Sunday, February 27, 2011

Book Review: RJ Scott - The Heart of Texas

Book Review: RJ Scott - The Heart of Texas

A story of oil tycoons and Texan aristocracy. With a hint of arson, an unconventional wedding and heart breaking secrets comes a story full of twists and endearing characters. R.J. Scott has returned with the latest in her ever growing list of gay romance titles and this one is as sure to fly off the shelves as her previous stories.

Welcome to the story of the Hayes and Campbell family. Long time rivals and completely at odds with each other due to the sins of both fathers. These sins become more apparent as the story progresses.
From a son and heir (Riley Hayes) who feels cheated when it comes to dividing up the family company, he devises a plan to get back at his father and get his share. The dividing of the shares is in a contract and states that Riley must marry for love and stay married for one year. Welcome to the unconventional wedding and the perfect way to get back at his father.

Enter dashing young rancher Jackson Campbell. Riley’s husband-to-be. The contract didn’t state the gender of Riley’s spouse. The interaction between the young men is interesting to say the least. To start with anyways. The beauty of Scott’s work is the sheer indulgence in watching the characters mature in the words that lie before you.

The story has multiple other characters including mothers, sisters, nieces and brothers. The story is littered with plots and sub-plots which all tie in together with one sharp twist towards the end of the story. The book is skilfully written and thoroughly addictive. There is a certain joy from sitting to read such stories when there are so many books out there where, at the end, one can’t help but roll their eyes at the drivel that some poor publisher decided to print.

Scott’s work is its own legacy. Be warned though, this isn’t a romance story that you will buy your grandmother. The story does contain explicit sex scenes. While they are not a dire part of the book, they certainly increase the reading pleasure... if you’re into that sort of thing.

The story is a great addition to Scott’s list of titles and worth the money spent to purchase it.

The Heart of Texas is out now through Silver Publishing

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Game Review: Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood

Game Review: Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood

Unleashed on the world is the stunning third party of the Assassin's Creed story. We revisit Desmond Miles as he sifts through his genetic memory and revisits Ezio Auditore Da Firenze.

The story line keeps just as captivating and riveting as the previous two games and is well worth the time that it will take to sit and play the entire game through. With core memories, side memories, romance and gore, Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood is an amazing piece in the mosaic that is being written.

There are new features in this game including the long awaited crossbow, guns and the ability to whistle for a horse when you're too lazy to walk. The basic game commands are still the same and high and low profile moves and skills that have been learnt in the first two games still being put into affect. There is more Desmond time this game as well. It's interesting to watch how Enzio's skills 'bleed' through the animus and Desmond picks them up and starts to use them.

This time around, you are able to save citizens who then become recruits and new assassins. You are able to delegate contracts and upgrade the recruits weapons and armor along with your own. When doing your own upgrades in this game there are a series of 'shop quests' which much be completed to unlock certain items. It comes to a basic concept of 'loot everything you can'.

For those who are worried, Ubisoft haven't lost their touch with this installment as the game is as violent as ever. Perhaps more so now with the added inclusion of being able to turn the blood effects on and off through the main menu. Also in the main menu now is the option to leave the animus and interact with the others on your team. Don't forget to go exploring... you can find some cool stuff.

In Assassin's Creed II, the Armor of Altaïr was the be all and end all armor. This time around, we have the Armor of Brutus. It's doesn't look half as impressive as Altaïr's but is still quite effective when it comes to protecting Enzio though you will need to get it repaired after a couple of nasty brawls.

The game play is about what you would expect from the series but now, to fully synchronize with your ancestor's memories, you have to complete your tasks with guidelines that are specifically set up Ubisoft. There is no negotiation about this, if you don't do it their way, you don't get the benefits of fully synching. It's quite irritating and does put a dampener on the enjoyment of the game as some of the tasks that are set cannot be done by a casual gamer in the manner that Ubisoft wants - for example going through a maze with no guidance in under 8 minutes when it is quite hard to see where you are to go doesn't work. Tasks like that are set for the hardcore gamers not people who play for a few hours on the weekend. They have also made the tasks incredibly pedantic. Timing out on a task because you weren't standing half an inch to the right is a joke. Whoever wrote that either is incredibly anally retentive or has no girlfriend. Perhaps both.

All in all, the game was as enthralling as the previous two and has left fan's crying for more. Fear not, Ubisoft announced last year that Assassin's Creed IV will be out in 2011. No word yet on if it will be Enzio again or will stay solely focused on Desmond as he races to beat Abstergo.

Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood is out now.

Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood Assassin's Creed II 

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Lady Gaga - Born This Way

New Song Alert: Lady Gaga - Born This Way

Yes, the new music from one of today's kookiest stars is here. Lady Gaga has released her synth heavy masterpiece Born This Way.

At first listen it sounds like Express Yourself by Madonna but when you listen, it's a bit more anthemic than that. With a strong beat and energetic delivery, it doesn't take long to hear the differences between Madonna's song and this new piece of music by Gaga.

When Gaga promised a gay anthem to rival I Am What I Am she wasn't kidding. The lyrics are politically orientated and Gaga has gone all out to make sure she has an amazing song on her hands.

From the 80's inspired electronica and synth that features heavily throughout the track to hearing Gaga's vocals belting out her own anthem, this is going to be a high charting hit for the songstress.

Enough talking, here's the audio version - you tell us what you think?

Monday, February 7, 2011

Music Review: Bruno Mars - Doo-Wops and Hooligans

Music Review: Bruno Mars - Doo-wops and Hooligans

Here at Talking Reviews, we usually attempt to keep our finger on the pulse with good music and let you know. This time, it would appear, we let one little gem slip by us. Bruno Mars album Doo-Wops and Hooligans is the debut album of Bruno Mars. Slick and eargasmic, the album is an amazing piece of music that has been playing non-stop at Review HQ since it's discovery.

By now, everyone knows Grenade. Those who don't know it have obviously not been listening to the radio in recent times. Every station you tune into seems to have picked up the song for one reason or another. Mostly because of it's amazing talent and undeniably addictive sound.

You saw the Glee episode where they featured Just The Way You Are. Yes, the actors on the show can sing but Mars leaves there rendition for dead. The inspiring song is full of confidence boosting lyrics and lush melodies  which are almost reminisce of Craig David. Y'know, back when he was still popular. A pleasant trip down the R&B river. 

The smooth R&B flavour continues with Our First Time. It's a stunning piece that plays gently and relaxing. There is nothing offensive about this song. It blends nicely into the background. It's slow pace and relaxed tones make this song just easy to kick back and relax to. It's a track to watch and certainly get your hands on. It's almost a bubble bath with chocolate covered strawberries and champagne. If you're into that sort of thing.

Runaway Baby brings a new aspect to the album. It's got a healthy upbeat tempo with a bit of funk and groove in there. Mars shows his true vocal talents throwing this track in. It's got a bit of a stomping rock feel with vocals that sound like something akin to melted chocolate. It's refreshing and irrefutably amazing. A grabbing piece of music to infuse into your day.

Keeping the up-tempo trend in line is the other Glee song, Marry You. With Mars' trademark groove and smooth vocal delivery, there's even a hint of Beach Boys-esque backing music. This would be an amazing track for a beach wedding. Needless to say, this is going to be played at a lot of wedding in the coming years. Don't look like that, you  know it's true. The infectious music, the slick lyrics and enticing voice. It's everything a wedding night will be. Just remember, sock on the door knob.

Liquor Store Blues is the first of two collaborations. The reggae feel to the track is a little out of place compared to the rest of the album. This isn't to say that it's not a great track. The track features Damian Marley who does his own style of rapping. Yes, this is the youngest son of legendary Bob Marley. The two individually are creators of great music. Together, they are epic.

The track Count On Me sounds like something that we would expect from Jason Mraz. Here at Review HQ, we see this as a good thing. The indie feel of the track and relaxing vocal stylings are a bit playful and very addictive. The track can be played several times over without getting bored and without the track losing any of it's shine. The track is catchy, chilled and will get your head bopping from side to side.

The second, and last, collaboration is The Other Side which features Cee Lo Green and BOB. The song itself is quite hard to describe. It's got smooth melodies. It's got a bit of rock in there. It's got a bit of pop. The song has something that will appeal to everyone. There's just something about this track that makes it just standout from the others. Whether it be the collaborative input from all three, it's catchy. Maybe it's the eager rapping or maybe it's the mix of everything. Needless to say, this is an absolute highlight of the album.

Closing the album is Talking to the Moon (Acoustic Piano Version). Hearing Mars' voice with such a pure sound is just magic. The way the piano and his voice work together. It sounds like a stripped back and raw version. The effect is just breath taking. Hearing Mars sound so honest is just amazing. Lose yourself in the majesty of the song. Let it was over you. It is, truly amazing.

Doo-Wops and Hooligans is amazing. There are no other words for it and here at Reviews HQ, we can't believe that it slipped by without us noticing. It's exciting and fresh. It's endearing and enduring. It's actually got talent and sets the scene that we may have Bruno Mars hanging around on the scene for longer than we originally thought. This album is truly amazing and gets by without mass amounts of post-production work.

Doo-Wops and Hooligans is out now.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Book Review: RJ Scott - The Christmas Throwaway

Book Review: RJ Scott – The Christmas Throwaway

One of the most heart-warming stories to have been released in a long time. It’s also one of the most heart breaking. RJ Scott is well known for her emotive writing but this time, she has pulled out all stops and made it into something truly beautiful.