Dreamscape by Kirstin Pulioff

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Helllllo readers, today’s review is quite special to me because it was recommended by an author that she contact me. Being recommended by an author that you’re worth the wait for a review is an *over-the-moon* feeling. You want your blog to get to the point where people ask for reviews not only because you review alllll books but because they are good/solid reviews. It just makes it feel all the more special. Before I get too mushy, onto my review of Dreamscape.

Sixteen-year-old Alexis Stone is used to getting away from life’s frustration with Dreamscape, a video game she’s loved since childhood. As her family prepares to move, a sleepy night of gaming pulls her into the world like never before. Trapped in Dreamscape’s realm, Alex is about to learn that being a hero has consequences… and this time, the stakes are deadly. Will helping the rebellion cost her everything she knows and loves? Or will she betray them to save her own life?

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The more fantasy books I read the more I admire the genre as a whole; I don’t fully enjoy the genre yet, and I wouldn’t pick up a fantasy book as a choice in a book store but more books like this one could help me to really start reading this genre but extensively. As the blurb suggests the book follows Alex who is in a bit of a mess. Her family are planning the move from her childhood home and it’s the worse time possible. As she prepares to move her and her best friend decide to play their favourite childhood game, but after dark when she attempts the game again, she is pulled into the world of Dreamscape. Here she must battle the game again but without the cheats; will she succeed? Will she join the rebellion? Can she ever escape the game? In this fantasy story all will finally be revealed.

This isn’t your typical fantasy tale, here we explore a fantastical world but in the sense of the game ‘Dreamscape.’ I thought the descriptions of the games were evocative and rich helping to place us into the narrative background. Alex at the beginning is exasperatingly angry about having to move which I found infuriating but as the book progresses her character truly evolves into a warmer more intriguing character. I must admit I didn’t really fall for her in the way that I do, as in I desperately wanted her to succeed but it’s nice to watch her story and her journey develop. I thought in terms of this when she has to decide whether to face her role as the hero full on or use her ‘cheats’ and ‘shortcuts’ to leave the rebellion was an intriguing way to connect the game, and the difficulties that Alex is dealing with in her real life.

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In terms of the additional characters that we meet along the way I thought they were delightful. Arrow is writing with power as being the leader of the rebellion but he has a warmer kinder side to him whilst I thought that Melody was a deadly power female and wished we had learnt and heard more from her throughout. The writing as I mentioned briefly is strong; Alex seems everything in the game much more vividly and I thought the little changes between the game and reality helped to both connect both realities but also keep them separate. Also if you’re looking for castle, guards, missions, secret-missions, that’s all here too; all the standard game items as well.

In terms of problems the book doesn’t start with a bang, it starts quite slowly and with a lack of pace. It does pick up and for me I would keep reading for enough chapters to really get into the book but it was a little hard going. Although the characters are given interesting character profiles Alex to start with is whiny and irritating. As I’ve mentioned in the main review it’s okay because she changes so much as the novel progresses but at the beginning it does grate. Additionally the ending was, how can I put this? Disappointing? It made me angry as a reader because it just ends. The book works on a romantic storyline which is just dropped.

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Overall a book of two halves for me; writing is strong, starts slow but moves with pace. Characters are well worked but then the ending falls a little flat. I think overall this is a good fantasy reader for YA readers who like the genre. I thought the concept was really clever but a little more explanation with the ending and making Alex a more likeable character would have help me to utterly love this book.

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101 things in 1001 days: Learn to eat with chopsticks

101 things in 1001 days

Afternoon readers, hope you’re having a wonderful day. I haven’t blogged about my 101 things in 1001 days in a little while so I thought it was time to start writing them up and getting them blogged about. I have so many to talk to you about and I promise I will start writing them up so you can see all the wonderful things I’ve been up to!

Today’s 101 things in 1001 days is one that became apparent a little while ago when faced with the embarrassment of asking for a fork at a Chinese restaurant. Having a mother who really doesn’t like Chinese food and having a wonderful vegetarian as one of my closest friends, Chinese restaurants have never been a real problem for me. My only real experience is spooning it out of a foil case and digging in furiously in front of Masterchef or the like. It’s never really been an issue. However a couple of times in the past twelve months it’s happened a number of times where slightly disbelievingly I’ve had to cajole someone into supplying me with a fork. After starting the list this one was a little lower down on the priorities however after a rather embarrassing date  where I went a little pink when failing to pick up the little morsels of dim-sum without spilling it all over myself I realised this might be something that needed addressing.

So, installing a pair of chopsticks in the fridge almost in a permanent residence style situation I have mastered my own way of eating with chopsticks and yes it is with one hand. For the past six months give or take I have eaten almost everything in the fridge with chopsticks; some obvious including rice and noodles, and some a little less, pasta, pizza (that didn’t really work) grapes (they are a little fiddly) and even cereal. Yes, this has prompted a few odd looks, however it seems to have worked. I’m not saying that I’m an expert or even very good at all however a few weekends ago me and three of my closest friends went to a Chinese restaurant in Northampton called Felix Yu. Apart from a few spoons of rice I managed almost everything and honestly felt a little proud of my efforts. It’s something silly but once you get it, I think it’s something quite difficult to forget. Chopsticks: Done.

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The slant of light: Steve Wiegenstein

Good evening lovely, lovely readers! Sorry there are been less reviews up recently, I have been struggling (as always) to find enough time to write, read, work and socialise but here is another review for you to get your teeth into. Apologies that it has taken so much time to get up but I have been busy scheduling reviews and somehow this one got missed out! Organising my inbox is on my list of things to do! Additionally any comments anyone has or any questions about my thoughts on the book pop them in the comments box below as I am going out now to stuff my face and my tummy with wine and cheese fondue whilst watching the breakfast club. I am incredibly classy I promise. Hope you enjoy this darling review.

Set during the brink of the Civil War, this beautifully written novel traces James Turner, a charming, impulsive writer and lecturer; Charlotte, his down-to-earth bride; and Cabot, an idealistic Harvard-educated abolitionist as they are drawn together in a social experiment deep in the Missouri Ozarks. Inspired by utopian dreams of building a new society, Turner is given a tract of land to found the community of Daybreak: but not everyone involved in the project is a willing partner, and being the leader of a remote farming community isn’t the life Turner envisioned. Charlotte, confronted with the hardships of rural life, must mature quickly to deal with the challenges of building the community while facing her husband’s betrayals and her growing attraction to Cabot. In turn, Cabot struggles to reconcile his need to leave Daybreak and join the fight against slavery with his desire to stay near the woman he loves. As the war draws ever closer, the utopians try to remain neutral and friendly to all but soon find neutrality is not an option. Ultimately, each member of Daybreak must take a stand–both in their political and personal lives.

The book follows James Turner, notably a lecturer, who has written a utopian novel named Daybreak. It inspires a man from Missouri to donate land into the idea of creating a real life version of the book that Turner had written. Charlotte, a lovely but waif-like character immediately joins Turner hopeful to escape her sad home as well, with the two being joined by Adam Cabot who has links to the abolishment of the slave trade. The story hangs on the characterisation of these three characters as they work together and sometimes against each other in the hope of living the perfect Utopian life.

So anyone that has read my blog for a while or knows me personally will know that I am an absolute sucker for historical fiction in almost any shape or form. I love that it comes in so many shapes and sizes and even when two books explore and write about the same era they come out entirely differently! I think the genre is so versatile and although sometimes difficult to pull off, when done well it is truly wonderful. This book caught my eye because the cover is stunning and when I read the blurb and thought ‘I really don’t know a huge amount about this time in history,’ I was set for a brilliant read; and it honestly was. Learning about the utopian movement was a real learning curve for me and I liked how the writer contrasted the looming Civil War and the idea of a perfectly working society. I also really liked the time span it took on; it is not always known when reading a book how many days, weeks, years the plot contains but by setting it between 1857 and 1862 it allowed for a real in-depth plot line and allowed the author to really play around with the feelings and events of the characters.

The characters are all very well built up and the author really plays with the, creating diverse and interchangeable relationships that allowed the story to grow and increase pace. I really liked the romance that is stitched between the day to day running of the community and I thought it allowed each of the characters to get their time to shine. I found James a little cloying and thought that Charlotte came across a lot stronger as a character but their contrasting characteristics helped to give the story body. I found it compelling and a good contrast to the strong historical and political themes that were running through the main plot line. The secondary characters are given body which helps the book feel very real and you find yourself getting more immersed in the story line; look out especially for George Webb’s son and Sam Hildebrand who crop up throughout the story. I liked that the writing style wasn’t too over descriptive but instead suited the plot line much better than a flowery descriptive style would have.

Overall I really liked this historical fiction simply for its different and interesting plot line. As I have become a more involved reviewer I have found that books with originality are harder to come by. Notably this is why I read very little romantic fiction because you end up reading the same re-hashed story a number of times over. This book is like nothing I have read before and for that I implore you to purchase a copy and give it a read. I promise you won’t be disappointed!

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“You should nev…

“You should never read just for “enjoyment.” Read to make yourself smarter! Less judgmental. More apt to understand your friends’ insane behavior, or better yet, your own. Pick “hard books.” Ones you have to concentrate on while reading. And for god’s sake, don’t let me ever hear you say, “I can’t read fiction. I only have time for the truth.” Fiction is the truth, fool! Ever hear of “literature”? That means fiction, too, stupid.” — John Waters