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review 2017-11-21 08:48
DNF: The Mirror Sisters
The Mirror Sisters - V.C. Andrews

No stars.

 

Possibly one of the worst books I've read from the VC Andrews ghost writer. 22% in and the thought of anymore makes me want to cringe. It's about identical twins. All I'm getting is how identical and how special they are. And I'm fed up already. The mother is an overbearing bitch who wants her super speshul twins to be identical in every way down to thoughts. She's not allowing them to play with other children because they might disrupt the twin's special identicalness. It's the same thing over and over and over. It's ridiculous and I can't stomach any more of this book.

 

Thank you to Netgalley and Gallery Threshold, Pocket Books for the chance to view the title.

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review 2017-10-30 17:18
Game review - Gone Home

 

[As usual, if games aren't your thing, feel free to skip this. I try to only post reviews on BL for the ones that are particularly story-rich and don't have much in way of what most folks would consider actual gameplay.]

 

Like Tacoma, Fullbright’s newest game, Gone Home isn’t so much an adventure game as it is an interactive story, although the story is even slimmer here than it was in Tacoma.

You play as Katie, who has just arrived home in the very early AM after a trip abroad. The family just moved to this home and I’m pretty sure Katie has never been there. At any rate, the house is empty - no one else is home, and you don’t know why. There are a few cryptic notes from your younger sister indicating that something has happened and that you shouldn’t tell your parents anything. There are also a couple phone messages, one of which is particularly worrisome. In order to find out what happened, you have to explore the house, reading any notes you find and picking up keys and combination lock codes so that you can open new doors and learn more secrets. Touching certain items triggers voiceover narration from your sister, explaining a little of what happened to her while you were gone and how things got to the point they are now.

The game’s atmosphere is top-notch. It’s dark outside, and there’s a storm going on, so your exploration is occasionally interrupted by thunder. Meanwhile, almost every room you enter is dark. When I first started playing, I turned off lights after leaving a room, but it wasn’t long before I got in the habit of turning on every single light and just leaving them on. Not only did it help make exploring slightly less scary, it helped me keep track of which rooms I’d been in and which hadn’t. However, the house’s electrical wiring was a bit wonky, so occasionally the lights flickered. And for some reason everyone left their TVs on.

Thankfully for those like me who scare easily, the flickering lights, thunder, TVs, and Katie’s sister’s notes about potential ghosts were as bad as the “horror” got. There really wasn’t anything to be afraid of. No jump scares, no monsters, literally nothing in the house but you. The house became a lot less creepy once I realized that, although there was one room I refused to explore because it didn’t seem to have a working light.

As you explore the house, you learn more about what happened to Katie’s sister, but you also learn a bit about what’s been going on with Katie’s parents. Since I’d read spoilery reviews of the game, I already knew most of what was going on with Katie’s sister, but I had no clue about what was going on with her parents. I wanted to know what they knew about what was going on, and where they were.

The final revelations were...kind of disappointing. Maybe I’d have enjoyed them more if I hadn’t come across those spoilery reviews? Or maybe not, since several things were obvious well before the game’s ending. One of the things Fullbright seems to have trouble with is story pacing. This one spread things out almost too much, while Tacoma waited until the very end of the game for almost all of its most interesting moments. Gone Home's setup also felt more contrived. Would Katie's sister really have forced her to learn literally all of the house's secrets (and at 1 or 2 AM!) before finally letting her know what had happened? That seemed...pretty awful.

Of the two games, I definitely enjoyed Tacoma more, although Gone Home was still pretty decent. Part of that might have been that I’m more of a sci-fi fan - I really enjoyed Tacoma’s world-building, the AI, and getting to explore the station. Gone Home’s benefits were its creepy atmosphere and the cassette tapes strewn about the house...which I hated. It would have been nice if the cassette players had had some kind of volume control, but even if they had, I seriously disliked Katie’s sister’s taste in music, which was a bit of a bummer since she mentioned and gushed over the music so much in her voiceovers and notes. I wasn’t really a fan of the music in Tacoma either, but at least it didn’t feel as important there.

Oh, also: although Gone Home still made me feel a bit nauseous, I found that I did better with it than I did with Tacoma. So that was something.

I don’t regret playing Gone Home, but it’s one of those games I’d be cautious about recommending. It’s very short - I finished the entire thing in slightly less than 2 hours - and the story is very, very slim. As in “I can’t say much more about it than I already have, or I’d give everything away.”

I do have one other thing I’d like to say, but it’s very spoilery. You’ve been warned.

Okay, so the one other thing I wanted to say was that it kind of bugged me that I’ve now played two interactive stories with

heavy LGBT themes and the exact same setup (not saying the title of the other one, because spoilers). There’s a person, you don’t know what happened to them and you want to find out, you do a bit of invasive exploration, and in the end you learn the person is LGBT (in this case a lesbian), has run off, and you’re supposed to leave them be and trust that everything is going just fine for them. This bugged me in the other game I played, but it particularly bothered me here. If I were Katie, you can bet I’d want to know where my little sister is. I’d want to keep in touch with her in order to make sure that she’s doing okay, and I’d want her to have more people she could depend on than some girl I don’t know who might be dependable but who also might not. It also kind of sucks that both of these games were set up in such a way that the LGBT aspects are major spoilers - they are very nearly the entire story. Tacoma was better in that respect too. One gay character and two lesbians, and you could actually talk about characters' sexuality without spoiling even a little of the story.

(spoiler show)

 

Rating Note:

 

I debated between 2.5 stars and 3 stars. I decided that the issues I mentioned slightly overshadowed the things I enjoyed about the game and finally settled on 2.5 stars.

 

(Original review posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)

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review 2017-10-28 01:35
Cute Contemporary
Blame It on the Bet (Whiskey Sisters) (V... Blame It on the Bet (Whiskey Sisters) (Volume 1) - L. E. Rico

Hennessey O’Halloran and her sisters are trying to save their pub following their father’s death.  Bryan Truitt is a developer who want’s the land their pub sits on for land development. They make a bet that will either save the pub for the O’Halloran’s or give Bryan what he wants.

This was a cute story that was an easy quick read. The characters were likable and the story kept you entertained. I highly recommend.

**I voluntarily read and reviewed this book

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review 2017-10-16 19:45
An Epic YA Fantasy of Powerful Relationships
A Throne for Sisters (Book One) (Volume ... A Throne for Sisters (Book One) (Volume 1) - Morgan Rice

A Throne for Sisters is Book One in a new young adult fantasy series that opens with two teens stuck in a terrible orphanage. Sophia and Kate long to escape, and though they have a mutual goal and the shared experience of being unwanted in the world, each harbors different dreams of how they will find love once they leave the confines of their prison. 

 

Neither anticipates that the actions each must take to survive will bring each further from their objectives: Sophia's romantic dream of entering a privileged world, falling in love with a noble, and living the life of a court lady; or Kate's fiery passion to become a warrior woman, battling dragons and injustice alike. 

 

In reality, what transpires places each at odds not only with her goal, but with the psychic link that joins their minds and enables them to feel connected to the only person in their lives who cares. 

 

What they find in the world isn't hope, but a plodding form of despair that permeates the lives of people as much as overt oppression once ruled their own.

 

Caught up in war, court drama, and separation, the sisters must learn their own lessons about this strange new world, which is trapped in its own turmoil and its own definition of oppression. Each must make decisions about the course of her life which would seem to run contrary to all their dreams. 

 

The story line is reminiscent of Joan Aiken's Wolves of Willoughby Chase, with its brooding world of pain and change and the plight faced by two orphans who challenge both the outer world and themselves; but A Throne for Sisters is less black and white in its presentations of who is the villain and who the victim under such circumstances. 

 

One very satisfying feel to the plot lies in how the sisters' relationship to each other changes upon separation; and how they form their own identities in response to the choices and circumstances they confront in the wider world. 

 

Another fine element is how Kate and Sophia evolve in response to perceived methods of reaching their goals. Kate refines her observations of persona, for example, and this is very clear and well-described.

 

Some other stories may sound similar; but in the end it's the evolutionary process of the characters and how they define and direct their positions in the world which makes the tale - and if A Throne for Sisters is any indication, this powerful opener to the series will produce a combination of feisty protagonists and challenging circumstances to thoroughly involve not just young adults, but adult fantasy fans who seek epic stories fueled by powerful friendships and adversaries. 

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review 2017-10-05 02:20
Fantastic!!
Slow Ride: Sleeper SEALs Book 2 - Becky ... Slow Ride: Sleeper SEALs Book 2 - Becky McGraw,Suspense Sisters

Slow Ride by Becky McGraw is outstanding!  Ms McGraw has once again delivered a well-written book and loaded it with amazing, lovable characters.  Keegan is a former SEAL recovering from an injury recruited for secret missions.  Jules is a sassy, feisty undercover FBI agent.  When their missions collide, madness and mayhem take over.   Ms McGraw gets an A+ from me for her characters and dialog in this story.  Slow Ride has plenty of action, suspense, humor and sexy bits to keep readers glued to their e-readers.  I loved this book and look forward to reading my next book by the fabulous Becky McGraw.  Slow Ride is book 2 in the Sleeper SEALs Series but can be read as a standalone.  This is a complete book, not a cliff-hanger.

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