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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.

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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…

Divinity by Michelle L. Johnson

Synopsis:  When Julia climbs into a flaming car to save a trapped child, she’s left wondering why either of them survived. Then she learns that her father is the Archangel Gabriel, and that she is half human, half Archangel. With guidance from Michael, the most powerful Archangel, Julia sets out to discover her own history and explore her angelic powers. But her journey is cut short when an evil force, invisible to human and angel alike, tears her world apart. Now Julia must fight through her despair, harness her newfound gifts, and risk her very soul to stop the A’nwel and protect the family she never knew she had. What she doesn’t know is that Archangels have secrets too.

Review:  I’m usually always up for a good angel series.  I probably enjoy those second after vampire books.  So the premise of this one was particularly interesting.  The world building itself has a fair amount of potential.  I think some things could have been fleshed out a bit more because there were a few instances that felt like info-dumping to me.  There were some issues that may be hard to swallow for some readers, especially a certain plot point relating to domestic abuse. That topic has been hot in the media as of late (ie: the Ray Rice situation), so I found myself particularly invested in that outcome.  The author seemed to have quite a bit of knowledge about the situation so it played out realistically.

I wasn’t crazy about the romance aspect here. I actually think the book would have been fine without it. I just didn’t feel the chemistry between Julia and her boyfriend, and to be fair, when it comes to supernatural series I find that human book boyfriends are at a disadvantage by default (poor Nick from The Hollows never stood a chance for me honestly).  That said, I think there are other potential on the horizon there for future installments.  Overall, if you haven’t read a lot of angel novels then this will probably feel like a fresh read. While it wasn’t bad, for me it did lack a fresh factor, but I do think the next books could be promising. I would give a sequel a try because some of the characters were interesting and there are some interesting paths where this story can go.

*ARC provided in exchange for an honest review

About the author 

MichelleLJohnsonMichelle L. Johnson is the author of DIVINITY, a supernatural urban fantasy, and the author of THE FOOTLOOSE KILLER, a mystery. She’s also a literary agent, a coffee lover beyond reason, and has a fascination with the workings of the human mind.

Her key influences have been Stephen King, Anne Rice, and C.S. Lewis, but is inspired by every author to put pen to paper.

Michelle lives in Jacksonville, Florida with her muse and her rambunctious Cocker Spaniel, Sammy.

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Divinity-Michelle-L-Johnson-ebook/dp/B00MK3MJO0
Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/divinity-michelle-johnson/1119325816
Kobo: http://store.kobobooks.com/en-CA/ebook/divinity-8
Apple iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/divinity/id908946701?mt=11
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22117059-divinity

Follow the author on FB! https://www.facebook.com/MichelleL.Johnson
Stalk the author on Twitter! https://twitter.com/mjsretweet
Visit the author’s Website! http://www.michelleljohnson.us/

The Witch With No Name Giveaway! We have a winner!

0928141249I want to thank you all for entering! I wish I could give away a book to each and every one of you.  I also want to thank you for your patience in determining a winner. I actually started grad school this past week (while still working full time) and things have been super hectic and stressful. I haven’t been to school in years so I’m readjusting to the changes. I’m also a little worried about how well I’ll be able to keep up with the blogging because I do love reading, watching movies, and reviewing, but studying will have to come first. I still have a ton to do on that end, but I was determined to have a winner chosen before the weekend was out. And I have! Using the random number generator, the winner of the SIGNED copy of the final Hollows book, The Witch With No Name (The Hollows #13) is:

Raven

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 a special thanks to Ms. Kim Harrison herself for spreading the word about the giveaway and also providing those extra goodies you see in the picture there.  I read  every one of your comments as they came in! And I will be holding another giveaway later this week for another series if I can get some time to review the book first. And then hopefully I’ll do another one the week after as well. I’m getting pretty backed up on books to giveaway! And though this may be the last Hollows book, I don’t think this will be my last Hollows giveaway.  There’s a new short with our favorite, Big Al, coming out. Also this book will be out in mass market paperback as well so I’ll probably hold a giveaway then too. Anyway, stay tuned!

The Maze Runner Review

I’m a self-professed fan of Dylan O’Brien thanks to his fantastic performance on Teen Wolf. He is one of two reasons I watch that show at all (Tyler Hoechlin being the second reason). He appears to be the breakout star on that show with several movie credits to his name and now he has a new potentially successful franchise on his hands with The Maze Runner. The film is an adaptation of the first book in the trilogy. It follows Thomas, a teen who is placed in a community of boys after suffering memory loss.  Soon enough he realizes that they are trapped in a maze and they will all need to work together in order to make their way out to freedom.  But is freedom really the best option? What will it cost? What world waits them behind those gates?

I am someone that didn’t read the book for this film. I believe it was beneficial because I went in with no expectations. I was expecting something along the lines of your typical dystopian film (see The Hunger Games and Divergent) and that is more or less what I got, but that didn’t make it any less entertaining.  I thought the plot was easy enough to follow and the pacing was okay. I didn’t think it was too long or too short.  The performances of the actors were decent enough and I think Dylan carried the film well as a leading man.  The effects were well done though clearly they don’t have the same budget as The Hunger Games.

I definitely got Lord of the Flies vibes several times since the premise of abandoned boys growing up fast and making it on their own to survive is a strong plot point. But it has a new age spin on it with the supernatural elements.  If you’re sick of dystopian films then this movie probably won’t sway you to feel differently, but if you want a nice warmup before Mockingjay Part 1 comes out, then this film just might scratch that itch.  I think this film should be successful enough to warrant sequels. I just hope the third one isn’t split into two parts; that is clearly the trend these days when it comes to book trilogies.  Harry Potter is the only film of this current flock that rightly needed to be split. All of these other films are clearly just capitalizing on the brand and squeezing more money out of the fans. And we buy it hook, line, and sinker.

All in all the film is certainly watchable and I am hopeful that this is a good stepping stone for Dylan O’Brien to move onto bigger than better things than MTV. I don’t know if the general story interests me enough to pick up the books, but I will certainly watch the films! Onto the next one!

Kim Harrison Signing – Books-A-Million in Hanover Maryland – Overall Compilation

0911142013 I had a fantastic time at the Books-A-Million signing this last Thursday in Hanover, Maryland (DC/Baltimore area)! Though it was the final book the vibe all around was pretty good! All smiles.  I was very happy to only be #48 in line as opposed to #148 on up. Thank you, boss, for letting me leave work an hour early!

I met someone who attended the signing there a couple of years ago for A Perfect Blood and she confirmed that the line went into the 200s.  I was in the 130s back then so I suspected it did.  That just proves that there is definitely a demand for The Hollows and Kim Harrison here. It was yet another madhouse with tons of people and I’m glad DC/Baltimore wasn’t left out this time.  I would have trekked to New York Comic Con to make it happen though. I’ve been attending a signing for every book since Black Magic Sanction and I wasn’t going to miss out on the final book!  It was great reaching out to a fellow fans and I got to meet Janice, one of the blog followers here!

Kim oh so kindly shared the giveaway link on Facebook and when she saw the book she made sure to throw in a few extra goodies for the winner! So you’ll be getting more than just the book, whoever you are!

I finally got in on the T-shirt so I’m in the group photo.  Apparently Kim’s new series will NOT have t-shirts, but she and Guy finally figured out the most efficient system for the last one and now there won’t be any more! Go figure!

We also learned a little about the new series. I haven’t been able to follow all of the Q&As like I wanted to, but the new series will be a mix of Minority Report and The Jason Bourne series (two of my favorite film franchises), so it sounds really promising. Sounds like it will be way different from The Hollows, but it should be a good different.  To commemorate the end I have decided to put all of my signing pics on one page. I counted 7 in all!  Good times, good times!

 

Release Day Giveaway! Autographed Copy of The Witch With No Name (Hollows, #13) by Kim Harrison

So this is it! This is where we say goodbye to The Hollows!  And I have given away a copy of every new book since I started this blog so why in the heck would I stop now? You know I loves to spread the Hollows loves and feels! Don’t forget to check out my review and Kim’s exclusive Your Urban Fantasy Q&A! Also make sure you’ve voted on my poll to choose your favorite Hollows book!

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 THE 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 (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 going to miss about The Hollows series!
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The giveaway will run from 9/9/14 – 9/21/14. Good luck!
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The Witch With No Name (The Hollows, #13) by Kim Harrison – Thanks for the memories!

Synopsis:  It’s Rachel Morgan’s ultimate adventure . . . and anything can happen in this final book in the New York Times bestselling Hollows series.

Rachel Morgan has come a long way from her early days as an inexperienced bounty hunter. She’s faced vampires and werewolves, banshees, witches, and soul-eating demons. She’s crossed worlds, channeled gods, and accepted her place as a day-walking demon. She’s lost friends and lovers and family, and an old enemy has unexpectedly become something much more.

But power demands responsibility, and world-changers must always pay a price. Rachel has known that this day would come—and now it is here.

To save Ivy’s soul and the rest of the living vampires, to keep the demonic ever after and our own world from destruction, Rachel Morgan will risk everything. . . .

Review:  New Hollows Day is probably as good as Christmas Day for many of us.  Not to mention this one has come much sooner than expected!  But if I’m being honest, this is probably my toughest review yet.  It’s taken me so long to get it together because I just keep drawing a blank. Part of it is because this is the end of my favorite series ever.  But I have accepted that this must happen to all good things, or else they could risk not being so good anymore.

Kim Harrison brought this novel back around to be about the vamps. She made good on her promise compared to other recent books where they sat more on the back burner.  It appears to be for good reason though because vampires are the key to changing everything. There were some revelations that truly surprised me and the unpredictable twists kept me at the edge of my seat the whole time.

I was happy to see the demons and elves get a healthy dose of focus as well.   Over the years I have grown very attached to their story lines and was happy to see they wouldn’t have too many loose ends.

Rachel and Trent. Yeah, if you’re a fan I don’t see why that would stop now!  They display great teamwork and definitely turn up the heat as they’re settling into their relationship together.  It’s satisfying to see but still hard to believe it’s happened considering the long road they took to find one another.  Of course it still isn’t easy for them.  They have very complicated lives, but their determination to make it work just gives a girl all the feels in the world.

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Rachel takes her relationships seriously and her friends and family are as strong as ever.  We get the answer to the question  of whether she is able to save Ivy’s soul.  That alone is worth the price of admission if you’ve stuck it out with this series for as long as I have.

The thing is, I was expecting to have the waterworks ready after finishing this final book. I mean, I was expecting this
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9 years is the longest I’ve stuck it out with a series. But I finished it feeling satisfied and believing that the characters would be okay. Kim has done her characters justice and she should pat herself on the back for being able to give them what they deserve. And it truly feels deserved with a very fitting ending. They’ve worked hard and sacrificed so much.

I enjoyed every page from beginning to end in this last installment. We received a lot of answers and many things were wrapped up, but at the same time it also feels like a new beginning so I still want more! I just don’t know what I am going to do without my favorite witch, demon, elf, pixy, and vampire team to look forward to once a year.

And now I’m gonna lay the sap on extra thick. Honestly, reading for me won’t be the same again, at least for a while. This is the first series to really introduce me to the adult urban fantasy genre and it’s set the bar so high that nothing else can scratch that itch quite like The Hollows can. Everything else fights for second. This is the first series I have followed for so long so it will always carry a special place for me for that reason alone. Of course I’m looking forward to what’s next, but it’s always hard to say goodbye to history, especially as I’ve gone through the ups and downs with the characters year after year and made quite a few friends in my life along the way, including Ms. Harrison herself. So goodbye Hollows! Thanks for the ride! Thanks for the memories! Thank you, Kim Harrison! I’ll be first in line for your next book! In the meantime…

*ARC provided by the publisher.

*Review also posted to Goodreads and Amazon.