Borderlands First Impressions Review

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Borderlands is a game series known for being absolutely hilarious. You are a person who has gone to a place called Pandora to hunt for a mysterious “Vault” full of unknown treasures. The first thing you meet is a little robot named Claptrap, who helps you start off your adventures in Fyrestone. Then, a strange lady starts to speak to you, saying that she will help you find the Vault. It is up to you to meet the people of Pandora, and start your adventures on the planet of Pandora.

I have played this game for almost ten hours at this point, and I would say that I am around a quarter or so of the way through. Maybe a bit more, but it tends to take me a bit longer than average to finish games. I am enjoying it, even though I usually don’t play FPS games. The gameplay is fairly simple, and even as a person not skilled at FPS games I was able to pick it up and go pretty easily. This game has actually made me better at other FPS games, just by being able to practice in such a relaxed environment.

The world of Pandora, aka the Borderlands, is chock full of unique characters. I guess you could say that a lot of the characters you meet would be the “villains” of other games, but in this game they are the main NPCs. One of the first people you meet is Dr. Zed. He is honestly one of my favorite characters, next to T.K. Baha, but he is a doctor who has some…unconventional practices. He got his license taken away, and now he spends his time cutting up the corpses of those Vault Hunters who don’t manage to make it to the end of their trip. He has plenty of business, as no explorer has made it to the end yet. T.K. Baha is a weapons inventor who lives on his own and is missing a leg, and who lost his wife to the skag/wild dog Scar. There are many other characters, but these are the first two you meet, and are therefore not spoilers. But these two characters show you just how wild this game can get.

Overall, I have had a pretty positive first experience with this game. I am definitely planning on finishing this one.

Overall Rating: 5 out of 5 controllers.

Trevor Noah: Born A Crime Review

Born a Crime: Stories From a South African ChildhoodTrevor Noah’s unlikely path from apartheid South Africa to the desk of The Daily Show began with a criminal act: his birth. Trevor was born to a white Swiss father and a black Xhosa mother at a time when such a union was punishable by five years in prison. Living proof of his parents’ indiscretion, Trevor was kept mostly indoors for the earliest years of his life, bound by the extreme and often absurd measures his mother took to hide him from a government that could, at any moment, steal him away. Finally liberated by the end of South Africa’s tyrannical white rule, Trevor and his mother set forth on a grand adventure, living openly and freely and embracing the opportunities won by a centuries-long struggle.

Born a Crime is the story of a mischievous young boy who grows into a restless young man as he struggles to find himself in a world where he was never supposed to exist. It is also the story of that young man’s relationship with his fearless, rebellious, and fervently religious mother—his teammate, a woman determined to save her son from the cycle of poverty, violence, and abuse that would ultimately threaten her own life.

The eighteen personal essays collected here are by turns hilarious, dramatic, and deeply affecting. Whether subsisting on caterpillars for dinner during hard times, being thrown from a moving car during an attempted kidnapping, or just trying to survive the life-and-death pitfalls of dating in high school, Trevor illuminates his curious world with an incisive wit and unflinching honesty. His stories weave together to form a moving and searingly funny portrait of a boy making his way through a damaged world in a dangerous time, armed only with a keen sense of humor and a mother’s unconventional, unconditional love.

I love Trevor Noah, and I have watched a lot of his comedy videos on Youtube. When I received this book to read for my college orientation class, I was super excited! I knew that it was going to be a fun read, and I started reading as soon as possible. Now, a few months later, after doing a project to dig into some themes of the book, I think I am ready to discuss some of the ups and downs I had with this book.

Let me start by discussing my general thoughts on the stories. I won’t go in-depth as there are 18 short ones and I don’t want to spoil the book for anyone, but there were definitely some that were more fleshed out than others. Surprisingly, the stories about his childhood were actually told in a little more detail than the stories closer to his adulthood, when I thought that it was going to be the opposite. I enjoyed reading about the truth of his life, even though it didn’t really talk about how he truly came from South Africa to America and became successful.

When you watch his videos, he tells stories about his life in a funny way. When you read this book, it is definitely more serious. But the one thing that I didn’t like was the voice. I felt that it was someone writing the stories as if they were him, and not him actually telling the story to the reader. I know that he wrote the book, but I definitely feel that reading the audiobook would have been a better experience than reading this version of the book. It would have felt more genuine and from the heart than reading the essays about his life.

One last pet peeve that I had about this book was how it jumped around between different points in his life. I like stories that are told in chronological order. Some people might have enjoyed this type of storytelling, as it allowed for the important characters to show up when their story pieces were about to be discussed, but I would have preferred if the stories had been told in the years in which they happened. It would have definitely been less confusing for me.

Overall, I enjoyed this book. Even though I didn’t like the fact that it wasn’t in chronological order, and thought that the voice was a bit off sometimes in my head, I loved the stories. They told an important tale about what can happen when you try to tear people apart with fear. Trevor was able to rise up against that fear, and he is truly an inspiration.

I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a new contemporary nonfiction book.

Overall Rating: 4 out of 5 books

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The Battle is O’er Blog Tour Plus Review!


On Tour with Prism Book Tours

The Battle is O’er
(The Blue Bells Chronicles #5)
By Laura Vosika
Historical Time Travel, Fantasy
Paperback & ebook, 470 pages
March 23rd 2018 by Gabriel’s Horn Press

In the gripping conclusion to The Blue Bells Chronicles, just as Shawn is steadily regaining all he feared he had lost forever—his career, his son, and even Amy’s heart—he learns of MacDougall’s vengeance against Niall, for the act Shawn himself committed. He wrestles with a prophecy and an ancient letter that never changes, a letter that details the fate of his own son, if he cannot stop it—and possibly the fate of the world itself, as he learns of Simon Beaumont’s plan to use his knowledge of the future to destroy it.

Shawn’s selfishness once cost him everything. His newfound selflessness may do the same.

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My Review: 

Even though I am about 70% done with this novel, I am positive that this is a great end to an adventure-packed series. Every single character I have encountered was unique, and character development was also incredible. I read a summary of the other books in this series before starting this one, and Shawn started off being a completely different character than he is now. It is very interesting to read the last chapters of his story, and truly see how much he has grown in the last few books. I won’t spoil anything, as even I haven’t had the chance to read the end, but this one just gets better and better the more I read.

Also, this book constantly switches between the medieval times that the previous books focused on, and then the modern times that Shawn has returned to. This was a little confusing at the beginning as I was still getting used to all the characters and comparing them to the synopses. By the time I got to the middle of the book, I was used to the switches, and the rest of the story flowed smoothly.

The world has been built in the previous four books of this series, but it is still expanded upon now. Especially since Shawn is back in the modern world, he has to remember things from his past life that he hasn’t done for two years. This makes for a very creative storyline.

Even though this was a bit of a comedic fantasy, I didn’t find myself thinking that the storyline was silly or pointless. Rather than this, I enjoyed every bit of plot that I read and could take the storyline seriously.

I would recommend this to lovers of fantasy novels, and now-complete series with complex storylines, characters, and worldbuilding.

 

Other Books in the Series

About the Author

Laura Vosika is the author of the beloved series, The Blue Bells Chronicles, a tale of time travel, action and adventure, romance and redemption, ranging across modern and medieval Scotland. She runs Gabriel’s Horn Press, and is active in poetry as a member of the League of Minnesota Poets, routinely performing at local open mics. She has appeared in The Star Tribune, and on WCCO and Channel 12, and hosted Books and Brews with Laura Vosika on AM 950.

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Tour Schedule

June 11th:
Launch
Bri’s Book Nook
June 12th:
Among the Reads
Two Points of Interest
June 13th:
E-Romance News
Hearts & Scribbles
Rockin’ Book Reviews
Andi’s Book Reviews
June 14th:
Paulette’s Papers
June 15th:
Becky on Books
June 18th:
Stacking My Book Shelves!
June 19th:
Daily Waffle
June 20th:
Mel’s Shelves
June 21st:
Koops Konclusions
SilverWoodSketches
June 22nd:
Teatime and Books
June 23rd:
Grand Finale

Tour Giveaway

l winner will receive a print copy of Blue Bells of Scotland (book one in the series) and a Team Shawn or Team Angus t-shirt (US only)
1 winner will receive an ebook of Blue Bells of Scotland (open internationally)
– Ends June 27th

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Serial Killer Princess Review (Sirens and Scales Collection)

Tulip hates being a princess, even though her mother is trying to do everything within her power to make her into a proper one. She would rather use her shifter skills to be able to evade the serial killers and kill them. As a black mamba snake, she is venomous, but her skills are put to better use in hiding from her enemies.

Tulip never wants to rule her mother’s mermaid kingdom, but her mother will stop at nothing. She is even falling for her father’s bodyguard, and he is tempting her to want to simply settle down like a regular person. Nevertheless, she always wants to be an assassin.

I think I am just done with the fantasy-comedy genre. I think I genuinely despise books where it is action adventure, but it is supposed to make you laugh out loud constantly while reading it. For some reason, when I read these kinds of books, it seems like many of those authors simply decide to replace plot with jokes. The only story that properly balanced fantasy with comedy, in my opinion, was the Percy Jackson series, but even that had some flaws for me. I didn’t really even understand in this story where Tulip met the bodyguard and started falling for him because I just could not find myself connecting to any of the characters within the story.

My least favorite part of the story was definitely Tulip herself. This reminded me of In Other Lands in a way. Some authors think that “sarcastic” main characters are fun, but both of these books just had main characters that either came off as bratty or mean. Tulip could have been a princess who completed her duties and then had a secret double life as an assassin. She could have been a rebel, and run away from home to be an assassin. However, she is neither, and so guards and bodyguards are constantly running after her as she runs away from her mother and father. I don’t even think there was a single character in this book that she didn’t “humorously” insult. Some might like this kind of main character, but  I thought that she was annoying.

Overall Rating: 1/5

The number of books in this box set that I have liked out of the number that I have read: 1.5/3

Finder’s Keepers Review (DNF)

Finders Keepers by [Colchamiro, Russ]

 

I hate to DNF a book, but this is one of the most confusing and poorly written books that I have ever read. I received a free copy in exchange for my honest review. 

Danielle and her husband Donald are newly married, Danielle is black and her husband is white (trust me this is surprisingly important), and when they were having sex at their job of instead watching the universe, they accidentally dropped an important jar over a railing and into Earth. This jar could destroy or create a universe. If the jar isn’t found, they could be punished by being dissolved and scattered throughout the universe. 

Emma is an example of one of those punished people, except she wasn’t punished as harshly. She and her lover (I guess?) have been turned ugly and into some sort of man-dog respectively because they lost a jar, and they have been exiled to earth because of that. She is trying to find out who has the jar in order to be turned pretty again.

Jason is one of those people that doesn’t know how to find themselves, and so he decides to go on a trip around the world in order to do so. He’s probably the only characters that I actually cared about.

And Theo is the one who has the jar. Apparently touching the jar sent him on some sort of acid trip, and made him have amazing sex with this random friends with benefits girl. His brother actually smokes weed and probably other drugs, but when he tries to touch this jar they go on some sort of hallucinatory trip where they think they get eaten by a whale. So Theo decides to be a backpacker too. Idk.

So let’s go back, one by one, and say what I have to say about each storyline. Danielle and Donald. From the beginning of the book, it is known that Danielle is black, and it is affirmed by her stereotypes. Donald is the typical “pacifist” husband, who just loves his wife. Danielle, on the other hand, is rude to her husband when it’s both of their faults that they got in the situation, curses CONSTANTLY, has speech that people would probably assume to be “ghetto”, and just is screaming all of the bad stereotypes about African American women. I don’t even know if it was supposed to be funny, or what, but it just seemed to be such boring and redundant humor.

Emma and her dog-man Lex are in some sort of weird bestiality relationship. Like I don’t think I remember reading them having full-on sex, but with how confusing this story was with the POV’s I don’t even know. But she definitely did sexual things with him, and it was just horribly weird and awkward to read. I didn’t even know what to think. Plus she was doing other things with other people, and it was just weird.

Jason’s story wasn’t bad, it was just kind of a backpacking gone wrong story. It wasn’t necessarily that funny, but it wasn’t as bad as the other arcs of the story. SO I accepted this one.

Theo…I don’t even know. I don’t even know what happened to him. I don’t mind drugs in moderation in a storyline, or a character battling it, but this story just seemed to throw it around, and in the end I just saw him pop up in the storyline somewhere random and I just gave up.

This story was just a multiple POV mess, and I would not recommend to anyone. Read 210/360 ebook pages.

Overall Rating: 0.5/5 

Big Jo Comic Review

EP 05 - There Goes My Hero - 5 | Big Jo

Jo is a teenage girl who happens to be on the larger end of the weight spectrum. Some people like to bother and bully her for it, but she refuses to let herself be walked on and instead fights back. When I first read this webtoon’s description which literally starts “Jo doesn’t take crap from no one”, I thought that it would be a story about a girl who was a bully, but of course wasn’t a “real bully” because she had been bullied before over her weight and was just taking it out on others. However, Jo is actually a really nice girl, and is only even slightly mean to people when they are bullying her first. She has her own group of “misfit” friends, and loves to read. When a boy who is on the soccer team is dared to become her friend, she thinks that he is going to help her lose weight, and allows him to teach her new sports. This starts a rather unconventional, yet somewhat sincere relationship between the two as the boy teaches her how to “get fit”.

This story may seem to be typical, “Athlete guy falls in love with geeky/nerdy/unfit girl” but it’s really not. There is a lot of different parts of this storyline and none of the characters seem flat. This story also gets into the issue of healthy and nonhealthy weight loss, and other issues such as true popularity. This webtoon updates every tuesday, and I recommend anyone looking for a realistic life comic to read this one.

Overall Rating: 5/5

The Orchid Caper Review

The Orchid Caper

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Eighteen year old Darlene works for her sister in a thieving business. She has to go on a heist that is supposed to be pretty easy, but then the person who’s house she is stealing from comes home early. She would have been able to hide until the person left the room, but right then the bean burritos she had eaten earlier that morning came back to bite her.

Ian needs someone in order to help him with his own personal heist to get a rare orchid. He doesn’t think he could be able to do it, but then when he caught Darlene in his house, he changes his mind. Instead of turning Darlene in, he decides to hire her to help him on his heist. This kickstarts the story into an amazing adventure full of humor, amazing friendships, and mystery.

I enjoyed this story because it was a very unique and well thought out story about the relationships between strangers who have to work together, and even between siblings. I I love mysteries, but usually they can get boring with just a few chapters in as the story slowly builds up to the climax. However, the fun atmosphere and interesting characters in this story kept me entertained all the way through. I recommend this story to anyone looking for a fresh mystery story for YA readers.

Overall Rating: 5/5