Sunday, March 29, 2015

Valiant Hearts Book 1: Dauntless

"Where Legend and History Collide,
One Young Woman Will Fight for the Innocent"

Bookworm's Ranking - 3.5 Worms
 
Storyline - Merry Ellison has lost title, home, and family when her father rebelled against the king of England. Now living in the woods with a band of orphan children, they steal to survive. The only dream she will allow herself to have is to find a safe home for the children to live while she must remain hidden. And not fall in love. Their thievery has been noticed, dubbing them the Ghosts of Farthingale Forest since they are never seen. They are a wanted band. And the first one to catch on to them is Merry's betrothed, Timothy Grey. Fighting between duty and love, Timothy will have to decide to hand over Merry for her crimes or find another way. Yet, unbeknownst to Timothy, someone is out to destroy him. Will Merry find a way to care for the children and welcome love or will choices beyond their control determine their future?

Author - Dina L. Sleiman

Publisher - Baker Publishing Group; Bethany House Publishing

Age Group - 16 and up

Content - *May Contain Spoilers* Merry fears for her honor once. The Ghosts steal in order to survive. Timothy searches to do the right thing by his duty and master yet struggles with the idea of allowing Merry to be hurt. A Lord is described to "love" often. Someone seeks to hurt another.

Personal Opinion - Merry and Timothy's struggles to care for others and find a way in their life drives their decisions and causes conflict between them. Even though they love each other, they believe the other doesn't and both have been hurt enough in their life to be cynical. This bring believability and life to the characters for different reasons. Merry can't see another life for herself because she is wanted by the king and thought dead, leaving the only option to steal to survive and protect innocent lives, believing that is the only way her life can go. Timothy is the ninth child and not going to inherit anything so has to find a place for himself yet morns the loss of the woman he loves. These two have a lot to deal with but are not the only ones. The rest of the cast are developed into players themselves with wants, desires, and struggles themselves, such as one of the Ghosts in love with Merry and leaning on God for direction and a man in the castle jealous of Timothy and plans on destroying him. While all this character development was good and interesting, I expected a little more action because the story is based off Robin Hood. The story is good, just would have liked more action sooner in the story.

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Disclaimer - In exchange for an honest review, I received this book for free from the publisher through Bethany House.

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Sunday, March 22, 2015

Poison

"Can She Save the Kingdom
With a Piglet?"
  
Bookworm's Ranking - 4 Worms
 
Storyline - Kyra tries to kill the princess but, when she misses and the princess goes into hiding, she  goes into hiding and hunts to finish the job. Unfortunately, a pig is all she has to track the princess and soon picks up an annoying straggler named Frank who wont leave her alone. She will just have to ignore how cute the pig is, charming Frank is, and the fact the princess is her best friend. If that isn't enough, old friends and acquaintances are hunting for her. If that wasn't enough, she also has to decide what to do with the Witch's Spark inside her. Nothing a girl can't handle who is the best at potions in the kingdom. While Kyra searches and is waylaid around several turns, the mystery begins to fall into place and she will have to find her place and a way to finish the job.

Author - Bridget Zinn

Publisher - Scholastic

Age Group - 15 and up

Content - *May Contain Spoilers* Guy sees girl in her wet underclothes and some other jokes about nakedness. Some fights. Magic. Kyra can see into the future and tries to dampen the Witch's Spark inside her. Characters help one another even though they don't always like each other.

Personal Opinion - Poison is a funny, charming, mysterious read that was hard to put down. Twists and turns are frequent with snappy dialogue and revelations that are wondered about but doubted because they are not revealed until late in the story. Kyra is a strong female, serious about her goal yet struggles inside when challenged by Frank, a fun loving, cheery guy, who questions why she pushes people away and brightens her life. The discussion about the witch's spark vs. potions (a scientific, non-whimsical practice) reminded me a bit of the arguments between religion and science. Bridget Zinn was probably not going for that but I found it interesting to consider and think about, how one can use both in their life which was prompted to Kyra by a Gypsy. Even though the protagonist is trying to murder someone through the whole book, she is still likable yet I would not be surprised how some people would be uncomfortable with the idea of looking up to this character. She did not like the idea that she had to kill someone yet she was determined to do it. She probably didn't go about solving the problem the right way (aka: murder) but that was not discussed in the book. There were also comments to the nakedness or close to nakedness on a couple of occasions with the characters and seeing each other that I was not fond of. In technical terms, the book was well paced and the dialogue hilarious, and the character diverse with their own person but some of the back story and past events were not revealed until they absolutely had to. Now, that might not sound like a bad thing (and it usually isn't) but some of the information was held on too long so the reader couldn't even make guesses or hypothesized about the story. It almost let whatever the author to want have happen happen because it was unknown until it happened (and yes, I realize how confusing this sentence is). Fixing that would have made this good book great and probably would have landed on my favorite shelf. But, the characters take you on a fun, magical, adventurous story from page one and keeps going until the last.

P.S. I finished this book only a few weeks ago and I already want to read it again.

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Sunday, March 15, 2015

Video Game Storytelling

"Unlock Your Game's Narrative Potential!"
 
Bookworm's Ranking - 4.5 Worms
 
About - Video games are unique story telling systems. Not only do they have the basics of story, characters, plot, theme, etc., but also of being interactive, the player choosing what happens and how to react to situations. Yet, story is not always given the attention it needs in video games. In Video Game Storytelling, the basic principles and systems of writing story is given and also presents how narrative experts work in each section of game creation. Anyone who is working on video game narration will find this book helpful and insightful to give basic, beginning information.

Author - Evan Skolnick

Publisher - Watson-Guptill

Age Group - 15 and up

Personal Opinion - Evan Skolnick, a video game writer who has worked on Marvel, Star Wars, and other such games, shares detailed yet simple basics of story writing as well as how each section of the games creation team needs to welcome that narrator. Have read multiple writing books before, this one did present good, beginner information of writing as well as new terms for certain concepts that I know be never heard by those names. This section is really good for those who work on the technical side of the video game to understand what the writer is doing and thinking. The second half of the book talks to the technical workers of the video game such as the animators and programmers revealing how the writer will benefit their section and needs them to welcome them into their group to get the best result possible for the story. This book is a wonderful help to those working on a video game who is expecting a writer to come on board and is also helpful to writers to know what to expect and some of the troubles of working on these types of stories. I usually don't play video games (okay, almost never) but have thought about creating educational type games so thought this book might be insightful. The first half made me confident as a writer, believing I could work on these teams. The second half was more helpful because it revealed how the industry worked and created games, and also showed that I need to know more about games before I could get a job writing them (which makes sense). This is a perfect book for anyone working on a video game and would be helpful for everyone to read to see how and why they should collaborate closely in order to create the best narrative possible for their games, making them stand out.

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Disclaimer - In exchange for an honest review, I received this book for free from the publisher through Blogging for Books.

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Sunday, March 8, 2015

Many are Called


 
Bookworm's Ranking - 3 Worms
 
Storyline - After seven long years, the prince his finally marrying his betrothed. All that is left is to go get her. Yet the skies are filled with enemies trying to capture the princess and the prince must out maneuver them. Meanwhile, the palace gets ready for the marriage feast which no one who is invited is coming to and the servants are slacking. The prince chases down his beloved yet things are more complicated than they think. And their enemy is not far away...

Author - Gabrielle Gniewek

Art - Sean Lam

Publisher - Manga Hero

Age Group - 14 and up

Content - *May Contain Spoilers* Some killing but not too gory and not really shown. One guy's chest is always seen. The prince is willing to risk his life for his bride, no matter what, even after she has hurt him. The bride is struggling with guilt from betraying the prince and doesn't feel adequate for his love. Other character struggle with their duties and feeling like they deserve better or just slack on their work.

Personal Opinion - This was a pretty fun, engaging, light read. It can be read in an evening. I think it helps put the parable of the wedding feast in a form that can give readers a face to the characters and situation to the story. The artwork was fun but I'm not sure what I think of the jumping between Jesus telling the parable and the story itself which plays out with sky ships, motor bikes, and swords. The bride was not very well developed. SPOILER The story hints at her running away and hiding with someone bad but doesn't tell why she decided this END SPOILER. At times, the characters would hint to something, a side bit, but it wouldn't be clear in the story so I'm left confused. For a Christian book, I was also surprised at seeing one guy's chest. The whole story went to fast and could have been elaborated on more, maybe even a series to create these various storyline. But the story did have a good message about unconditional love, faithfulness, and honor.

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