Monday, 21 November 2011

Circle of Magic by Tamora Pierce || Some Thoughts (By Amna)

This series comprises of “Sandry’s Book”, “Tris’s Book”, ”Daja’s Book” and “Briar’s Book”.
Quite some time before actually reading the books I caught a glimpse of the first 3 pages from Elvenarya’s bookshelf. The start seemed good so I got it and started reading it.

Sandry’s Book
The story started out fine but after reading about half of it I realized it was getting nowhere. It was just a happy little life story of 4 bratty kids and a dog . I kept waiting for something anywhere near interesting to happen, but in vain. The book refused to hand over anything even mildly enjoyable. I totally hated everything in the book from the teachers to the trainees, the bratty kids to the bratty dog and especially all the unnecessary details. As expected, I found myself skipping pages……not being a long book skipping all the boring things (which unfortunately made up most of the book) meant that I finished it far earlier than expected. My reaction throughout reading and after the book was one of boredom. It was only near the end that something happened in a plot that crawled at a snail’s pace all through the novel.
Nevertheless the author has written many good books so I decided to give the second book a shot. Also I had heard that it was the best of the series so I thought I’d give the author another chance.

Tris’s Book
 ‘Tris’s Book ’ was far superior to the first one, the plot pacing was better, there was more depth added to the characters. I liked the author’s writing style and her vivid descriptions, but these descriptions are a double edged sword when her pacing slows down it starts to weigh down the writing. Unfortunately this one suffered from the middle book syndrome of building up on characters and world building from the first novel at the cost of plot flow and so eventually the pacing got bogged down. In my opinion the books major weakness is the absence of any significant plot developments or events. I agree that the four characters along with their teachers did lots of activities depending on their powers but it amounted little in the overall scheme of things.  It failed to pull me in and lacked that special factor that makes one just fall in love with the pages. Being underwhelmed by the second book I have dropped the series. But since I do like her style of writing, I may just pick up another one of her series sometime in the future. 

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

The Son of Neptune || Book Review (Reviewed by Elvenarya)

Finally percy is back!! It was with much anticipation that I awaited the sequel to " The Lost Hero".  Riorden's sense of humour -which the first book, so clearly lacked- makes a banging appearance right from the first paragraph, accompanying greek-hero class action. It was clear that Percy hadn't had as major a memory loss as Jason and we join him once he has been trained by Lupa - the she-wolf Roman patron- after slumbering for months. he gets tricked by Juno into giving up his Achilles curse entering the Roman Camp Jupiter where he is distrusted, held in contempt and for some resason hated by their leader. It does not help that he's a son of Neptune and has managed to befriend the two ultimate losers in camp: Frank and Hazel both of whom guard deadly secrets.

I sorely missed the highly enjoyable first person pov as in the Percy Jackson series and the lack of a prophecy, without which no quest is complete. But then giving a first peron pov of Percy would have made it difficult to put in Hazel and Frank's points of view which were essential to the storyline. And since the Roman way of deriving prophecies doesnt work (maybe because it was the sacrifice of ENTRAILS OF STUFFED ANIMALS :D ) there are no prophecies in Camp Jupiter. Except of-course the Prophecy of Seven.

Gaea is the enemy, far more calculating and deceptive than Kronos. She leaves little room for maneuvering and the heroes constantly have to face enemies they never imagined they could have. Her gloats that Percy will end up serving her cause makes one really fear for the heroes future for with Gaea, there are no idle threats.

This book is one of the best Riorden penned and is a must read for his fans. This book is definately darker than its predecessors. Humour is definately there but then so is the seriousness of the situation, proving that Riorden has greatly improved as an author, for in the Percy Jackson series the danger never seemd so great. More action, more story and more complexity to the characters makes this book rise to five stars. I absolutely loved it from the Roman demi-god lifestyle to the mystery of the Lares. Octavian creeped me out while Hazel gained my sympathy. There were more battles with great details which had me double minded about the outcomes because in this book there is too little that can be predicted.Sometimes I rolled over laughing while at others I was biting my nails in suspense. Overall it is a great read that left me craving for more but at the same time completely satisfied with what I had got.

My Rating: 9/10.

Buy the book from: ||
Book Depository || Indiebound

Saturday, 5 November 2011

Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood || Game Review

         Game Info:
        Publisher: Ubisoft
Developer: Ubisoft Montreal
Genre: Historic Action Adventure
Release: Mar 22, 2011 
ESRB: Mature

Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood is the third game in the series; the setting is renaissance period Rome. Our Protagonist is basically a modern day man named Desmond who is able to access his ancestor Ezio’s memories through a machine called the animus. The storyline in the present is a little vague with a group of four (one of whom is Desmond) trying to evade Templar enemies, all the while trying to find out the location of a certain artifact called the ‘Apple’. Anyway, the game is mostly based in Renaissance Rome so it’s not much of a concern. The main arc follows Ezio’s enmity with the Borgia Family who are the most influential and powerful people in all of Rome.

The game looks very slick and sharp all around and the since the game is third person based so the camera is a very significant part of the game. Fortunately unlike many other games which suffer from bad camera issues, Brotherhood’s camera works very smoothly throughout. The city of Rome is shown in all its grandeur and the visuals provide a very immersive and satisfying experience.

Brotherhood is a very addictive and entertaining game and to enjoy it to its fullest one must enjoy the little things. You can decide to disregard everything other than the main story arc but this will deprive you of the truly immersive experience you’re likely to get from partaking in the side stuff. There’s a lot to do in the city of Roma. From collecting treasures, completing shop quests (to unlock prized items), robbing robbers, bribing heralds, renovating shops and other landmarks for income,  building faction buildings, destroying Leonardo di Vinci’s war machines (at his own request!), building a brotherhood of Assassins,  to following Ezio’s and his love interest Katarina’s relationship in the past. 
Hiring of Assassins is a new feature in Brotherhood. Brotherhood Assassin’s can then be called on for assistance in fights, to dispatch enemies you’re too lazy to kill yourself. They can be sent on foreign missions to increase skills and assassin levels or to gain rare treasure items which are useful for unlocking new kinds of weapons.  
The weapons menu is very user friendly, one can easily and quickly shift between weapons and take medicine (when health is low) with no tedious steps involved in the whole process. The Assassin does a number of wicked moves and performs executions with flamboyance and flair which are very pleasing to the eye. I found the ranged weapons to be the most useful for killing off enemies quickly and with great finesse. Among the crossbow, the pistol, throwing knives and the poison darts there’s a lot of variety to choose from. The poison darts were my favorites, just shoot an enemy with a dart and get away long before the poor guy dies and his dead body gives others a whiff of something going awry.

My only complaint was that the main story arc was too short and the ending was rather abrupt leaving the player’s hanging around in the middle with a desperate urge to know what happens next.
Overall the game was very enjoyable and will appeal to fans and newcomers alike. I recommend you get the game right away and spend some time kicking butt as a super cool, badass Asassin! As for me I can’t wait for the next instalment in the series i.e.Assassin’s Creed: Revelations…. 

Friday, 4 November 2011

Athena the Brain by Joan Holub and Suzanne Williams || Short Review (Reviewed by Amna)

ATHENA HAS ALWAYS BEEN ABOVE AVERAGE. She's never quite fit in at Triton Junior High, but who would've guessed that Athena is actually a goddess? Principal Zeus's daughter, to be exact. When she's summoned to Mount Olympus Academy, Athena thinks she might actually fit in for the first time in her life. But in some ways, school on Mount Olympus is not that different from down on Earth, and Athena is going to have to deal with the baddest mean girl in history -- Medusa!

Introduction: Athena the Brain is the first book in the Goddess Girls which is 8 books long, I found it from goodreads recommendations and since I love Greek myths related material I just had to pick it up.

Plot Synopsis: Athena always knew she was different from all her friends in earth but she never guessed who she really was. Never knowing who her parents were she always lived with her best friend. Naturally she gets a huge shock when she receives a letter from the gods inviting her to Mount Olympus. Once there, she enters a totally different world with totally different people. She finds that the academy is not only for gods and goddesses but for talented mortals as well. Her immediate reaction is to try to figure out a way her friend (whose life’s dream is to visit Mount Olympus) can visit. Her friends are goddess’s such as Aphrodite and Artemis and not to mention mortals such as Pandora. Also she has a hate-hate relationship with Medusa.
This book gives simple yet interesting reasons for many of the Greek myths like the Trojan War and how Medusa gets her snake hair. The academy and the students are pretty much like a normal school with normal fights and all. The only problem is being gods and goddesses, their fights cause a lot more trouble than normal ones.

Conclusion: Overall the idea of this book is pretty good but the problem is that it is too simple and too short. I recommend it to children of ages 7-10. It can be an interesting bedtime story for them. I did not really dislike the book I just found it childish. Younger children will enjoy it much more than I did.

Buy the book from: ||
Book Depository || Indiebound

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