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The Last of Us Game Review

The Last Of Us 2 Official Gameplay Demo Ps4

I do not think I have to remember that The Last of Us was one of the best games released last year. Some have even considered the best, Naughty Dog receiving over 200 Game of The Year awards for The Last of Us. The performance was not only due the gameplay that however incorporate standard elements of the survival genre, as well as excellent fusion of mechanics of the game and the feeling exuded, The Last of Us is able to stir up feelings that few thought they would meet into a video game.

Additional content pack Left Behind continues in the same direction, blending in a harmonious way survival genre (with some horror elements) with stories of life and human emotions, such as love, friendship and loyalty. These elements may seem trivial in the context of our everyday existence, but it works extremely well in gloomy universe of The Last of Us. The Left Behind fails to carry on the legacy of The Last of Us, highlighting again both sides nice and dark parts of human nature.

While in The Last of Us torque heroes Joel and Ellie were always in the spotlight, Left Behind put a slightly different formula, delimiting action in two different planes (again an analogy to what I mentioned earlier – the two-dimensional nature of the behavior human).

On one hand we are dealing with an addition to the events of the original game, which leads on The Last of Us formula with regard to French APK MOD; in the second plan we meet a touching story of friendship between Ellie and his buddy Riley with a different pace, relaxed, largely devoid of tension that normally characterizes The Last of Us.
In the original plan things are not very different from what you encounter in The Last of Us, the only notable difference being that this time Ellie is the controllable character. So, fans of the conduct of the original game should not have any problems adapting to this side of Left Behind.

The charm of this DLC is in his second plane, where Naughty Dog has decided to offer the opportunity to explore in detail the Ellie past (again only character control), along with his friend Riley. I will not go much into details, to not spoil the surprise and pleasure to experience these moments on firsthand. Everything I can reveal is that the smile of a happy child can make you forget all the difficulties and all problems from around, regardless of conditions.

Graphically, I dare to say that Left Behind is superior to The Last of Us, counting very much that in this DLC you will encounter bright and lively locations versus typical dreary landscapes of original game. Sure, the low resolution makes its presence felt, but this kind of inconvenience can be easily overlooked given the quality of the product itself.

Left Behind is nothing less than the experience of The Last of Us. Moreover, manages to add an extra dose of excitement to a game that I thought had already exhausted all the aces in this chapter.

Book Review The Colour of Milk

A Book Review By Nancy Carty Lepri The Colour Of Milk A Novel

Title: The Colour of Milk (Goodreads)
Author: Nell Leyshon
Published: Fig Tree, 2012
Pages: 176
Genre: Historical Fiction
My Copy: Kindle

Buy: Amazon, Book Depository, Kindle (or visit your local Indie bookstore)

Mary is a sharp tongued fifteen year old farm girl who has a strong desire to learn how to read and write. “In this year of lord eighteen hundred and thirty one” you follow the journal of a poor and disabled girl who should have no rights going against the odds to achieve what she always wanted; the ability to read and write.

The Colour of Milk is written in a personal journal over the four seasons of a year. Mary is the youngest of four daughters living in the house of a man who really wanted sons; she cops the worst from him; his anger and frustration finds her being given to the local vicar to act as his domestic servant and care for his invalid wife. It is the vicar that she pesters to teach her to read and write and eventually he does. This book follows the growing relationship between the two as she begins to learn.

Mary is a spirited girl and her natural honesty often gets her into trouble but she is a wonderful character and the relationships with her family and the vicar, along with battling against her sex and class makes this an eccentric little book. There is a simplification and beauty to the prose of this book, and with the quirky character of the narrative, makes this pure joy to read.

I will admit it did take me a little bit to get used to, the lack of punctuation really though me off but the fact that it’s a journal of a girl learning to write I had to accept the fact that I shouldn’t expect perfection in the writing styles of a girl still learning to write. I have to say this is an adorable little book that gave me great pleasure in reading. Elegant and beautiful in a very simple way.

Book Review Tigers in Red Weather

Book Review Tigers In Red Weather

Title: Tigers in Red Weather (Goodreads)
Author: Liza Klaussman
Published: Picador, 2012
Pages: 353
Genre: Historical Fiction
My Copy: Kindle

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Tigers in Red Weather is a unforgettable novel of life with all its complexity and mystery. Nick and her cousin Helena grow up together in Tiger house an old family estate on an island. As they grew the world changed with them; World War II has ended and it felt like a world of possibilities. Helena leaves for Hollywood and Nick reunites with her husband after serving in the war, but everything has changed and on their trips back to Tiger house they find out just how complex life can be.

This is no ordinary story of family and growing up; apart from the emotions of life and family there is a sense of dark and sinister secrets. With the back drop of the forties to the sixties you can watch the family grow and the hidden be revealed. Brilliantly told from five perspectives, Tigers in Red Weather slowly shows you the true colours of every member of this family, building a beautiful but fragile picture of these characters.

I really loved the characters in this book; all of them had their own secrets and flaws and while they may not have the best intentions they all felt very real and oddly portrayed. The dark and underlying secrets of this family is what really stood out for me in the book; it made the characters come alive but kept a sense of mystery as I continued reading. I am reminded in part of The Great Gatsby as the characters all feel shallow and selfish but there is so much depth and beauty in each of them as the story progresses.

While on the surface this feels very much like a typical novel of family, the dark secrets really kept me engrossed and the reveal of the darkest secret was both surprising and pleasing; that little curve ball at the end really cemented my feelings towards this book. This is a debut novel by Liza Klaussman but she really shows that she is a master at her craft; especially with the literary idea of ‘show don’t tell’. Klaussman is the great-great-great granddaughter of Herman Melville but I hope that doesn’t become a label for her, because I expect to see great things from the author in the future.

Book Review The Age of Miracles

Book Review The Age Of Miracles By Karen Thompson Walker

Title: The Age of Miracles (Goodreads)
Author: Karen Thompson Walker
Published: Simon & Schuster, 2012
Pages: 373
Genre: Sci-Fi, Young Adult
My Copy: Paperback

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I know everyone seems to be reading this novel and I try not to follow the crowd, but this book sounded too good to pass up. The Age of Miracles tells the story of eleven year old Julia and her experience in a drastic change to the world that could be the start of the apocalypse. The world is slowing down and the days are getting longer, first by a few minutes and then by hours. Julia is trying to recount the events of this difficult time; both the end of the world and being a teenager.

This is a wonderful blend of a coming of age story with a back drop of a speculative novel. Amongst the chaos and people not knowing what to do, you have a Julia talking about her journey into adulthood. But does it work? Personally I would have liked to know more about the world slowing and the speculative fiction elements, but I think the blend between young adult and genre fiction was masterfully done.

My biggest problem with this book and it’s one of my literary bête noires in post apocalypse and dystopian fiction is that Karen Thompson Walker writes this book in first person past tense. This gives me a sense of knowing what will happen in the end and there is no way to build tension. But this is only a minor issue in a book like this because this more a beautiful novel of self discovery and growing up.

Karen Thompson Walker writes with such elegance and beauty that I was surprised to find this was a debut novel. Her skill of mixing YA with speculative fiction and then making it into something that I would consider literature was just done brilliantly. She has such skill of not overshadowing the coming of age elements with the chaos of the world around her. I was surprised at how fast I read this book, I was fully immersed in this book and the beauty of what I was reading I was a little sad to see it end.

I can’t recommend this book enough; Julia was a wonderful protagonist and her journey was delightful. The Age of Miracle doesn’t give you any answers but cleverly revels what is going on without forcing anything on the reader. It’s a fascination novel with really needs to be experienced firsthand. Sure the science of the slowing would be interesting to read about but it would never work in a book like this. I must admit I look forward to see what Karen Thompson Walker does next and would be interested to find a book similar to this gem.

Book Review Live By Night

Book Review “live By Night” By Dennis Lehane” Is A Scorcher The

Title: Live By Night (Goodreads)
Author: Dennis Lehane
Published: William Morrow, 2012
Pages: 416
Genre: Crime
My Copy: Advanced Review Copy

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While Joe Coughlin is the son of a Boston Police Captain, he has long turned his back of being a moral citizen. Joe has graduated into petty crimes to high paying robberies. But when he robs a speakeasy of a Boston mobster things change for him. When the mobster kills Joe’s love, Emma, he becomes obsessed with seeking revenge. Joe works up the ladder of organised crime till he is in the right position to take his revenge. But taking on a rival family is never so simple. This is the basis of Dennis Lehane’s latest crime novel Live by Night.

Most people know I’m a huge fan of pulpish and organised crime novels so I was really interested in checking out this novel. My first attempt of Dennis Lehane with Mystic River didn’t go too well but I was excited to give him another go, simply because the premise of this book sounded really good and the idea of reading a crime novel set in the prohibition era really enthused me. This book started out strong. I really liked Emma the love interestand was very sad to see her get killed off; I was ready to seek revenge too. The revenge aspect and the becoming a powerful mobster were really good but then you get half way through the book and it falls flat. Almost like Dennis Lehane had changed his mind of what type of book this is and switches genre. Without giving too much away I was disappointed with the change in style and although there are some great crime elements later on it just felt a bit odd.

I loved the characters in this book and this was my biggest worry because with Mystic River I felt they were a bit flat and one dimensional. I think it was interesting to hear that Lehane wrote another book called The Given Day which is based around the same family but focuses on a different character; I believe its Joe Coughlin’s brother. Even if they seem to be connected, Live by Night does a great job of developing the characters without having to read the other book.

I’m a little disappointed that this book had so much potential but the last part of the book fell short. Personally I think this book could have ended a lot earlier or cut out the parts that weren’t working. Lehane was trying to develop the characters a bit more in the sections that weren’t working but in my opinion they didn’t help the novel. There are some great elements in this book and overall it was an enjoyable crime novel. I think I will have to check out The Given Day and some more Dennis Lehane novels based on my experience with this one.

As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner

Amazon As I Lay Dying 9780394415819 William Faulkner Books

Title: As I Lay Dying (Goodreads)
Author: William Faulkner
Published: Vintage, 1930
Pages: 267
Genre: Classic
My Copy: Kindle
Literary Achievements: Modern Library 100 Best Novels

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As I Lay Dying is a classic American novel that was written by William Faulkner. This book follows the journey of fifteen different characters as they set out to fulfil the wishes of the recently deceased Addie Bundren who is to be buried in Jefferson. Faulkner shifts between the fifteen narrators throughout book, one of them is even the deceased, who is expressing her thoughts from the coffin. As the book continues you can see the characters develop with each narrator’s perceptions and opinions.

This book is best known for its stream of consciousness writing technique which can be one of the biggest struggles with this book. It’s a dense read and if you don’t pay enough attention and try to delve deep into this book you will struggle to enjoy it. I made the mistake of starting reading book out as like a novel and it took me a while to pull myself up and approach this novel in the right mindset. But eventually I did start enjoying this book for what it is; and that is as a piece of literature that helped pioneer the stream of consciousness narrative and the interior monologue.

Faulkner was never an easy author to read but I hear this is his most accessible novel so I’m worried about reading anything else of his. I did enjoy exploring his literary style and just seeing the techniques he used for this novel but this really isn’t everyone’s idea of a fun read. There are some interesting characters in As I Lay Dying and some very ironic and dark elements to the story. As for the plot and scenery I did find it lacking but that really wasn’t what Faulkner was trying to achieve.

William Faulkner has famously said that he wrote the novel in six weeks and that he did not change a word of it. This in itself is a pretty impressive statement but if you look at the techniques and the novel as an overall piece of high literature, this statement is more impressive that I originally thought; it makes me feel like a failure. As I Lay Dying is not going to be for everyone, it is a dense novel but for lovers of literature it is interesting to dive into something that has been analysed deeply. I’m not going to go into this side of the book because I doubt I could really do it justice. The style of this book is interesting, the prose is worth a deeper look and overall this book is just fascinating.

Fifty Shames of Earl Grey

Fifty Shames Of Earl Grey A Parody By Fanny Merkin Andrew Shaffer

Title: Fifty Shames of Earl Grey (Goodreads)
Author: Andrew Shaffer
Published: Da Capo Press, 2012
Pages: 224
Genre: Humour
My Copy: Paperback

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I’ve not read many parodies before but Andrew Shaffer is mildly amusing on twitter so I thought I’d give his book a go. Fifty Shames of Earl Grey is an obvious dig at Fifty Shades of Grey but it also has fun with the Twilight fanfic elements as well; clearly pointing out the similarities of the two books with lines like; “I’m Edward Cullen. I mean, ‘Earl Grey.’ Have a seat?” This novel reminds me of a Leslie Nielsen style parody with the farfetched and over done humour, but that’s what makes it so much fun to read. Earl Grey is a billionaire with fifty secret shames; some of them involve his love of BDSM (Bards, Dragons, Sorcery, and Magick) while others are even worse, like his love of Nickelback.

Obviously this is never going to be high literature with lines like “Moan,” I moan. “Moan, moan, moooooooan.” but is this book supposed to reflect the literary flaws of 50 Shades and Twilight or is this just meant to be a fun read? I’m not going to think too much about it, I went into this book for a fun read and that is how I will review it. I’ve heard people claim that Edward Cullen and Christian Grey are hot but none come close to Earl Grey because “HOLY MOTHER EFFING SPARKLY VAMPIRES IS HE HOT”.

Let’s face it Andrew Shaffer had a lot of fun with this book, from the pseudonym (Fanny Merkin) to the cover and everything in between. It was awkward and unexpected; I had so much fun reading this book. I don’t normally highlight but my kindle version of this book has over thirty different highlighted passages in it. I really enjoyed what Shaffer did with this book; highlights for me included the Spanking scene with the Count from Sesame Street and the Cleo sex quiz (which I really want to read the other 200 pages of). They are making a movie of Fifty Shades, and if they ever decided to make a parody I really hope they consult Andrew Shaffer. This was a fun read and I’m looking forward to Fifty Shames in Space but right now I need a sandwich.

If you don’t believe me check out what Tiffany Reisz, author of the BDSM erotica series, The Original Sinners says about this book; “I’m not telling you to buy Fifty Shames of Earl Grey because I’m banging the author. I’m telling you to buy Fifty Shames of Earl Grey AND I’m banging the author.”

Billy Lynns Long Halftime Walk by Ben Fountain

Billy Lynn\’s Long Halftime Walk Ben Fountain Hardcover

Title: Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk (Goodreads)
Author: Ben Fountain
Published: Canongate, 2012
Pages: 308
Genre: Literary Fiction
My Copy: Personal Copy

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Billy Lynn is a 19 year old Iraq War hero on a P.R. tour for the Army. The team “the Bravos” are on a two week “Victory Tour” stateside that was filmed and widely viewed on TV due to acts of valour in Iraq. Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk is a satirical look at Americans and how they treat and view the war on terror.

I’ve often heard that this book is a satirical book in the vein of Slaughterhouse-Five and Catch 22 and this was the primary reason I read this book. While there were some satirical elements in the book, I found this book a little heartbreaking; in the sense that these soldiers fight for their country and the Americans love them for it, as long as it doesn’t interrupt their football or cost them anything. This was the overall message I got from this book; people will support their troops as long as it takes no effort and doesn’t interrupt their lives.

I wanted to like this book and sure there is a lot to think about in this book but I think leaving me so feeling so bad doesn’t really help with the enjoyment element of this book. There were some literary issues I had, but they could be narrowed down to the fact I’m not an American and I don’t fully understand the American lifestyle.

The entire book really showed the disconnection between the military and civil life in this modern day. Americans wants revenge for 9/11 but they are not willing to sacrifice their Thanksgiving football game. This was a powerful book and while it’s not as funny as Catch 22 it does leave you pondering life like Slaughterhouse-Five did for me. As I’ve stated I’m not expert in American life or politics but this did leave me pondering many aspects of this war on Terror.

The Dinner by Herman Koch

The Dinner By Herman Koch Here And Elsewhere

Title: The Dinner (Goodreads)
Author: Herman Koch
Translator:Sam Garrett
Published: Text, 2012
Pages: 309
Genre: Literary Fiction, Mystery
My Copy: Paperback

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Paul and Claire are going out to dinner with Paul’s brother and his wife. The reason for this isn’t the usual family get together, this time they have something important to discuss; their children. The characters, the overpriced restaurant and the secret is what makes The Dinner by Herman Koch this novel live up to the hype. This satirical book was already a best seller but until only recently this book was never available in English.

I have to admit I was really looking forward to reading this book for my local book club; but what I was getting into, I really didn’t know. The Dinner is dark elegant book that takes you on a journey with some very unexpected twists. At first glance this book felt like a very light and easy read and you will plow through this book so quickly that when something unexpected happens you won’t see it coming. The characters in the book seem very real and Paul’s brother and his wife remind me a lot of characters from a Bret Easton Ellis book; they are charismatic and ambitious but feel very shallow nihilists.

The restaurant was a brilliant backdrop for this book; it was one of those places you need to book months in advance and Paul’s brother Serge thought it sport to try and book a table for the same day. Fine dining at a pretentious restaurant really felt like the perfect location for the explosive events in this book, you get the sense that everyone should act calm and composed in a place like this but what’s happened doesn’t really go hand in hand with calm or composed.

I was really pleased with this book, I love the dark and satirical nature of the plot mixed with the fine dining experience, they come together to make a thrilling read. The Dinner is full of mayhem and you will be shocked with every course been served but there is so much more in this book, the characters are real and it will question your thoughts of the best way to raise your children. The thought provoking elements remind me of Christos Tsiolkas’ The Slap and this book finds the balance between mystery and family drama. A well developed novel that I highly recommend people read

Book Reviews The Yellow Birds

The Yellow Birds

Title: The Yellow Birds (Goodreads)
Author: Kevin Powers
Published: Hachette, 2012
Pages: 226
Genre: Literary Fiction
My Copy: Paperback

Buy: Amazon, Book Depository, Kindle (or visit your local Indie bookstore)

Haunted by Murph, The Yellow Birds follows the story of Private Bartle and his time served in Al Tafar, Iraq, the loss of a friend and the aftermath. Every war there seems to be one powerful book that is so heartbreaking but helps readers get an idea of the tragic nature of war; I’m thinking All Quiet on the Western Front, The Diary of a Young Girl, The Things They Carried, and now The Yellow Birds could quite possibly be the one to reflect the harsh reality of the Iraq War.

This is a book of friendship and loss; the novel is broken into two parts which are woven together. First there is the story of the friendship and serving together in the war and the other is of Private Bartle struggling to deal with the loss of his friend and returning from the war. There is a real beauty in the way Kevin Powers has melded the two together and the way he tries to help the reader understand the psychological mindset of a soldier turning from war. There is a wonderful part in the book where a bartender refers to Bartle as a hero and his reaction was basically ‘how can I be considered a hero if all I did was survive.’

I don’t want to sound to cliched with using words like beautiful, stunning, haunting and heart breaking but these words do seem very appropriate for this book. This is a debut novel for Kevin Powers and with his experience serving in the Iraq War and his poetry background, The Yellow Birds comes together for an emotional sensation. The proses of this novel are just wonderful and the characters really do seem to be well developed without showing too much.

I will admit I don’t read many war books but I’ve recently read two wonderful books on the Iraq war; this one and Billy Lynn’s Halftime Walk (review up in two days). While both books were wonderfully thought provoking they were in two very different ways. If The Yellow Birds doesn’t become the stand out book for the Iraq war; like All Quiet on the Western Front, The Diary of a Young Girl or The Things They Carried I have a feeling it might be compared to the psychological mindset of war along with Catch 22 or Slaughterhouse-Five. This truly is a stunning book that made me tear up and feel for the soldiers fight in Iraq. Everyone should read this book.