lose your weapon because of that extra EXP. Also, in crafting, you have to use ‘shapestones’ unique to each type of the weapon you are going to make, so unless you have two sword shapestones, you cannot carry two swords with you.

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That transformation is neat! Source: HERE

Also, the protagonist can actually transform into a more powerful form! I won’t spoil anything more than that here, but the point is, it makes us feel more ‘special’, and it can act as a last resort when your health is low, because transforming not only grants you a higher offensive power, but it also refills your health to the max! Some might say this might make the battle less challenging, but believe me, the battles are harder here. Enemies guard more often and more accurately, and there are times where you battle two bosses at once, and the annoying thing is, most of them strike lightning fast! So don’t worry about the challenge, because you will get plenty of them. Well, either that or I am just not that good in the game…

Nevertheless, useful items such as the repellent amulet to decrease the random encounter rate need to be crafted manually at the shop, and the materials are not found until much latter in the game. This makes it really difficult to avoid monsters, and you might have to escape constantly because it was like your ninetieth encounter in the same map. Moreover, that scenario is bound to happen since for some reason, the game often requires you to travel back and forth. You almost achieved your destination in the map? Well then, how about putting a small event at that point where you have to travel halfway back, and then have a battle before requiring you to walk all the way to the end of the map again? I understand that this can heighten the realism and development, but when it occurs really often, with the random encounters, it can get a bit annoying, especially when the monsters in the area are unable to provide you with much EXP anymore. The ‘escape’ magic helps a bit, but you can only use it twice, and then you would need to sleep to refill it again.

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Funny moments? You still get it! Source: HERE

Story-wise, however, it’s better than the first one in my opinion. Aside from the similar, yet more complex main story, the side stories, involving a mermaid’s love, a sibling’s struggle, a ghost trying to get her body back, and many more add quite a bit of variety, making you engaged more often rather than focusing on one specific goal; after a while, trying to save the village can be quite boring, you know? Also, the twists are still there as the endgame approaches, but this time, they come in layers! So it will be a twist after a twist, and the unexpectedness is just superb compared to the previous game.

As for the cast of characters, each has his or her own personality; we have the weird but powerful Toumei, the sweet yet often hot-headed Tatiana, the caring brotherly figure Orin, the tsundere devil-angel (if you choose her as your guardian beast), a childhood friend with a personality way deeper than you would have thought, and many more. The weird thing is, I care more for the characters in the first game rather than the ones here, although objectively speaking, they have way more variety here. I wonder why….

In conclusion, Summon Night: Swordcraft Story 2 takes the already great formula of the first game, and enhance it nearly in every aspect, resulting in a deeper game with a better storytelling. There are annoyances here and there, but they are nowhere near game-breaking. RPG lovers, give this a try, and there is a 70% chance that you will love it!

Rating from me: 4/5

(Book) “Catch-22” Review

“Anything worth dying for…is certainly worth living for.”
-Joseph Heller, Catch-22

I am not a fan of war novels or those involving the armies since I am not a fan of explosive scenes in books, and the numerous military jargons make me unable to appreciate the story involved (if there are any stories at all). I suppose you can say that I am afraid that military strategies and serious political affairs might permeate the plot in war novels. Basically, a war novel is not my thing, but Joseph Heller’s Catch-22 is not it.

Catch-22 tells about Yossarian, a 28-year-old captain of the 256th squadron of the twenty-seventh United States Army Air Force stationed in the small island of Pianosa. Yossarian, despite being part of the ongoing World War II, despises the war since he believes that strangers from everywhere are trying to kill him. Not only are the people from outside of his nation’s army are trying to kill him, but he believes that everyone attempts to take his life, even those from his own squadron, namely Colonel Cathcart, a a superior constantly increasing the number of missions required for the men to be discharged from combat. As a result, Yossarian flies his bomber plane in fear, and wishes to avoid going into war missions altogether. With a number of his friends, a story about one’s fear, absurdity, and sanity will be told.

That might not provide you with anything in regards to how the plot progresses, but that’s fine, since Catch-22 is basically about numerous things. The main story is still Yossarian’s fear and his attempt to avoid flying, but there are a number of stories told, too, such as Major Major Major Major’s (yes, that’s a legitimate name) reasons in avoiding everyone wishing to meet up, saying that they can only see him when he is not in his office. There is also Nately, one of Yossarian’s friends, and his attempt to obtain the love of a prostitute working in Rome; the Chaplain’s struggle against the absurd military force and his own faith; Milo Minderbinder’s quest for corporate wealth, as well as numerous others. There is a primary plot, which is Yossarian’s attempt to free himself from life-threatening conditions, but that main plot is supported by a number of side-stories, and some of those side-stories are not even related to the main plot at all; a number of the chapters are there to provide further background information on the characters, and some of them contain a few paragraphs of crucial events, but digress into nonsensical interactions for comedic or satirical purposes.

Yossarian has decided to live forever or die in the attempt. Source: HERE

Speaking of satires, the novel is considered as one of the greatest satirical works in the twentieth century, ridiculing military bureaucracy or even the situation of the society as a whole. Satirical works are often told in an absurdist kind of perspective, and Catch-22 is filled with absurdity to the brim. Those absurdities make sense from time to time, but sometimes, the characters are so dumb that it doesn’t make sense at all in real-life, but since this is a satire, such absurdities are delightful to see. Often, the book utilizes plays of logic to emphasize the conflict or for the sake of humor. Perhaps the most well-known instance of this is Doc Daneeka’s introducing the term Catch-22 to Yossarian. Catch-22 is one of the unwritten rules stating that those with mental problems can be grounded and sent home, avoiding combat. However, the soldiers have to ask themselves to be grounded, acknowledging that they are insane in the process. Still, if they ask themselves to be grounded, that means they want to avoid putting their life at risk, which means it is a rational thought, and thus, they are not crazy. If they decide to fly the missions, putting their life on the line, they have to be crazy, so they can be grounded, but they are unable to ask for such thing since asking it would mean they are rational. Such contradictory rules are stated as Catch-22, a term from the book which has even been included in the dictionary!

The novel might seem to be a nonsensical, jumbled mess for those reading it (from the first page until its very end), especially when the some of the characters are so dumb that the story is unrealistic, and the story is told with constant flashbacks and a disorganized time frame. The first chapter is when most of the major missions have been flown, but the next chapter takes you back to before the first chapter. Then, the story takes place after the first chapter, then back to before the second chapter’s flashbacks, and so on. Things are messy, making the temporal setting of the chapters exhausting to be understood.  A feeling of dread and frustration might arise within the readers during the first few chapters, a feeling probably felt by Yossarian being situated inside the perilous, chaotic setting of war. After a few chapters, however, I begin not to puzzle things too much, and indeed, that decision to ignore the confusions paid off in the end, since as I read, things gradually made sense, at least in terms of the time; the events without any context are eventually explained, although readers would have to bear with the confusion for a while and piece together the puzzle on their own later on if they wish to.

Despite being largely casual in the beginning, relying on absurd interactions for comedic purposes, as well as unraveling background information of the characters irregularly, as the novel progresses, the story becomes darker. Catch-22 is a war novel, but it only emanates the sense hopelessness and the graveness of wartime in the concluding chapters of the novel, which increases the effectiveness of the sudden, cruel portrayal of war; you can be all happy, oblivious to dangers, or even lie to yourself all you want, but death is looming very closely.

Although the overt presentation of the story is about war, the book does not feel like a war novel to me; the element of war, although relevant, is only the blanket disguising the satirical messages towards various societal values. To me, it is a pessimistic perception towards the society, and the scary thing is, such extreme viewpoint might contain more than a few realistic, relatable aspects. It is a story of war, political games, entrepreneurial wickedness, friendship, mourning, romance, and the fragility of one’s life. The admirable thing is, all the serious stuff is portrayed through humorous, unique interactions that make it not boring at all for those not minding absurdities here and there. Moreover, the fact that most of the characters are generic (some do not even talk until a few hundred pages) makes the book’s accomplishment in making the book memorable all the more commendable.

Milo Minderbinder, a good friend that brings more harm than good. Source:HERE

There might be a huge number of difficult adjectives scattered throughout the book (at least they are difficult for me), but I believe the primary reason behind readers’ avoiding the book is due to the messy narrative mostly devoid of any sense of time, although there are indications such as the number of missions Colonel Cathcart has raised to assist in keeping track of it. Also, the sense that nothing big or exciting is happening until the first few hundred pages might discourage readers from continuing it. I happen to be a fan of absurd narratives and satires, so I find Catch-22 one of the more engaging reads I have read so far, to the extent that I finished the large book in two weeks! I can’t even finish the 200-page Heidi in two months.

I understand that this book might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but there is a reason behind its popularity. For those loving black humor and absurd reads, as well as not minding the messy storytelling, you’ll love Catch-22. For those wanting to read it because of the fame it has generated, please do give it a chance. The society that we are living in is by no means blissful, and Joseph Heller has portrayed that situation perfectly with lots of laughs.

It is messy, yet neat at the same time. It is unrealistic, yet realistic. It is nonsensical, yet it makes sense. It is strange, but not strange at all. You’ll understand if you pick it up 😀 .

Rating from me: 4.5/5

Have you read Catch-22? If yes,  what are your thoughts about it? If no, do you plan to?

(Videogame) “Summon Night: Swordcraft Story” Review

“A female Craftknight is greater than a male one. True of False?”
Sanary

 

 

I picked up some Game Boy Advance games recently out of nostalgia, and I plan to play a couple of them! “Summon Night: Swordcraft Story” was one of my earliest GBA games over a decade ago, and I still remember a number of elements of the story and the overall mechanic of the game; they are just sooo memorable! XD

The story is about Cleru or Pratty (though you can name him/her whatever you wish), an apprentice working for Bron, a blacksmith. Cleru/Pratty is the child of Shintetsu, one of the seven Craftlords in the city of Wystern. Shintetsu sacrificed himself in order to seal a certain powerful monster, and a tournament is held in Wystern in order to determine his successor. As his child, Cleru/Pratty aims to achieve his dream of becoming a Craftknight, and following the path of his/her father as a Craftlord.

That is basically the general storyline, but as the game progresses, a more complicated plot is introduced, turning it from a tournament-based story to one involving drama and the fate of the world. Aside from the main story, at the end of each ‘chapter’, players can decide to talk with a list of available characters which expands as the game goes on; this is similar to a ‘relationship-enhancement’ system where you get closer to the character(s) you choose, and this affects the ending that you will get, adding further depth to the story.

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The story is not exactly ‘amazing’ in my opinion. Although the initial premise is somehow unique, after a while, it gets quite predictable and if observed closely, it can even be considered as a generic fantasy plotline which has been applied in a wide variety of media. Nevertheless, the character design (as in the art and the archetypes used) is superb for me, and that makes the generic plot less of a negative point. In fact, I don’t think that is not a problem at all, since there are plenty of movies, books, and games that utilize similar formula with one another.

When such ‘coincidence’ occurs, it really depends on the characters to add the essential spice that makes the storytelling engaging, and I believe “Summon Night: Swordcraft Story” manages to deliver that point somewhat satisfyingly; everything is fine except for the sudden switch of personality. Personality switches are common in storytelling, but when it happens too easily or suddenly, it lacks the fundamental impact. It’s not a long game and it is meant to be played on the go without any overly complicated narrative, but I do believe that a more explored character-depth should have been possible.

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As for the gameplay, it is not a traditional RPG, but rather, the game utilizes real-time action system where the players would have to maneuver the character across the screen in a two-dimensional fashion within a side-scrolling map. During battle, players are able to cast various spells through their guardian beast, switch weapons, and perform attacks unique to each type of the weapons.

There are five kinds of weapons available: sword, spear, axe, knuckle, and drill. Players can craft them after obtaining the technique and the required materials, and they offer different playstyle. Moreover, players can switch from a sword to a drill mid-battle, enabling deeper strategic decisions while battling. Additionally, each monsters have their own elemental types, and different elemental spells might have different damage calculations on them.  Outside of battle, it plays just like any 2D RPGs; players walk around, talk to people, explore collecting loots, grind for levels, and finish sidequests for extra rewards.

“Summon Night: Swordcraft Story” is a great game despite its generic story; the beautiful character design and engaging gameplay makes up for that, and a game that puts the relationship between its characters as the primary drive for the plot is always a nice thing to have 🙂 .

Rating from me: 3.5/5

(Movie) “Spider-Man: Homecoming” Review

“I’m nothing without the suit!”
-Peter Parker to Tony Stark, Spider-Man: Homecoming

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I really need to do the reviews for the other MCU titles…since it bothers me when I have Dr. Strange and Spider-Man, but not the others even though I’ve watched most of them (well, not all yet, I’m sorry). Anyways, I finally watched something after months without watching anything serious, and I do believe that Spider-Man: Homecoming is not an entry to the MCU that is all that serious, but that’s where the charm lies.

Spider-Man: Homecoming basically picks up where Captain America: Civil War leaves off; after Peter Parker is seemingly part of the Avengers (somehow, to a certain extent, that is), he has to become a friendly neighborhood Spider-Man; giving directions to people, apprehending thieves and such. Despite fulfilling his sense of justice, Peter can’t help but feel that he can do more than those normal stuff. Eventually, however, with the equipment obtained during the Avengers’ battle with Loki in the first Avengers movie, Adrian Toomes will start a criminal scheme that fulfills Peter’s wish, and Peter is more than happy to stop this major criminal without Stark’s knowledge.

The movie starts off fun, where we are presented with Peter’s vlogs, including moments before his iconic entrance in Captain America: Civil War. Afterwards, his abilities as the comical web-slinger are showcased, and we are introduced to his normal school-life with his best friend and his high-school crush. Everything that should be shown in the life of a high-school boy is shown, and those elements are crucial to the Spider-Man entries, since, they greatly contribute to the uniqueness of the movie: dealing with common problems faced by everyday society.

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Regrettably, the day-to-day occurrences are not highlighted that much, resulting in the other characters being shallow and seemingly underdeveloped. Speaking of characters being underdeveloped, the villains in this movie, mainly the Vulture, possesses a realistic aim in performing his evil deeds, but that highly-potential background is not explored deeply enough; it is there, but it can be way, way more. The reference to Shocker is nice, although I hoped for a more solid persona, not a generic thug with advanced equipment.

Those are the only elements that I think could’ve been improved in MCU’s latest entry, and they are necessary for a complete storytelling experience, namely in a Spider-Man movie. Spider-Man kind of loses his identity as an independent hero in this one, and he seems to be more like a teenager aiming to amuse Tony Stark; I do not blame Marvel for taking Spider-Man to this direction seeing how MCU is developing, and Infinity War is just about a year away, but I do believe that the very essence of Spider-Man could have been retained in the movie’s duration with a bit of modification to the story.

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Fancy tech time!

Iron Man’s appearance here and there does not bother me, since that is the way it is supposed to be. Peter is a greenhorn to the adults’ superhero industry, and mentoring is needed given how little time the franchise has for the next huge entry to the universe. So the thing is, MCU’s Peter Parker is great, but for me, this Spider-Man feels less “Spider-Man-ish”. Uncle Ben’s not even mentioned, Parker aims to get the approval from his billionaire mentor a bit too much, losing his identity in the process, but after the end of the movie, I believe Parker has grown, and that is a good thing. I also feel that Spider-Man is too technological reliant on this entry, but since that issue is addressed in the movie later on, it’s cool 😀

I like the movie, but it’s a bit of a shame that it abandons a direction that makes Spider-Man Spider-Man. It’s a wonderful, entertaining entry to the MCU, especially with the fresh, lighter theme, but not a great entry towards the Spider-Man franchise.

Oh, and don’t get me started on the after-credits.

Rating from me: 3.5/5

(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 😀