Thursday, December 17, 2009

Rookie Bookie

Books. Yeah, I read 'em.
And to prove it, I'm going to write a little review on the ones I have read recently. Last week alone I read 3! Since then I've read another 2. Go me. Just showing you I can actually put down the controller, get up from the couch, and mosey up to my room to read for hours on end. Such is life.

Yes, I've read Twilight. I read the series after it being strongly suggested to me by a friend (way before the movies). Yes, I enjoyed them. Yes, I'm on Team Jacob. Or Edward. Screw it, I'm probably on Team Emmett. I read all 4 books in 5 days. Each day I would wake up, frantically wait until 10am then walk to the book store just around the corner from my house and purchase the next one. So yeah, I get vampires. I like the idea of them too. I recommended the series to my Mum (an avid reader) and she bloody loved them too. But she remained addicted to vamp novels, and continued to purchase every vamp series the book shops could offer her to satisfy her thirst (pun intended). There are hits and misses in vamp series as you'll see. And I'm not just reading Vamp novels either.

Vampire Academy Series by Richelle Mead
- Vampire Academy
- Frostbite
- Shadow Kiss
- Blood Promise
I liked this series. The books are very easy to read - I was reading one a day. The female protagonist Rose is strong, sharp and witty - everything Bella from Twilight wasn't. The author also creates new elements about the Vampire world which work effectively. For instance, there are two types of vampires - Moroi (who are alive and wield elemental powers, which I believe could have been played up more) and the Strigoi who are undead, evil, and kill people to eat. Then you have the Dhampirs (Rose), a half human/half Moroi who's sole job is to protect the Moroi (her best friend) from being attacked by Strigoi. Sounds complicated, but it works.
It can be a bit teenagey here and there because most of the series is set in a boarding school-like scenario, and is trying to be the next epic love tale. On the whole, not bad! 7.5/10

The Mortal Instruments Trilogy by Cassandra Clarke
- City of Bones
- City of Ashes
- City of Glass
For once, Vampires are not the main supernatural specimens. You explore a world of Shadow Hunters who's job it is to control the peace pact between the Downworlders (werewolves, vamps, faeries, warlocks etc) and to slay demons from other dimensions. It takes a new direction in fanatical magic, obtaining health, stealth, strength and luck by drawing the corresponding runes onto their skin, leaving black tattoo-like marks all over their body.
The story revolves around the are-they-or-aren't-they siblings/lovers Clary and Jace. Clary discovers the existence of demons and Shadow Hunters, when in fact she shouldn't be able to see them at all. The Shadow Hunter in question is the angelic looking Jace - who every girl under 25 will just lust after. He holds a lot of his upbringing on his shoulders, something it seems only Clary can remove.
The three books seem to offer something new in each - and special mention goes to the character of Simon - Clary's unsuspecting but incredibly funny best friend who gives many of the best one liners. I also think he wears a Star Wars and a gaming shirt throughout the series - my kinda guy!

How to Break Your Own Heart - Maggie Alderson
I've read all of Maggie's previous books, and adored them all. It's definitely a girly girls book - where you live out your fantasies of good looks, great jobs, tons of money and amazing lifestyles. This book is set in England, which is the first time her books have ventured away from the familiar shores of Sydney. It's about late-thirties Amelia, who has been married to her perfect husband for the last 15 years of her life. Everything seems oh-so-fabulous darrrling, except he doesn't want kids. Eep.
Fun and light to read - watch for the character of Kikki, a crazy, floozy girlfriend with far too much money and no requirement to work for it. 7/10

House of Night Series by P.C + Kristin Cast
- Marked
- Bunch of others you dont need to know
Put simply - these series are so very bad. It is written as if it's for 10 year olds, but in the first third of the book the lead character catches a girl trying to give a 'uber hawt' guy a blow job. ???I will not read past the first book, that was hard enough for me. They try to pass Faith Hill of as being a 'Vampyre' and use the word 'poopie'. No thanks. 2/10.

Evernight - Claudia Gray
I didn't mind this book. It is set in the usual boarding-school surroundings and focus on the school, students and studies at a darkly school called Evernight (cough, Harry Potter). But this book threw me out - there are 2 main twists that weren't as predictable as other books I've read. That's a good start! They are definitely trying to do the whole epic love story thing here, and the whole forbidden love thing too. How original. Problem is I don't know enough about these characters (Bianca and Lucas) to really yearn for them, with them and to really feel anything for them. In fact, I like the other guy that is in the class called Balthazar, he is very well-mannered and I think more boys should take a leaf out of his book. Even if he is a vampire. Spoiler. Whoops. Not too sure if I'll read the other 2 in this series: Stargazer and Hourglass (due for release this year)

Ender's Game - Orson Scott Card
This is not fantasy. There are no supernatural species. This, I'm proud to say, is science fiction. I don't read sci-fi. But this book is AWESOME.
Written in 1985 by the unusually named author, it is set in the future during a century of war with insectiod aliens called 'Buggers'. The story follows Andrew 'Ender' Wiggin from 6 years of age, when he is plucked from school to start at the Battle School to train him up to become a fleet commander. Ender is a child genius, as are his two older siblings. His eldest brother was too cruel and ruthless, his sister Valentine too compassionate and kind. Ender was the perfect balance of both, and showed tactical perfection in both training and games. He rises through the 'ranks' at an unheard of pace - keeping up with the students many years older. It is a real psychological journey in Enders mind, observing what decisions are being made by the head of the school to make him the ultimate person to save the planet from a future invasion.
It is so cleverly written that it absorbed me in. I felt so empathic for Ender, and the amount of pressure thrown on him is exhausting. It is such a good read, one I did in less than a day. It has won a lot of awards, and it's obvious why. 9/10

Dead Until Dark - Charlaine Harris
Otherwise known as True Blood on television. There are a hell of a lot of books in this series.
I've wanted to read these books as I'd started watching the series on Showtime and enjoyed it. I got a little lost at one stage, then I fell behind, then gave up. Reading the books let me do it at my own pace, but the characters have already been created for me. It is a fun book. There is lots going on, and major things are dropped in, like mind-reading, vampires and shape-shifting without much exposition or explanation. But it works! Sookie Stackhouse is such a gal. She knows how to hold her own with a smile on her face, and has been through a lot without wanting to throw pain back at the world. The book is very similar to the series - but there is no Tara yet! Thank god! That girl irks me to tears. I really enjoyed this book and will read the entire series. 8.5/10

Currently reading:

Graceling - Kristin Cashore

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Blame the Game

If you're wondering why I don't venture out so much these days... well you can blame THESE games for occupying my mind and time.

Over the last few weeks I've been heavily playing:

Nintendo Presents: Style Boutique.

I know, I know. What the hell am I - a successful, female ADULT - doing playing this game? It's simple. This game is AWESOME. And oh so incredibly addictive! I recently spoke on A Current Affair about the top Nintendo must-have Christmas buys were. This was one of the games. By looking at the name, the design, and the concept of the game, you'd be forgiven to think that this is a game perfectly suited to the tweenage girl market. I thought the same thing. Until a lady (in her 30's) from the PR company that was helping me with the shoot confessed that not only has she played it, but she can't put it down. She was incredibly proud of her boutique and the turn-over she was raking in, and how she was now waiting for the financial backer of her boutique to propose to her. She genuinely had strong feelings for this game. I was given a copy, and voila! am now in the same boat. I've put in about 8 hours over the last 2 days... and counting. It's not incredibly hard, but the more you play, the more you unlock. It has massive depth that makes every hour you play non-repetitive and very competitive.

I just love it when you think you have a game nailed - and it throws you a curve ball. I honestly did not think this was a game for me considering I prefer console games over hand-held, and I like fantasy RPG's with dragons and magic... but this game has got me. Hook, line and, well, boutique!

The other game taking up all of my time is a game you would NOT expect me to be saying. It's not on Xbox or Nintendo. It's not by developers Activision or EA. It's a game you can find on Facebook. (WHAT?!?!?) Yes, Facebook. I got red in the face for all the poor souls that got hooked on Farmville or the likes. Wall posts like "Alex has found a lost turtle at his farm!" and "John has baked cupcakes from a new recipe!" would flood my status updates. What.The.Hell. I couldn't think of a worse way to waste your time. And this is coming from a professional time killer. So imagine my surprise when I see a post on someones wall reading -

Dom is conquering the world of Castle Age and has reached level 12!
They are leading an army of Knights, Elves, Wizards, and Dragons to battle the hordes of evil.

Well. Kick me stupid. This is exactly my cuppa tea!! Adventure! Castles! ELVES! I'm in! where do I sign up? Again, this has only been going on for the last few days. But my goodness me - it is sooo good. (it has averaged a 4.4/5 based on over 4500 ratings). I am a high priestess named Celesta (not what I'd usually play, I'm a sucker for the elven ranger) but didn't see another option given to me. You never see the battles take place, more of a 'click on this button to do this quest'. You click the button, the quest is complete. Sounds boring as batshit, but trust me, they have given this game some good thought. You have a set number of stamina, health and energy points at which a certain number are used depending on what you do. Time is the main way to replenish these points. There is always something that you can do, whether it's the main quest, side quests, battling other facebook players from around the world (and stealing their gold) - all to level up and become more powerful. The hard part is you need a lot of people in your army - so friends that you have on facebook that also play. It's very awkward for me to announce to my friends of models, designers and the like, that I would REALLY appreciate their help if they signed up with me to help defeat the Chronic Hydra that is causing me incredible grief.
So far I'm not going too badly! And if anyone on facebook (there are nearly 3 million signed up to Castle Age so far) would like to give it a go, feel free to join my army!