Game, Video Games

Game Review: Empire TV Tycoon

ETT 01

Game: Empire TV Tycoon
Developer: Dreamsite Games
Publisher: Dreamsite Games
Release Date: October 20, 2015
For: Windows, Mac, Linux, SteamOS
Genre: Management, Simulation, Strategy
Rating: 3 Achievements

Description (from Steam):

Empire TV Tycoon is a game in which you manage a TV channel and fight for audiences taking decisions that will project your channel to fame and fortune.You will decide the content of your channel, select advertisers, hire workers, make your own productions, hire actors, and engage in much more.

Review:

I’ve had this game on my wishlist for a long while and was recently gifted it for my birthday. It seems right up my alley. I enjoyed it but I also had a few issues with it.

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My biggest issue is the tutorial. It long and wordy. It made it really difficult to want to play the game because you have to read several boxes with hunks of text in a bad font. The font is nice when used for small things but paragraphs telling you how the game works is not easy to read.

Aside from the font and wall of text you get in the tutorial,  the game introduces too many things at once. I’d like to be eased a little more slowly into all the various mechanics. It’s one thing after another and I found myself forgetting key mechanics because the tutorial just hits you with one thing after another. It sets a bad pace for the overall game as well since once you get passed the tutorial it’s rather monotonous since new mechanics aren’t introduced. After the tutorial it’s just another 28 days of making movies/shows and setting a schedule for your channel.

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It is a fun little management game, a favorite genre of mine, and I enjoyed some of the puns and references to movies. There’s a character that looks like Dr Emmett Brown and some of the movies are named after real movies. It’s cute but I’m worried it might get the game taken down for copy right infringement.

I do enjoy the art style. It’s sort of classic pixel art with a twist and it’s a nice aesethic for the game. I also like how it adopts a more cartoonish style when you look at the audience watching your channel at that moment (bottom right of the picture below).ETT 05

Overall, the game isn’t bad but it isn’t great either. I could take it or leave it. I’ll end up playing it when I’m in the mood for that kind of game but I don’t think I can get too much fun from it in the long run.

 

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science fiction, scifi, young adult

Novella Review: Fairest by Marissa Meyer

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Title: Fairest
Author: Marissa Meyer
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Length: 272 Pages, Hardback
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Novella
Rating: 3 Folded Pages

Blurb:
Mirror, mirror, on the wall.
Who is the Fairest of them all?

Pure evil has a name, hides behind a mask of deceit, and uses her “glamour” to gain power. But who is Queen Levana? Long before she crossed paths with Cinder, Scarlet, and Cress in The Lunar Chronicles, Levana lived a very different story―a story that has never been told . . . until now.

Review:
I’m sad that I didn’t enjoy this more. Maybe it’s because I read it after I read Winter or maybe it’s because it followed Illuminae. Either way, this novella was kind of eh for me. It wasn’t great but it wasn’t awful.

I definitely enjoyed being able to see why Levana was the way she was. However, I don’t think it evoked the feelings in me that Meyer intended. I didn’t feel sorry for Levana. In fact, this made me dislike Levana even more.

Warning: Spoilers are ahead.

This novella clearly shows that Levana was not mentally stable. All of her problems were non-existent or self created. I think her mental instability might stem from Channary using the lunar gift on Levana when she was young alongside the trauma she faced as a child. Either way, I didn’t really feel for Levana the way I wanted to. I wanted to understand her and feel bad for her but I just couldn’t.

Spoilers over

Overall, this novella was nice for fleshing out Levana and adding to the world building of the Lunar chronicles but I could have lived without it.

Biography, nonfiction

Book Review: The Amazing Book is Not on Fire by Dan Howell and Phil Lester

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Title: The Amazing Book is Not on Fire
Author: Dan Howell and Phil Lester
Publisher: Ebury Press
Length: 224 pages, Hardback
Genre: Non-fiction, Humor, Autobiography
Rating: 3 Folded Pages

Blurb:
Hello reader,

In this book is a world. A world created by two awkward guys who share their lives on the internet!

We are Dan and Phil and we invite you on a journey inside our minds! From the stories of our actual births, to exploring Phil’s teenage diary and all the reasons why Dan’s a fail.

Learn how to draw the perfect cat whiskers, get advice on what to do in an awkward situation and discover which of our dining chairs represents you emotionally. With everything from what we text each other, to the time we met One Direction and what really happened in Vegas…

Review:
As usual I am bearing my soul for this blog. I’ll just come out and say it, I am a Youtube Junkie. Seriously. I’m so glad Youtube got rid of the thing on the original profiles that told people how many youtube videos a person has watched because mine would be embarassingly high. That being said, a lot of Youtubers are coming out with books (I reviewed Zoella’s young adult novel here) and I couldn’t resist picking this one up when I saw considering how much I love Danisnotonfire and AmazingPhil. They are so funny and relatable. Their youtube videos almost always pull me out of a bad mood.

My love for them is why it pains me to say what I’m about to say. It wasn’t that great.

Hear me out. I did really enjoy reading this. It was like their Youtube videos in book format and why wouldn’t a certified Youtube addict and bibliophile love a mash up of her two favorite things. However, this book was a little bit too much of their Youtube content.

I feel like several pieces of the book were just their videos converted to text format and given cute typography and graphic design. It definitely doesn’t help that to advertise said book they made Youtube videos of the pages that weren’t already Youtube videos.

Before reading this, I had hoped to learn more about them as people. Granted there was some of that, there wasn’t nearly as much as I wanted. If I wasn’t already a fan of them, I wouldn’t have read past the first 20 pages.

My conclusion, in all honesty, is that only people who already like them should get the book and I’d suggest not trying to read it cover to cover like I did.

Fantasy, paranormal, romance

Series Review: Southern Witch Series by Kimberly Frost

southern witch series

Title: Would Be Witch, Barely Bewitched, and Halfway Hexed
Author: Kimberly Frost
Publisher: Berkley
Length: 308 Pages, 322 Pages, 339 Pages, Ebook
Genre: Fantasy, Romance, Paranormal
Rating: 4 Folded Pages, 3 Folded Pages, DNF’d

Would Be Witch Blurb:
In the small town of Duvall, Texas, the only thing that causes more trouble than gossip is magic.

The family magic seems to have skipped over Tammy Jo Trask. All she gets in the way of the supernatural are a few untimely visits from the long-dead, smart-mouthed family ghost Edie. But when her locket—an heirloom that happens to hold Edie’s soul—is stolen in the midst of a town-wide crime spree, it’s time for Tammy to find her inner witch.

After a few bad experiences with her magic, Tammy turns to the only one who can help: the very rich and highly magical Bryn Lyons. He might have all the answers, but the locket isn’t the only thing passed down in Tammy’s family. She also inherited a warning…to stay away from anyone named Lyons…

Review:
I picked these books up on the ebook system my library offers. I was craving a romance heavy fantasy and these books looked perfect. There’s five books in the series so far and I fully read the first two but I couldn’t get through the third unfortunately.

Tammy Jo has endearing moments especially in the first book. I liked her character. She was flawed and fun and a little bit stupid but I could handle it. The second book her character ebbed more on the stupid and in the third book I couldn’t handle it as it just got worse and put the book down forever.

I’m not sure how but as she learned more about her powers she lost intellect. Maybe this has a plot point somewhere, but for me, I can only take so many stupid actions by characters before I get completely fed up and put the book down.

I’m sad because I really loved the first book. It was fast paced and funny. Even with the not so great love interests (one a controlling asshole and the other a manipulative asshole) I enjoyed the storyline and even the over the top tropes of the guys in her love triangle.

Speaking of the love triangle, by the end of book 2 it was very obvious which of the assholes was better. She had more chemistry and dependence on the less assholely of the two and yet she still wavers between them and was still doing so in the beginning of the third book. One of the guys wasn’t even in the picture at that time because he left on some soul searching journey or something.
I’m angry that these books got progressively worse because the first one was SO good. I really liked it and I wish Tammy Jo had progressed forward instead of backward. That would have saved this series from ending up on my “never finish” list. There’s 5 books in the series so far and I’m not sure if she plans to write more but I know I’m never going further than this with the series.

classic, romance

Audiobook Review: Mansfield Park by Jane Austen

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Title: Mansfield Park
Author: Jane Austen
Narrator: Karen Savage
Publisher: Librivox
Length: 14 hours-ish
Genre: Romance, Classic,
Rating: 3 Folded Pages

Blurb:
Taken from the poverty of her parents’ home in Portsmouth, Fanny Price is brought up with her rich cousins at Mansfield Park, acutely aware of her humble rank and with her cousin Edmund as her sole ally. During her uncle’s absence in Antigua, the Crawford’s arrive in the neighbourhood bringing with them the glamour of London life and a reckless taste for flirtation. Mansfield Park is considered Jane Austen’s first mature work and, with its quiet heroine and subtle examination of social position and moral integrity, one of her most profound.

For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,700 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.

Review:
I think of all the Jane Austen novels I’ve read/listened to, this one is the most boring. If I’m being for real. There was a lot of nothing happening a lot. But once things picked up I found myself enjoying it.

Fanny Price does not have a personality and I think that’s kind of the point Jane Austen was trying to make. She was seen by Henry Crawford as the perfect wife because she was agreeable and quiet and unable to speak out even when she was wronged. I like the point Austen was trying to make even if I think she took a little too long to make it.

Edmund Bertram also didn’t have a personality but in a different way. I’m not quite sure how to explain it but nothing particular stands out about him aside from him being nice to Fanny and wanting to be a clergymen.

I zoned out a lot listening to this novel and couldn’t be bothered to backtrack when I realized I did this. I enjoyed it but I definitely don’t think it should have taken over 14 hours to listen.

I listened to the Librivox free recording of the novel on Youtube. Karen Savage was a great narrator and I really enjoyed how she read it. I was worried because it’s a public space Audiobook that the quality would be sacrificed but it definitely wasn’t.

nonfiction

Book Review: A Really Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson

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Title: A Really Short History of Nearly Everything
Author: Bill Bryson
Publisher: Doubleday Canada
Length:176, Hardback
Genre: Nonfiction
Rating: 3 Folded Pages

Blurb:
Bill Bryson’s own fascination with science began with a battered old school book he had when he was about ten or eleven years old. It had an illustration that captivated him–a diagram showing Earth’s interior as it would look if you cut into it with a large knife and removed about a quarter of its bulk. The idea of lots of startled cars and people falling off the edge of that sudden cliff (and 4,000 miles is a pretty long way to fall) was what grabbed him in the beginning, but gradually his attention turned to what the picture was trying to teach him: namely that Earth’s interior is made up of several different layers of materials, and at the very centre is a glowing sphere of iron and nickel,
as hot as the Sun’s surface, according to the caption. And he very clearly remembers thinking: “How do they know that?”

Bill’s storytelling skill makes the “How?” and, just as importantly, the “Who?” of scientific discovery entertaining and accessible for all ages. He covers the wonder and mystery of time and space, the frequently bizarre and often obsessive scientists and the methods they used, and the mind-boggling fact that, somehow, the universe exists and against all odds, life came to be on this wondrous planet we call home.

Review:
This book took me SO long to finish. Honestly, I started it the last week or so of July and finished it the last week of September. Nonfiction has always been hard for me and is generally a genre I stay away from. This book was nice but definitely not my favorite.

I loved the way it was written. Bryson’s writing is witty and entertaining but he still packs tons of information into relatively small paragraphs. The book was also not what I expected. I thought it would be more about historical events and less about science. But the majority of the book was a history of science and how it’s advanced.

The illustrations in the book were gorgeous though and I found most of the time when I was getting annoyed with the info dump I was receiving the images on the page could help to make up for it.

Still I’m glad I read the book and it gave me some interesting facts to dish out in conversations so I can’t say it was time wasted. I just wish it didn’t take me so long to push through.

contemporary, romance, young adult

Book Review: Girl Online by Zoe Sugg

Title: Girl Online
Author: Zoe Sugg (Zoellaaaaaa)
Publisher: Atria/Keyword Press
Length: 352, Hardback
Genre: Contemporary, Young Adult, Romance
Rating: 3 Folded Pages

Blurb:
I have this dream that, secretly, all teenage girls feel exactly like me. And maybe one day, when we realize that we all feel the same, we can all stop pretending we’re something we’re not. That would be awesome. But until that day, I’m going to keep it real on this blog and keep it unreal in “real” life.

Penny has a secret.

Under the alias GirlOnline, Penny blogs her hidden feelings about friendship, boys, high school drama, her quirky family, and the panic attacks that have begun to take over her life. When things go from bad to worse at school, her parents accept an opportunity to whisk the family away for Christmas at the Waldorf Astoria in New York City. There, she meets Noah, a gorgeous, guitar-strumming American. Suddenly Penny is falling in love—and capturing every moment she spends with “Brooklyn Boy” on her blog.

But Noah has a secret, too, one that threatens to ruin Penny’s cover—and her closest friendship—forever.

Review:
This book was cute. When I saw Zoella from Youtube had written a book I knew I had to have it. I’m not sure what I was expecting but I was slightly disappointed. I think I’ve reached an age where YA contemporaries are going to be a bit difficult for me.

My biggest issue with this book was how immature Penny seemed to be. She read like she was 12 instead of 16. Maybe it’s just my perspective at the ripe age of 22, but I feel like she should have been a little more mature than she was in the book.

My other issue is that her love interest is 18. I’m not sure if this isn’t a big deal in England but here it’s not really allowed and it made me kind of uncomfortable. The saving grace is that Noah didn’t really read like an 18 year old but a 15 year old.

The overall story was cute and for the most part the pacing was good. There were a few slow points that were a little hard to slog through but for the most part I enjoyed reading the novel.

For me this novel was cute but a bit problematic. I bought it because I love Zoella’s videos and it’s a way I can support her aside from watching said videos. The other thing is that the novel was actually ghost written by Siobhan Curham. Which is fine. I understand the need of ghostwriting and whatnot, but it makes the novel read disjointedly. I’m not sure I’ll be picking up the second in the series anytime soon.

new adult, romance

Book Review: After Math by Denise Grover Swank

Title: After Math
Author: Denise Grover Swank
Publisher: Amazon Digital Services
Length: 251, Kindle Book
Genre: New Adult, Romance
Rating: 3 Folded Pages

Warning: This book has mature scenes not suitable for those under 18. Ye hath been warned.

Blurb:
Scarlett Goodwin’s world is divided into Before and After.

Before she agreed to tutor Tucker Price, college junior Scarlett was introvert, struggling with her social anxiety disorder and determined to not end up living in a trailer park like her mother and her younger sister. A mathematics major, she goes to her classes, to her job in the tutoring lab, and then hides in the apartment she shares with her friend, Caroline.

After junior Tucker Price, Southern University’s star soccer player enters the equation, her carefully plotted life is thrown off its axis. Tucker’s failing his required College Algebra class. With his eligibility is at risk, the university chancellor dangles an expensive piece of computer software for the math department if Scarlett agrees to privately tutor him. Tucker’s bad boy, womanizer reputation makes Scarlett wary of any contact, let alone spending several hours a week in close proximity.

But from her first encounter, she realizes Tucker isn’t the person everyone else sees. He carries a mountain of secrets which she suspects hold the reason to his self-destructive behavior. But the deeper she delves into the cause of his pain, the deeper she gets sucked into his chaos. Will Scarlett find the happiness she’s looking for, or will she be caught in Tucker’s aftermath?

Review:
As has been the norm recently with New Adult/Romance novels, I liked the first half of this novel but not so much the second half.

I loved how Swank depicts and deals with Scarlett’s anxiety. Mental illness is a difficult subject matter and should be dealt with more in novels. Grover does a great job of showing how Scarlett deals with anxiety, how it affects her and her life and how she overcomes it to hold a normal life.

I also thought the plot was interesting. Math tutor is forced to tutor the university star and partier and finds out there might be more to him than what he presents to people. This remained interesting until about halfway through when instead it became redundant and the two characters kind of melded together to where I couldn’t find two separate personalities.

As for why I didn’t like the second half of the book, although Swank handles anxiety well in the first half she doesn’t at all in the second. Scarlett’s anxiety is magically cured by Tucker in the second half. I don’t agree with the message that having a boyfriend or significant other can magically cure mental illness. I also don’t like the message that she needed a man in her life to make it complete. Still, despite the book’s downfalls, it was an enjoyable read. I just wish the messages sent out were a little different.

ARC, romance

ARC Review: Arrhythmia by Johanna Danninger Translated by Christiane Galvani

Title: Arrhythmia
Author: Johanna Danniger
Translator: Christiane Galvani
Publisher: Amazon Crossing
Length: 374, Kindle Book
Genre: Romance
Rating: 3 Folded Pages

Note: I received a free ARC of this book from NetGalley in return for an honest review.
Warning: Attempted rape scene.

Blurb:
If Nurse Lena has learned one thing from her past, it’s that handsome, charismatic men are just no good.

So when she meets the exceedingly attractive resident Dr. Desiderio DiCastello—who, it seems, is willing to use every trick in the book to seduce her—Lena assumes he’s no different from the rest. But despite her efforts to stay away from him, with so few places to hide in the halls of the hospital, the two can’t help but cross paths. And to Lena’s chagrin, it turns out that she’s not completely immune to his charms. It doesn’t take long before his persistence starts to have a serious effect on her, and soon Lena is questioning herself: Is Desiderio just trying to get her out of her scrubs, or is he for real? And can she trust her fluttering heart?

Review:
I am a sucker for romances where a guy persistently pursues the girl despite her saying no. I know how unfeminist that sounds but as long as the main female doesn’t find it creepy I tend not to either and Arrhythmia delivers on the relentless and heartfelt pursuit.

I absolutely loved the first 150 pages or so. The banter between Desiderio and Lena was hilarious and had me grinning like a fool half the time. I enjoyed Lena trying her hardest to make herself as unlikable to Desiderio as possible and him being able to turn the tables on her. It was enjoyable and they make a good pair.

As much as I enjoyed them together, I tended to get annoyed with Lena when she wasn’t with Desiderio. She was extremely immature and at times almost too annoying to deal with. I also didn’t enjoy how her personality seemed to completely change as soon as she decided to admit that she fell for him. I wanted more of her strong, fierce personality but what I got was whiny, I can’t live without him personality.

I did really appreciate this book and the translation was really well done. I think the original was in German. I also thought that certain aspects of the book were really well handled for such sensitive topics. I just wish Lena didn’t read like she was 15 when she’s supposed to be somewhere in the 20s.

classic, science fiction, scifi

Book Review: 1984 by George Orwell

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Title: 1984
Author: George Orwell
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Length: 668, Kindle book
Genre: Classic, Science Fiction
Rating: 3 Folded pages

Blurb:
In 1984, London is a grim city where Big Brother is always watching you and the Thought Police can practically read your mind. Winston is a man in grave danger for the simple reason that his memory still functions. Drawn into a forbidden love affair, Winston finds the courage to join a secret revolutionary organization called The Brotherhood, dedicated to the destruction of the Party. Together with his beloved Julia, he hazards his life in a deadly match against the powers that be.

Review:
I finally finished it! Albeit, with a lot more skimming/skipping than I should have but honestly who can legitimately get through that long treatise from The Book? Because I certainly couldn’t. I would have quit the book entirely if I didn’t skip through it.

That being said I did enjoy the last part. The action finally kicked up and it wasn’t endless exposition. The book itself poses so many ideas to think about and I see why this is a classic but I still disliked the first two parts immensely. I was bored and I kept having to force myself through but it is no secret that I am not a big fan of classics. I want to read for fun and forcing myself through long winded and boring exposition is definitely not my idea of fun.

I do feel like I learned something from reading it though and I’m glad I did. I’m just also glad I’m done reading it. There isn’t much I can say considering it’s a classic. I’m glad it’s over and at least it’s given a few things to think about in the meantime.