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Giveaway Winner Selected! The Getaway God (Sandman Slim, #6) by Richard Kadrey

Thank you guys for entering and thank you for your patience! My first term is almost over so I’m looking forward to catching up on reading and reviewing! But I know what you’re all waiting for, the winner of this giveaway! And I won’t delay any further. The winner was randomly chosen to receive a copy of The Getaway God (Sandman Slim, #6) by Richard Kadrey is:

Michelle Willms

Congrats! Please keep an eye out for an email from me so that I can get your contact info.  Again, thank you all for participating.  More giveaways are to come! I’m keepin ‘em comin’!

Foxcatcher Review

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As a fan of Olympic sports, I was looking forward to this one.

This film is based on a true story centering around 1984 Olympic Champion Wrestler Mark Schultz and his quest to pursue another gold medal with the help of a new coach and sponsor, millionaire John du Pont. In his training for the 1988 games in Seoul, the presence of Mark’s revered brother and Olympic Champion, Dave Schultz complicates matters.

What I Liked: I went in knowing very little regarding the background of this story, which became essential for a few elements of surprise toward the end. I think the film did a decent job of portraying how a one-sided sibling rivalry can work. Though Mark (played by Channing Tatum) is the star and you feel bad for him because he wants to do nothing more than to overshadow his brother.

Dave (played by Mark Ruffalo) is very likeable so you find yourself rooting for the brothers to find a common ground. I liked that Dave’s intentions were always pure and that he worked to manage what is best for his family vs. what is best for his brother.

I thought it was interesting to touch upon how having achieved everything is still never enough for some people. An Olympic gold medal for a gymnast or a figure skater means guaranteed millions and instant fame, but other athletes tend to struggle financially. The story does a good job of expressing the importance of the need for success beyond only the medals. At the heart of it it’s a story behind the characters’ different needs for acknowledgement. John du Pont (played for Steve Carrell) has everything financially, but even as a middle-aged man he seeks approval and acknowledgment from his mother.

What I Didn’t Like: I thought the story ran a bit long for my tastes in the middle portion. I think the run time could have remained under 2 hours and the impact would have been just as effective. Channing Tatum, while I do love him as a personality, didn’t command the screen quite as well as Ruffalo or Carrell do. I think Carrell did a fine acting job at John du Pont, but the prosthetics were distraction occasionally. Nevertheless it was an effective departure from his typical comedic roles. I also feel like a bit more needed to be done to understand his character.

The ending didn’t actually resolve enough for me. I don’t know if this happened because it was based on a true story or not, but I was left with several questions that maybe have exceeded my knowledge.

Overall: The story had a few interesting moments, but there was an intensity missing to completely bring me in. I would have liked a better moral to the story. If you don’t see it in theatres, it’s at least worthwhile to read about. It is certainly not a film that will leave you feeling inspired though; in fact by the end I was left feeling fairly Hollow. But I suppose not every tale can be a fairytale.

Rating: 3/ 5 Stars

Note:  My review will also be posted to The Grand Shuckett.

Interstellar is Stellar!

interstellarHey guys! My review can also be found at The Grand Shuckett for this film.

A vulnerable earth with its people on the brink of extinction leads to a group of NASA explorers seeking out a newly discovered wormhole to find the next best viable planet for the people of earth.

What I Liked:
The best part of this film for me was that I went in with fairly low expectations. I didn’t seek out a lot of information about it in the press and there hasn’t been an overwhelming amount of publicity for it either. So going in with those expectations led to the film exceeding them drastically. Clocking in at nearly three hours leaves room for a lot of story and a with a surprise all-star cast (at least it was for me), it takes full advantage of this. While I don’t pretend to be the next Neil DeGrasse Tyson, I did enjoy how well it appeared to tie in Einstein’s theory of relativity as well as other advanced scientific concepts. Unlocking the potential makes the impossible possible and that’s what they are chasing. I thought the film was ambitious and layered and found it plenty suspenseful as it walked that fine like between confirming whether or not the phenomena are a result of man, another species, or a divine higher power.

The film in IMAX doesn’t look incredibly impressive on the screen, however the sound is what you’ll benefit from as the most immersive experience. All of the scenes in the spaceship are incredibly loud and it literally shake the room. You feel like you’re right there with them in the ship.

What I Didn’t Like: The story itself I liked quite a bit. However many of the characters themselves fall a bit flat for me sometimes. Matthew McConaughey delivered a strong performance as Cooper, and his young daughter does too. Everyone appeared to have a purpose, however I could have done with less to make the story even tighter. The pacing was okay, but for me it did start slowly. I wasn’t gripped until after the first hour. But what it has in its corner is that it builds to the point where by the end you are on pins and needles about what will happen next.

Visually it is not as impressive to look at, especially compared to the likes of Gravity, but the story is way more interesting. I’m looking forward to seeing it again to pick up on things I may have missed.

Overall: If you love Nolan films then this is a must see. It is right in line with his style. I was able to accurately predict a few plot twists, but that made it all the more fun. I think this is now one of my favorite films of his, though I’ll always remain partial to The Prestige, which is still my #1 favorite (hard to compete with Christian Bale AND Hugh Jackman for me).

Rating: 4.5 / 5 Stars

REVIEW + GIVEAWAY! The Getaway God (Sandman Slim, #6) by Richard Kadrey

Synopsis: Sandman Slim must save himself-and the entire world-from the wrath of some enraged and vengeful ancient gods in this sixth high-octane adventure. Being a half-human, half-angel nephilim with a bad rep and a worse attitude-not to mention temporarily playing Lucifer-James Stark aka Sandman Slim has made a few enemies. None, though, are as fearsome as the vindictive Angra Om Ya-the old gods. But their imminent invasion is only one of Stark’s problems right now. LA is descending into chaos, and a new evil-the Wildfire Ripper-is stalking the city.

No ordinary killer, The Ripper takes Stark deep into a conspiracy that stretches from Earth to Heaven and Hell. He’s also the only person alive who may know how to keep the world from going extinct. The trouble is, he’s also Stark’s worst enemy . . . the only man in existence Stark would enjoy killing twice.

Review: This was my first time reading a Sandman Slim novel as well as anything by Richard Kadrey despite hearing this series and his name pop up from time to time.  Yeah, I’m starting a little late in the game, but I’ll take what I can get!  Color me impressed!  I really enjoyed this world and characters. Kadrey has quite the imagination when it comes to the powers and abilities of his supporting characters and his central character, James, as well.  I started reading it feeling like there was plenty of back story given so I didn’t really feel lost. However, as I read a bit more I do think there were things I would understand better had I read the other 5 books when it came to species, their abilities, and their interrelationships with other species and James.  Even still, there is enough new material for me to follow along without much issue.  They do reference the past a lot so it’s nice to see another series that does a good job of building on itself.  I was intrigued enough by the plot and enjoyed this story enough that I do plan to go back and read the others! Candy (James’s demon girlfriend) is really cool. I like her personality a lot and can see how well it works with his character as well.  The world-building is fantastic, thorough,  and consistent. This particular book wasn’t very dark for me but I hear that this series takes a bunch of very dark turns in the prequel novels, so color me intrigued.

I am coming off of reading the complete Dresden files earlier this year so a few elements made me think back to that series, but this series has plenty to stand apart on its own as well. I was engaged from beginning to the end.  I feel like readers of The Dresden Files and Kate Daniels in particular would really like this one too.  There are plenty of quotable passages, very funny ones.  I’ll share one of my favorites:

“I throw back the cup of tea. It tastes like hot swamp water filtered through a baboon’s ass.”

So yes, overall I enjoyed it and look forward to reading the rest of the novels in this series. Looks like I have another marathon planned for 2015!

Giveaway

Do you want a copy of my book? Well, you might be in luck!  One lucky winner of my blog will receive a hardcover copy of the novel! Just tell me if you’re a Richard Kadrey fan or a new reader and what you like about his books, what I can look forward to in some of his other novels, or what you’re looking forward to as a new reader.

How to Enter (PLEASE READ CAREFULLY): My giveaways are only open to followers of Your Urban Fantasy who are 18 years of age or older. In order to enter YOU MUST COMMENT ON THIS ANNOUNCEMENT POST AND INDICATE YOU HAVE DONE SO ON THE RAFFLECOPTER WIDGET! If you’re a new member, sign up on the right panel to follow my blog via email. (Make sure to check your email to confirm your subscription. You should receive a notification immediately, so check your spam folder if you don’t see it right away). Current followers can just say so in their post. The next four opportunities are for bonus entries. Overall, there are up to 5 chances to enter:

  1. Follow this blog via email and comment based on my specifications mentioned before (THIS IS REQUIRED)
  2. Like my review on Amazon (bonus entry)
  3. “Like” Your Urban Fantasy on Facebook (bonus entry)
  4. Follow me on Twitter (bonus entry)
  5. Tweet about the giveaway (bonus entry – you can do this daily for more entries)

The more entries the better your chance to win! Good luck! And don’t forget to comment!  

The giveaway will run from 10/27/14 – 11/9/14. Good luck!
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Ouija Review

I did a guest review for my friends over at The Grand Shuckett for this one; however, I will post it here as well.

Halloween is right around the corner! And with that comes a string of scary films opening in theatres. With Ouija receiving the most promotion this was an easy pick for me.

The title of the film, Ouija, leaves little to the imagination of the general plotline. For the most part we understand the purpose behind the use of a Ouija board; it’s to summon spirits that have passed on. That’s the premise of this film, except Debbie (Shelley Hennig from Teen Wolf) gets more than she bargained for when she uncovers an old one in her attic. She inadvertently summons a spirit at the cost of her own life. Her closest friend, Laine (Olivia Cooke), unable to wrap her mind around it seeks to figure out the circumstances surrounding her best friend’s death. She discovers the mysterious Ouija board and with it she recruits their closest friends to help summon Debbie’s spirit in order to find out answers. But is she summoning Debbie, or being that’s taken her?

What I Liked: I’m not really easy to scare, especially when it comes to horror films. So while I didn’t find this film particularly frightening, I did laugh quite a bit. To be honest, the audience in general was laughing a lot and that helped make it a slightly more entertaining experience. There were a few unsuspected scenes that made the audience jump in their seats more than I did, but for the most part I spent my time laughing at those moments.

What I didn’t like: If you’re interested in a compelling a horror story then this isn’t or you. This film treads no new ground whatsoever. As I said, I spent most of my time laughing at the film, and I don’t believe it was intentional, but it was the only thing that saved it from being a complete bore fest. The film is under 90 minutes so it’s short but it lasts long enough. To be honest, when the MPAA slaps a PG-13 rating on a horror film, what can you really expect? While there is a tiny short list of exceptions, in general these films tend to hold back a lot more compared to their R-rated counterparts and rely much more heavily on the standard clichés, especially when they star actors that aren’t well known. So far I would say The Ring remains the most effectively creepy PG-13 film I’ve seen, but that had Naomi Watts.

I’ve seen better horror films already this year, and apparently other audience members did too. Without spoiling too much, there is a certain scene in the film that caused one person in the crowd to belt out “Annabelle!! Annabelle!” That ended up being the best part of the entire evening, but I don’t know what that says about the creative merits of this film. I think viewers in search for real horror are better off perusing the horror section on Netflix, RedBox, or OnDemand than giving this one any of your precious time.

 

Giveaway Winner Selected! Chained by Night (MoonBound Clan Vampires #2) by Larissa Ione

Thank you guys for entering and thank you for your patience! Between wonky internet connections and grad school work it’s been a little hard to get around to blogging stuff but I have a few things coming up this week!  But I know what you’re all waiting for, the winner of this giveaway! And I won’t delay any further.  The winner was randomly chosen to receive a copy of Chained by Night (MoonBound Clan Vampires #2) by Larissa Ione is:

ezinwanyi

Congrats! Please keep an eye out for an email from me so that I can get your contact info.  Again, thank you all for participating.  And please stay tuned because I have another giveaway coming up this week! I’m keepin’ em comin’!

No Good Deed Review

Plot: An unstable escaped convict terrorizes a woman who is alone with her two children.

Review: There isn’t anything in particular that’s groundbreaking about the film. It was mostly predictable the whole way through. I think Idris Elba and Taraji P. Henson brought the star power, but they provided little else. That’s not to say that it doesn’t have its creepy moments. The film is suspenseful and the audience seemed to be buying it, but overall it’s rather forgettable. I’m sure many were more interested in Elba taking his shirt off. It was certainly met with cheers, hoots, and hollers. I’d love to see how some of those women would act while seeing Magic Mike 2; he was rather tame in comparison to that.

I do enjoy both actors and I cringe that the movie poster tries to market this film with their academy award and golden globe achievements. Idris Elba is attached to some of my favorite films and TV shows (ie: The Wire, Thor), I was looking forward to it because he doesn’t really play villainous roles often anymore. I wanted to see if he could branch out and be more dynamic than his character on The Wire. He isn’t really the problem with the film; it’s the material he has to work with. I was hoping for a more layered character because they make the best bad guys and they always have.

Taraji Henson, well she’s actually a cousin of one of my cousins (though I’m not blood-related to her directly myself), so I always wish her well due to that family connection. She has been attached to some great projects too (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button comes to mind), so I just feel like both of these actors are better than this. Her character was a little too meek for my tastes. She’s a lawyer turned housewife, so I think she should have been more argumentative and assertive, especially when dealing with her husband.

The climax of the film provides most nail biting moments. We finally see Henson attempts at gaining the upper hand. As a lawyer, it’s established that she’s supposed to be a highly intelligent person so she is a little craftier than your average victim in these types of romps. The were still a few “Don’t go in there! Don’t’ do that!” moments that we in the reading world have coined “TSTL” (too stupid to live), but those were relegated to supporting characters more often, likely to maintain some character consistency.

Home invasion films in general are hit and miss. I feel like this genre has been done to death so it’s hard to come up with anything fresh these days. Who can match Robert DiNero’s performance in Cape Fear? I’ll give you a moment to think about it.

The film is entertaining, but definitely not worth a full price of admission. I would recommend renting it at best, but you really aren’t missing much…except a shirtless Idris Elba. But rest assured you can probably find that in several other places.

As Above, So Below Review

When a team of explorers ventures into the catacombs that lie beneath the streets of Paris, they uncover the dark secret that lies within this city of the dead.

At first glance this film seemed like yet another found footage horror film, just with a really cool poster this time.  I wasn’t expecting anything new or exciting.  The Blair Witch Project meets Tomb Raider was what I was thinking about.  And that is pretty much what I got, but it was surprisingly very entertaining! The central character, Scarlett (played by Perdita Weeks) is actually a Brit too with long brown hair, just like Lara Croft! It’s like it was fate! Not to mention her vast knowledge of history and the artifacts the encounter throughout the film.  It felt like a horror adventure. Honestly, the only thing she was missing was a pair of guns.

I’m not easy to scare, but even I have to admit that there were several moments when I jumped in my seat.  Some moments were probably unintentionally funny as well, but I’m convinced that they make it that way on purpose.  The intensity was pretty top-notch and the scenes felt realistic, yet with supernatural elements that made them effectively creepy too.  There were certainly moments when the characters made decisions that would deem them too stupid to live, but what horror film doesn’t have that? At this point I just try to guess how stupid the character will be. I thought this film handled it cleverly in a few instances.  A lot of what happens is also psychological in that the explorers’ past events come back to haunt them.  This was pretty interesting and would have been a great device to develop the characters to be somewhat more significant than cannon fodder, but with the limited run time there’s only enough for us to get a glimpse into who they are (or were).

The film takes place in France so the foreign aspect was nice.  And because they were touring catacombs it felt extremely claustrophobic.  The camera angles were well placed giving us that true first person POV feel when the editing called for it.  I think the ending may have turned off a few people but I was more or less fine with it.  I am not sure if this film will do well enough to warrant a sequel or if it even needs one based on the plot, but I enjoyed the story.  It delivered on what I was expecting and then some.  It may be too late to catch this one in the theatres. I thought the release date was a little odd considering that this would be a good October release, but it’s definitely worth a rental.

Giveaway! Chained by Night (MoonBound Clan Vampires #2) by Larissa Ione

Synopsis: Leader of the vampire clan MoonBound, Hunter will do what he must to save his people from extinction – or worse, a torturous eternity as vampire slaves and subjects of human experimentation. To keep his enemies at bay, he has agreed to mate a rival clan leader’s daughter in return for peace between the clans and an ally in the looming war with the humans.

But survival comes at a price. First, Hunter must break an ancient curse by successfully negotiating three deadly tests. Then he must resist the searing passions of the gorgeous vampire warrior he despises but is bound to mate. Will Hunter stay true to his word? Or will he risk everything for the woman he really loves: the vampire seductress’s identical twin sister?

Review: Bound by Night (MoonBound Clan Vampire, #1)  was my first foray into the writing of Larissa Ione. I was familiar with a few of her other established works (Demonica and Lords of Deliverance to be exact), but this series was attractive since I could start from the top and not get too behind.  I enjoyed the first one more than I was expecting to so I was really looking forward to this one.  Overall this was another entertaining entry, but I did miss some of the wit and humor found in the first one. This was more angsty for sure.

We learn more about Hunter’s character as he takes center stage, but Ryker and Nicole are still integral characters to this plot.  I wasn’t totally sure how I was going to feel about the twin sister fiasco. It sounded too much like a text book soap opera storyline, but it wasn’t so bad. It’s still not my favorite way to go about things, but it didn’t ruin the story.  There was this one scene that totally reminded me of Beauty and the Beast and I found it thoroughly enjoyable (it’s one of my top 3 Disney films if you didn’t know that about me ~_^). I found some side characters a bit more interesting than the main couple, but the good thing about these books is that those characters will get central focus in future entries.  Ione has certainly piqued my interest there.  So with that said I am looking forward to the next one. I wish these were published twice a year instead of once.  Overall the world is pretty interesting and there’s still a lot more to explore when it comes to the the dynamics between humans and vampires.

*Copy provided by publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Giveaway

Do you want a copy of my book? Well, you might be in luck!  One lucky winner of my blog will receive my copy of the novel! Just tell me if you’re a Larissa Ione fan or a new reader and what you like about her books or what you’re looking forward to as a new reader.

How to Enter (PLEASE READ CAREFULLY): My giveaways are only open to followers of Your Urban Fantasy who are 18 years of age or older. In order to enter YOU MUST COMMENT ON THIS ANNOUNCEMENT POST AND INDICATE YOU HAVE DONE SO ON THE RAFFLECOPTER WIDGET! If you’re a new member, sign up on the right panel to follow my blog via email. (Make sure to check your email to confirm your subscription. You should receive a notification immediately, so check your spam folder if you don’t see it right away). Current followers can just say so in their post. The next four opportunities are for bonus entries. Overall, there are up to 5 chances to enter:

  1. Follow this blog via email and comment on your preference to win the ebook or hardcover (THIS IS REQUIRED)
  2. Like my review on Amazon (bonus entry)
  3. “Like” Your Urban Fantasy on Facebook (bonus entry)
  4. Follow me on Twitter (bonus entry)
  5. Tweet about the giveaway (bonus entry – you can do this daily for more entries)

The more entries the better your chance to win! Good luck! And don’t forget to tell me what you’re most looking forward to in this book! 

The giveaway will run from 10/7/14 – 10/19/14. Good luck!
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Guest Post – The Missing Angel by Michelle L. Johnson

MichelleLJohnsonSomething that people may notice while reading Divinity is that while there are seven Archangels mentioned, there are actually only six who appear in the book.

I had toyed with the idea of Lucifer being the seventh, just that he’d been outcast and is no longer part of the Divine world. But I think when Lucifer gets outcast he is no longer a part of the Divine system either.

So where is the seventh Archangel, and who is it?

Her name is Hephastiel (pronounced Heh-fah-stee-el). She’s a blacksmith and a loner. She doesn’t consider herself part of the flock even though that tie has never been severed. She has some anger management issues, possibly due to the one half of her right wing not working, and that is why she claims to hide away – to spare the others her ire. But she hides only from the other angels.

She is an amazing craftsperson, and often drops down to earth to walk among the humans. Everywhere she goes the arts flourish and one can see her influence in many museums, famous chapels, symphonies, and more. It may very well be that when artists refer to their muse, Hephastiel has been around.

In the sequel to Divinity, Hephastiel will have a role of grave importance.

If I were to cast a movie star to play Hephastiel, I would choose Viola Davis.

viola davis

Of course, she wouldn’t be on the phone in the book, but she’d probably have that look right there on her face. At least, she would if she were talking to Gabriel. But that’s their story to tell…