Thursday, February 21, 2019

Mini Reviews 2

Hello, Dragonflies! 

Since the last time I've written a series of mini book reviews, I've found myself shuffling around with how I blog and enjoying this new format much more! Between the 'Why the Hype' posts and writing mini reviews after more or less a month of reading, I've been having fun compiling ideas together! I feel like it reflects me and the way I think a lot more accurately! 

Now, I had a reading slump that lasted almost a month! So I can't say that I've read loads since my last set of reviews, but I have finished two books in the last two days so I guess that means I'm cured! 

So without further ado here's a few mini-reviews for you! 

I'll make my own banner soon! Again not my image! 

1. Trials of Apollo book 1 - The Hidden Oracle, by Rick Riordan
Oh dear this was back before the new year! I am a big Rick Riordan fan, Percy Jackson will always be my favourite book series (or at least it will always have a special place in my heart!). It was so nice to see Percy again, and Apollo as a human is both hilarious and incredibly relatable. I liked the plot and am curious to see where it is going. Of course it was really nice to see some old characters interacting with new campers in coordination with Chiron's constant teaching hand. 

I ended up giving this a 4.5/5 feathers! 

2. Shades of Grey, by Jasper Fforde
I picked up this book when a good friend of mine asked me if I had read it yet maybe 32 million times! He let me borrow it, claiming it was his favorite, so I was excited about reading it! 
That's when the reading slump hit... 
However I finally picked it up a few days ago. Most of the book is world-building but the plot really picks up in the last 100 pages to be really incredible! 
Shades of Grey is a dystopian in which humans have evolved to only see one color, with certain percentage of sight. The world is incredibly well thought-out and explained, and the characters themselves are quite interesting. The last bit of the book introduces a plot that will be explored in future books and I must say that I could not put the book down in that section! As said, the whole book was well balanced, well thought and well-given. 

I gave it a 4/5 feathers, knocked one off simply because I had a hard time getting into it at first :) 

3. A Monster Calls, by Patrick Ness
I flat-out read this in less than 24 hours. This book is difficult to describe in a review setting simply because it's just over 200 pages long and the main plot points are somewhat spoilers. In general, this hyped book is about a kid who's mom has cancer. He gets these dream-like things that happens to him in which a monster of sorts visits him and tells him fairytale-like stories. I really, really loved this book and have already recommended it to many people. Patrick Ness has such a unique, beautiful and poignant writing style, that is both smooth and clear as glass. The story itself was both sad and hauntingly beautiful in its style and plot. The characters could have been anyone at all, which is a great quality in books with such serious topics. It makes them relatable. 

I gave it a 4.5/5 feathers - it was very close to a 5! 

That's it for today! But as I said I've been out of my reading slump so I'll have a lot more reviews coming up! 

Stay bookish! 

Monday, February 18, 2019

Outlander TV Series - Why the Hype?

Hello, dragonflies! 

I'm quite liking the process of discovering hyped things and writing "Why the Hype?" articles - I'm thinking that I can call my hyped book reviews that as well! Make it a little series of sorts! 

SO A few months ago I was really bored with what was on Netflix - I wanted a good series. Having watched basically all of Sasha Alsberg's rave videos on Youtube about a certain series, I got curious and started it. 

I started watching Outlander... 

And finished watching it in about a month. Seasons 1-4 inclusive. Considering that each episode is near an hour long. 

I have no life now do I? 

Going through the internet (and following fan pages) about the series, I noticed that it's reputation is mostly based on the romance aspect. And sure it's a part of it. But there's so, so much more, and I hope that no one decides not to watch the series 'because it's romance'. 

So in today's post I'm going to just talk about Outlander, and try to give a few points explaining why the series is so hyped. 

Sing me a song, of a lass that is gone, say, could that lass be I? 

For those of you who don't know, Outlander is the story of Claire Randall, a nurse coming home after World War 2, who goes on a second honeymoon with her husband Frank. On their trip to Scotland, she somehow goes through time, to 1760's highlander Scotland, a few years before a deadly battle at Culloden. She gets taken in by MacKenzie clan where she meets James Fraser, who she marries for safety reasons. This is about their journey through time and space, visiting different countries in a surprisingly active moment of world history. 

Let's start with what the media seems to highlight: the romance

Now I'm not someone who particularly likes intimate scenes in tv. I've skipped some way explicit parts. But sometimes, just the chemistry between the two main characters Claire and Jamie (Jamie omg) was just so incredible! You can feel the love between them, if it only be from a glance they share, the sacrifices they make, or their comfort around each other. There's some lines in the show that absolutely made me feel things in the same way that a good quote in a book does, for example words shared between Tessa Will and Jem. "I've become jealous of the rain itself" is a line that Jamie says to Claire at one point in season 4, for instance, when they're been apart for a long time. - My heart did a thing at that point, hahah! Their togetherness is something that transcends everything and I can only hope to find a Jamie someday. Ugh the feels <3 

Oof my heart

Next bit: The history

This show has taught me so much! It may not be 100% historically accurate, but the show does an incredible job of raising awareness of this time period. I loved learning about the Highlander lifestyle, there was something so mystical about it that just makes me want to visit Scotland asap. The times in France were fascinating. In seasons 3 and 4 things turn to the Caribbean and the United States: for me it was a slightly less bunch of episodes, but it still did an incredible job of raising awareness of the American slave trade and origins of racism, including why it was such a tricky problem to solve, as well as the whole settlers way of life and discovery of the country. 

I personally really loved the presence of the Native Americans. In my opinion, the show really showed a good story behind them: they were neither glorified or degraded with was really nice to see, as there is a really big problem in the states nowadays with the few Natives there are left: many are being so marginalised it hurts to read about. 

And now: the brute honesty

This show is full of trigger warnings: murder, rape, torture, heartbreak, beatings, racism, as well as some smaller trigger warnings for the squeamish people: broken bones, blood, surgeries, sex, etc. 

This show shows (no pun intended) the way the world was in the 1700s, and, in many ways, still is. It didn't sugar coat things, especially in the first season. The very end of season one was probably the darkest, most unsettling thing I've ever watched. I was heartbroken and sickened and was trembling for a good 2 hours afterwards. (Screw you Black Jack). 

Usually this stuff really turns me away from a book or show. It's one of the reasons The Perks of Being a Wallflower really didn't appeal to me. However, this is very well balanced with the incredibly happy times, funny moments and heart warmth. 

I guess I enjoyed the honesty because so many modern shows tend to sugarcoat 'bad things' in life. We can all pretty much understand that in the 1700s, women had less power, racism was more exploited, and slaves were 'normal'. Sure. But this show did good in not being afraid of showing the darker sides of these truths, but in smaller, manageable examples. These were usually surrounded by good events. It was also genius-ly balanced by Claire's reactions. As a modern woman she mirrored our surprise seeing the extent of racism, for example, or the horror of abuse. She served as a really good mirror for my thoughts through the show, which made the bad things more manageable. 

Now for some random spoiler-free notes

- Jamie is adorable (and beautiful omg). He has the funniest reactions to things and puts his heart and soul into all of his reactions. He's fiery and fierce and just an incredible character. 
- Claire is incredible - strong-minded and very smart and passionate. She's a model for confidence, 100%. 
- In general, all of the side characters are inspiring in some way or another. Murtaugh's loyalty, Young Ian's wonder for the world, Jenny's persistence, Fergus's cunningness... they all have a quality and bring a true plus to the show. 
- The cinematography is so lovely - the scenery shots, as well as just the general way in which it was filmed was something I truly appreciated. 
- It was addictive. Between the crazy plot advancement (Cus yes the plot is also really interesting!) and just the yearn to see more of the 1700s and of character quirks, I binged this several evenings. 
- Incredible battle scenes. 

Now I'm going to do random notes as spoilers! I'm going to try to be relatively chronological. 

- The Scottish accent got to my mind. I was thinking in the accent for the entire time I was watching the show, especially in seasons 1 and 2! 
- I had a little bit of a hard time getting on board with it all especially in the WW2 setting. Not too sure why. 
- I now understand why people keep talking about the wedding episode. That was something! 
- The witch trail was so tense I could not stop watching. Geilis was a cool character and this episode was absolutely fascinating. Can't ever forgive Laoghaire though. 
- I love everything about the Lallybroch episodes - Jenny is incredible and it gave such a good setting!
- The Wentworth Prison episode made me feel sick. Just the first five minutes made me pale. Randall is vile in every sense of the word - the hand nailing was so bad, but I think the absolute worst was the separation of Claire and Jamie while he was being tortured the acting by all three actors was absolutely phenomenal in these moments. 
- The first episode of season 2 killed me - why was she back in England and pregnant?! I died. 
- The whole moment in Paris was super cool - the charity hospital, meeting Fergus, the dealings with royalty... it was all done super well... and then Randall returned. 
- The 'Faith' episode broke my heart. 
- Jamie seems to love prisons. 
- I was so happy once they were back in Scotland! 
- The whole build up and event of the Culloden battle was so cool. You could really see the emotions of every character. 
- But the separation between Jamie and Claire made me cry
My live reaction

-Brianna is annoying but Roger is cool 
- the whole 'Let's find Jamie' semi-montage was fun 
- the reunion was so awkward but kinda precious
- I still hate Laoghaire
- It broke my heart when Claire realised that the skeleton she saw in the 1980s was Geilis whom she had killed. 
- I had less emotions for season 4 even though I binged it in 4 days! Like I said loved the Native American side, and the honesty of the white supremacy. Otherwise it wasn't as 'wonderful' as the first two seasons. 
- Some lines did make me swoon though oh dear. 

That's it! Oof it's a long post! 

Stay bookish! 

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Legend of Zelda; Ocarina of Time - Why the Hype?

Hello, Dragonflies! 

Ey a new post that's not a book review! Caro, where's the books? 

Well, to be honest, I've been in a reading slump the past couple of weeks, reading is hard right now! But, I've been able to finish a lot of stories lately! So during the next few days I have a few posts prepared about all of these non-book pieces of fiction I have a lot to say about! 

As you can probably tell by the title, today I'm not going to be talking about books but about one of my favourite video games of all time - Legend of Zelda, Ocarina of Time. 

If you've watched any gaming channel on Youtube (or were born before, let's say, 2003), you will have heard of this game. Gamers like PeanutButterGamer and TheGameTheorists have gone through this game, in and out, and there are tons of videos about it. It was noted for being one of the most revolutionary 3D games in its time, and found immediate success. 

Now I'm not a noob when it comes to Zelda. I've played OoT when I was little and watched my mom play as well. Some years later, we dug our Nintendo 64 out of the cellar and found that it still worked, so I played it there. Several times. I recently got my first DS and, naturally, bought this game with it. 

I devoured it in less than a month. 

Now I've been thinking about what makes this game in particular so incredibly hyped. I've come up with a few reasons... 

  • The lore (story) in this game series is certainly crazy with it's complicated timeline, but the lore presented in this game specifically is actually really profound. The world is powered by the Triforce: 3 goddesses that brought the Earth, Life and Law into existence. They also represent Power, Wisdom and Courage. In broad terms, chaos reigns once the Triforce is broken into its three parts. If you think of it as the environment, society and let's say government, it makes a lot of sense. A common theme in policy making (based on the one course I took haha) is the notion of the 3 Pillars: the three concepts need to be in balance for there to be a notion of peace or stability. 
    • The rest of the lore is also awesome: the races, the story, the way of life... it's worth playing just to read the cutscenes to get the story! 
  • The game itself has a nice hybrid of open-world and linear gameplay: you can do the temples in any order you want, technically. You can leave a temple if you want, or can go back to those you've finished. However, there is a general direction the game pushes you to follow based on it's hint. 
    • What I don't like so much about the newest game, Breath of the Wild is that it's so open-world that you honestly have no idea what to do next. Are the side-quests important? What about the items? 
  • Time-travel. There's really no need to explain this one, it's a concept loved by so many people!
  • This is an awesome mix of logic, puzzles, lore and battle. It has a balance in which not one feature overtakes the other!

Aside froths little English class-like analysis, there are some things I personally love about the game. I'm going to be sharing details below that may or may not contain some minor spoilers! It'll mainly be chronological so if you're currently playing just stop whenever :)

Not my image but this fan art is life

  • The quality of the Deku Tree as an introductory dungeon should be matched in every adventure game. 
  • I love the mechanic of having side-quests 'mandatory'. Wanna move forward? Better collect that chicken and wake up Manon's dad with it! 
  • Impa is cool. 
  • I'm not a big fan of the Gorons but I must say that their dungeon is super cool! 
  • Now the Zora are classy and elegant...
  • But there's nothing in the game that I hate more than the dungeon that is Inside JabbuJabbu. Carrying Princess Ruto is a pain, and I just found the whole dungeon to be kind of uncomfortable. The mini boss is annoying, BUT the main boss is awesome. 
  • Becoming Adult Link is one of the most epic moments of the game. 

  • Getting to the Forest temple took me way, way too long, haha! 
  • The Forest temple in probably one of my top 2 temples. I love the poe sister's hide-and-seek, and the music, and the atmosphere, and the boss fight is downright awesome. The twisting hallway mechanic was a stroke of genius!
  • The Fire Temple in the volcano is less my style: so many surprise traps and so much fire (wow Caro very smart good job). The dragon boss Volvagia is fun though! 
  • Aah the Water Temple. The most infamous temple in Zelda history. The one that many players swear against... I love it. I actually really enjoyed puzzling it out to determine the differences of playing a level either in the water or on dry land. There are some very interesting rooms like the vortex room and the waterfall, and the final boss is actually quite challenging! 
  • Also the Water Temple has DARK LINK which aaah I can fangirl about ok? He's such a difficult opponent, since he's your shadow. He mirrors your movements, yet somehow has the opportunity to taunt you by standing on your sword. The battle happens in a room that should be as dark as the others, but instead is an illusion of what seems like a shallow salt lake with a single dead tree in the middle - there is no horizon or walls, only a door some distance away. Dark Link soon appears to give us the most epic fight in video game history. I love love love it. The whole fighting against your darker self idea, AAA I just adore it! 

  • The whole build-up to the Shadow temple is when the game starts to get a sense of urgency. You need to go back in forth through time, to obtain the Lens of Truth, without which, well, most things are invisible. Both the mini-dungeon and the Shadow Temple itself have a torture chamber theme, with a very creepy vibe, talking about death and the afterlife. 
  • The Shadow Temple is an interesting play but is not my favourite: like the Fire Temple, the constant traps can be exhausting. 
  • Making your way through Gerudo Vally is super fun! I actually enjoy the slight frustration of being seen running around and being thrown back to the beginning of the area, it's kind of hilarious. Imagine it in real life... yeah it's great, haha! 
  • Don't try crossing the desert with low magic. It won't work. 
  • The Spirit Temple is, I think, my favourite  There is a clear mirror in the layout of the dungeon between child and adult Link: playing as both in such an intricate temple is fascinating. The music is incredible and the whole spirit, Egyptian vibe makes for an awesome experience. The boss is probably my favourite as well! 
  • I really like Ganon's Castle for one big reason: it makes you use nearly every single item you've collected in the game in odd combinations. Super cool. 
  • Everyone loves Dark Overlord Tennis! 
  • The end of the game packs and emotional punch! 

Well well this blog is becoming more of a fangirl page for random neediness than bookish! Maybe I should change the name to Chronicles of a Fangirl or something, haha! Nah I love my handle! 

That's it for my post-gameplay rambles, let me know if you've played this game or any other LoZ game, I'd love to hear your thoughts! 

Stay geeky,