Bundori by Laura Joh Rowland

Bundori:: A Novel of JapanBundori: A Novel of Japan by Laura Joh Rowland
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Oh man, this book was so hard to get through. Mostly because of its length and the way it was written, than out of dislike for the story.

I admit I have a love/hate situation going on with this series. On the one hand, I love all the historical details and how they’re woven into the story, the settings are realistic, Sano is (albeit slightly annoying to me in his personality) portrayed in a way believable to what and who he is supposed to be, and the crime/mystery aspect of the series is very well played and more or less interesting.

On the other hand, I (as I already stated) dislike Sano’s personality, don’t really care what becomes of the characters, find the repetitive descriptions dragging, and the sprinkled Japanese words reek of fanfic (and I’m not even talking about the titles of their jobs, which require a one paragraph explanation on what position it exactly is else no one [except those who know Japanese and their history] would know, because using the actual words in English like “retainer” and “captain” or whatever apparently takes it too far out of ‘the setting’).

I don’t think I’ll be continuing the series unless I’m very bored or very in need for a kick for some Feudal Japan. I know they’re not the longest books ever, but something about the writing style just makes them drag on forever. If the books were about half the length they are, I might have read on, but as they are… nope.

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Cross of the Dutchman

Break Up
Game: Cross of the Dutchman
Genre: Action, Adventure, Indie
Developer: Triangle Studios
Publisher: Triangle Studios
Release Date: Sep 10, 2015
Platform: PC / Windows 7
Overall rating:  7/10
Graphics: 7/10
Controls: 9/10
Level/Puzzle Design: 5/10
Sound: 8/10
Story: 6.5/10
Replay Value: 3/10
Community: N/A

Cross of the Dutchman is an action RPG based on the “true story of the folk legend” of Pier Gerlofs Donia. Is it historically accurate? I don’t know. Does it follow the legend? I also don’t know, I had not really heard of the tale until I played the game. I do know, however, that the game is rather short. And it couldn’t be otherwise, for as it follows the story of Pier, it has a clear beginning and clear end.

The game has the looks of a rather typical RPG, but it lacks all the extra customization of one. Even comparing it to rather linear games, this one is particularly so. It was clearly geared to tell a somewhat interactive story more than it was to be a full on game. The maps are average, the quests are not atypical of RPGs, even if they do follow the story, and there’s nothing overly challenging in it (except maybe when it lagged on me during mob areas). Was it fun to play? Yes, but it had nothing to make it stand out except that it’s based on that story… There are no skill trees, though you purchase ‘upgrades’ for your skills and switch between them, there are upgrades for health and such, but little else worth mentioning.

The graphics are simple but nice. I wasn’t particularly fond of most of the cartoony art style (though I did like the general art), but it wasn’t bad either, and effort was clearly put into it to portray it as accurately to the time and area as possible. The music and sounds were pleasing enough, and overall the game ran fairly nicely; the only time I encountered problems being during a couple sections in which there were too many enemies and it lagged some on my computer.
Controls are simple (mostly you’ll only be using the mouse), but I found the obstacle-avoidance a bit sketchy. Combat (which is quite basic skill-spamming) was a bit clunky as well, because it’s difficult to aim your hits properly and often times you’d end up hitting air repeatedly. Cross also had some slightly interesting stealth-like areas (though the game doesn’t offer an actual stealth engine); it wasn’t too hard to get through them (but it was annoying to get caught) and made for a bit of a variation, which was rather nice. Just don’t expect it’ll be full on take-cover type of stealth.

The story itself was good, though as I mentioned before I can’t really compare it with the real story/folk legend. The dialogue was rather poor, however, sometimes I felt like it was trying too hard to be funny.

All in all Cross of Dutchman is a nice, simple game. It was easy to grab, play for a bit up to another checkpoint, and then go do something else, so I think it’s a good game for casual players as well as for those who will want to sit through all 4ish hours of gameplay in one go. However, it doesn’t go beyond average, and I don’t think it’ll be satisfactory for people who don’t care about the story, which is the strongest point of the game.

Recommended: Yes, but I wouldn’t expect too much out of it.

Brilliance of the Moon by Lian Hearn

Brilliance of the Moon (Kisah Klan Otori, #3)Brilliance of the Moon by Lian Hearn
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

I don’t think there’s a whole lot I can say about this book. I really liked the first one, the second one was nice, just a bit on the boring side, but this one…

I don’t quite know what happened, I just couldn’t get past the first 100 pages. I tried. I honestly tried, but the characters were being terribly stupid and the pacing terribly slow, and every time I picked it up, I didn’t find the heart to read more than one or two paragraphs before being bored to death and thinking I shouldn’t bother, they were going to do something stupid for sure and ruin it further.

No motivation whatsoever to finish it, sorry! I gave up even trying. The first couple of books were OK, though.

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A Cruel Harvest by Paul Reid

A Cruel HarvestA Cruel Harvest by Paul Reid
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I got this through Goodreads First Reads, and although I’m very grateful, I have to say, I did not manage to finish this book.

Like with some other reviewers I agree that this had a great premise, but as I read on and on I found the characters to be rather bland and boring, and the only thing I enjoyed was the carefulness with which settings were described.
It had more of an angst-factor than I expected it to have (I mean, I expected angst, but not like that), and I also expected more pirate-action, which there was very little off.

All in all it seemed like a good read, but I just couldn’t bring myself to finish it even when I was past halfway into it.

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La Saga de los Confines (Trilogía) by Liliana Bodoc

Los días del venado (La saga de los confines, #1)La saga de los Confines by Liliana Bodoc
My rating: 5 of 5 stars award_star_gold_3

I can’t say how much I love this trilogy. I bought all three in a whim, and when I learned the author had previously only made children books, I thought I would be disappointed, but I was not.
I don’t regret my purchase at all. It kept me hooked from beginning of the first book until the very end of the last book.
It’s a sort of quasi-historical cavemen story, if you may, mixed in with lots of fantasy.

They must be read in order. The three books describe in parts the main setting and troubles that arise, an all out war between good and evil, and it’s resolution.

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Get the rest of this series: La saga de los confines I: Los días del venadoLa saga de los confines II: Los días de la Sombra & La saga de los confines III: Los días de fuego

La Casa de los Espíritus by Isabel Allende

La casa de los espíritusLa casa de los espíritus by Isabel Allende
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

Just not my cup of tea.

I actually won a book of my choice a while back, and out of the few, poor amount of books I had to choose from, I chose this one. I figured I’d read it- it sounded amazing! And Isabel Allende had such good reviews all the time, so why not?

Great mistake. I found her writing to be tedious to my personality. I couldn’t get past the first pages as it failed miserably to catch my interest and was clearly not the type of literature I enjoy, for it was full of socio-political commentary and sounded too pretentious.

I guess I’ll stick to the genres I know I enjoy, because clearly my incursion in others has failed.

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