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Silver Shadows (Bloodlines #5) by Richelle Mead

Synopsis:  In The Fiery Heart, Sydney risked everything to follow her gut, walking a dangerous line to keep her feelings hidden from the Alchemists.

Now in the aftermath of an event that ripped their world apart, Sydney and Adrian struggle to pick up the pieces and find their way back to each other. But first, they have to survive.

For Sydney, trapped and surrounded by adversaries, life becomes a daily struggle to hold on to her identity and the memories of those she loves. Meanwhile, Adrian clings to hope in the face of those who tell him Sydney is a lost cause, but the battle proves daunting as old demons and new temptations begin to seize hold of him. . . .

Their worst fears now a chilling reality, Sydney and Adrian face their darkest hour in this heart-pounding fifth installment in the New York Times bestselling Bloodlines series, where all bets are off.

Review:  I came in prepared not to really like this book. I thought we’d get a ton of drama in order to set up for a satisfying resolution in book 6.  And considering how amazing The Fiery Heart was (it still gives me the feels if you’re wondering)
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let’s just say that to top that book for me would have been a very tall order.  There were definitely things to like about this book.  Once again we’re treated to both Adrian and Sydney’s points of view.  Sydney’s resolve is refreshing and it’s just epically amazing how much she and Adrian rely on each other for strength.  He’s a lost puppy without her but turns into an amazing character with her. They are the definition of being the better half of each other and Mead has done a great job of building them up without it becoming overly saccharine. It’s the big difference between having a whole series to develop a relationship as opposed to one book.  And because of that certain developments that would normally irk me felt right.  I won’t say much more but I promise the developments are huge, though not completely out of left field.

I did miss the presence of Jill and the others but I understood that it would be difficult to focus on their problems in this book. But because of that the tone felt so different to me and I didn’t know if it was for the better until later in the novel.  Sydney had to rely on what she’s learned up until now without the support of her witch teacher, Ms. Terwilliger so we really see her begin to grow into her own when it comes to her powers.  Adrian ups the ante too with his magic use, pushing himself to the limits.  I felt there were a couple of missed opportunities for the consequences of him pushing himself that far though.

Other than that, the pacing of this book was a little off for me.  More or less, I would have preferred what happens at the 70% mark to have started at the 50% mark if not a little sooner.  By that point I couldn’t put the book down and was left wanting so much more.  But now we have to wait and I don’t wanna!
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Though the plot for this book wraps up we do get a major cliffhanger that appears to be the plot of the final installment. Before the 70% mark I was thinking of giving this one a 4, but I just can’t after that point. So I can say it’s a 4.5 and round up.  This series is still firmly in my #1 favorite YA/NA series spot.  Though I am not crazy about the cover design of this one or the 4th book, and I don’t know what happened since the first 3 were really nice.

Next up is the final Lux novel which happens to be my second favorite.  So I’m on a roll and don’t stop me now!

If you’re on Amazon and Goodreads, please feel free to like my reviews there!

*Review on Amazon.
*Review on Goodreads.

 

 

The Purge Anarchy Review

A couple are driving home when their car breaks down just as the Purge commences. Meanwhile, a police sergeant goes out into the streets to get revenge on the man who killed his son, and a mother and daughter run from their home after assailants destroy it. The five people meet up as they attempt to survive the night in Los Angeles.

It should come as no surprise that this story got a sequel.  The original was a surprise box office smash, especially in comparison to its anemic $3 million budget.  While I like the concept of the first film (not philosophically of course, just as an interesting movie plot), I didn’t really like it overall and the budget was part of the problem.  It felt like I was watching “Panic House” more than anything and the ending was disappointing.

Fortunately, The Purge: Anarchy was a better finished product.  It was what the first film should have been.  The budget was bigger and the cast was bigger, allowing the overall scale to be bigger.  Of course it wasn’t a massive production, but they definitely stretched their $9 million budget as far as possible and I was more entertained than some films with 10 times that budget (Pompeii, I’m looking at you…).

I was familiar with several actors this time around which was a nice surprise. Frank Grillo, the protagonist anti-hero, has been on a roll lately. I remember him from Guiding Light in the 90s, but more recently he’s been moving up with his crucial supporting role in Captain America: The Winter Soldier (still my favorite movie of the year if anyone was wondering), and now we get to see him be a total badass here at 51 years young. And I mean “young” because you’d never guess that was his age by looking at him.  His character spends most of the time being shrouded in mystery to his reluctant companions so that added to the tension among the cast.  You could never really tell if he was going to ultimately do the right thing.  Michael K. Williams (The Wire and Boardwalk Empire) is a favorite actor of mine and I thought he handled his role as a resistance leader very well.  I wish he had more screen time and we got to see a little more from his perspective, but he was effective enough.

This film focuses more on how The Purge affects people of all social classes and their motivations can be surprisingly different, so there were some moments I found thought-provoking.  It’s a morbid social experiment played out on screen but you can’t help but wonder, what if our lives were really like this? What would you do? It’s a great film for discussion. I would probably try to leave the country but imagine the mass exodus around Purge time and the skyrocketing ticket prices. And how would you protect your property or loved-ones?  It’s easy to yell at the screen when someone makes a stupid decision, but would you do the same thing in their shoes?  Would it change the country’s life expectancy? How does the country adjust to losing a large portion of the population in one fell swoop? What is the average death toll? As I said, it makes me wonder.

This film is not for everybody.  I took it for what it was and it exceeded my expectations. I could probably watch this film again when it makes it to television.  If you saw the first one then I definitely recommend this one as it’s an all around better film.

San Diego Comic Con 2014! Part 1 – Wednesday/Thursday

Instead of one massive post about the best week of the summer, I’m going to split it up this time.  Yeah, this might be an old hat for me but every year there is something new to do and something cooler to experience!

We got to stay at the Hilton Bayfront this time around. This hotel is a little more out of the way but it’s one of the main hot spots for celebs. This time I lost count of how many I encountered in person. No, I didn’t get pics with everybody but I do have some stories!

Wednesday night is preview night, so some con-goers have badges and get early access to the convention. My best bud River and I tried it out last year and didn’t really think it was worth it. We typically have more fun running around the Gaslamp and seeing what’s going on there. We just find things like this a little more fun

But we checked into our hotel and right off the bat we run into Kristen Schaal (you may know her from 30 Rock). I told her how much fun I thought the Tacky parody video was with Weird Al and she thanked me (she is featured in the video). I asked her how she was enjoying herself and told her we planned to see Weird Al’s panel. She wasn’t aware he was at the con too so she was glad I told her. She was really sweet!

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Thursday I didn’t really try for a lot of panels. I got to attend the one for Teen Wolf and that worked out well. I wasn’t as close as I got to be last year but it was all good. I haven’t watched the new season yet but I plan to catch up next month. The midseason trailer looks awesome. They also passed out a Bestiary for the fans. I actually got mine signed later by the artist which was nice. I have a couple extra so I think I’ll plan a giveaway for this. I really enjoyed the panel and one highlight was a fan who couldn’t compose herself while asking a question to Dylan O’Brien. I’m sure he made her feel like a million bucks that day. It was too adorable (it starts around the 26 minute mark).

My biggest goal for this day was to attend the Linkin Park concert. It was actually a part of the MTVu Fandom awards. But the night for River and me was all about Linkin Park. We’ve been fans since their debut album in 2000 so this was a special treat for us. We got in line at 5pm. Doors didn’t open until 7 and we rushed the stage and didn’t move until it was over at nearly 11pm. The awards were nice as we got to see all the celebs come out and present. When the camera would cut to the nominees Tyler Posey and Channing Tatum were goofballs, lol. The fans were loving them. Here are a couple of videos of Channing Tatum and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (aka Jamie Lannister) with Natalie Dormer (aka Margaery Tyrell) from A Game of Thrones.

And here’s the Teen Wolf cast with their awards.

We got to see local talent G-Eazy as the opening act. He was cool and reminded me a little bit of Mackelmore. Finally around 10pm Linkin Park comes out and they brought old AND new to the table. The crowd was having an awesome time. I know I was. We were SO CLOSE to the stage! The sound is terrible on my phone but I was right beside the speakers so it was a little too much for it I guess.

Unfortunately since I was flying I didn’t get to watch the Fandom awards air on MTV that Sunday, but one of my co-workers spotted me in the crowd. You can watch the whole awards show here: http://www.mtv.com/shows/mtvu_fandom_awards/

I haven’t watched it yet myself but I’m looking forward to when I spot myself. They don’t seem to include G-Eazy or Linkin Park’s complete set (they both sang several songs) so I hope they are added later but I’m not holding my breath.

We’d been standing for hours, our voices were hoarse, and our feet were killing us, but it was TOTALLY worth it! As far as I’m concerned the con completely paid for itself right there.  Anything else was a bonus!  Stay tuned for my report of the next few days!

Giveaway Winner Selected! The Book of Life (All Souls Trilogy #3) by Deborah Harkness

 

Book of Life

 

Hi everyone! Sorry for the delay with announcing the winner. I’ve been suffering from jet lag due to Comic Con last week, so I’m playing catchup and working on that review!  I’ve been blogging a lot about this title, so I’m excited to finally have a winner for the crown jewel of them all, the book itself!  Out of 136 entries a winner was randomly chosen. And the winner is

Jess Lee

Congrats!  Check your email for details! Thanks everyone for participating! You know I like to keep them coming so please do stay tuned!

Deborah Harkness Q&A + Further Giveaway Directions

Hi everyone. So I’m going to start with the Giveaway directions. If you tried to click on the widget the first day the form might not have been working.  It was defaulted to start the following day and I didn’t notice until a couple of hours after I posted it. I fixed it as soon as I noticed it but some of you initial viewers might have missed it. I apologize for that.  But it’s definitely up and running so make sure you have entered if you’re interested in this raffle and don’t hesitate to comment if something isn’t working as I specified.  Computers are only as good as the humans running them ~_^.   Also, I have noticed that some entrants fill out the form but do not comment in the comment section.  Some also don’t follow this blog by email.  These are both mandatory requirements to be selected as a winner so I am just reminding you to make sure you do those things to remain eligible. But without further ado, below is a special Q&A treat for you.

A CONVERSATION WITH DEBORAH HARKNESS

 

Q: In your day job, you are a professor of history and science at the University of Southern California and have focused on alchemy in your research. What aspects of this intersection between science and magic do you hope readers will pick up on while reading THE BOOK OF LIFE? There’s quite a bit more lab work in this book!

A. There is. Welcome back to the present! What I hope readers come to appreciate is that science—past or present—is nothing more than a method for asking and answering questions about the world and our place in it. Once, some of those questions were answered alchemically. Today, they might be answered biochemically and genetically. In the future? Who knows. But Matthew is right in suggesting that there are really remarkably few scientific questions and we have been posing them for a very long time. Two of them are: who am I? why am I here?

Q: Much of the conflict in the book seems to mirror issues of race and sexuality in our society, and there seems to be a definite moral conclusion to THE BOOK OF LIFE. Could you discuss this? Do you find that a strength of fantasy novels is their ability to not only to allow readers to escape, but to also challenge them to fact important moral issues?

A. Human beings like to sort and categorize. We have done this since the beginnings of recorded history, and probably well back beyond that point. One of the most common ways to do that is to group things that are “alike” and things that are “different.” Often, we fear what is not like us. Many of the world’s ills have stemmed from someone (or a group of someones) deciding what is different is also dangerous. Witches, women, people of color, people of different faiths, people of different sexual orientations—all have been targets of this process of singling others out and labeling them different and therefore undesirable. Like my interest in exploring what a family is, the issue of difference and respect for difference (rather than fear) informed every page of the All Souls Trilogy. And yes, I do think that dealing with fantastic creatures like daemons, vampires, and witches rather than confronting issues of race or sexuality directly can enable readers to think through these issues in a useful way and perhaps come to different conclusions about members of their own families and communities. As I often say when people ask me why supernatural creatures are so popular these days: witches and vampires are monsters to think with.

Q: From the moment Matthew and a pregnant Diana arrive back at Sept-Tours and reinstate themselves back into a sprawling family of witches and vampires, it becomes clear that the meaning of family will be an important idea for THE BOOK OF LIFE. How does this unify the whole series? Did you draw on your own life?

A. Since time immemorial the family has been an important way for people to organize themselves in the world. In the past, the “traditional” family was a sprawling and blended unit that embraced immediate relatives, in-laws and their immediate families, servants, orphaned children, the children your partner might bring into a family from a previous relationship, and other dependents. Marriage was an equally flexible and elastic concept in many places and times. Given how old my vampires are, and the fact that witches are the keepers of tradition, I wanted to explore from the very first page of the series the truly traditional basis of family: unqualified love and mutual responsibility. That is certainly the meaning of family that my parents taught me.

Q: While there are entire genres devoted to stories of witches, vampires, and ghosts, the idea of a weaver – a witch who weaves original spells – feels very unique to THE BOOK OF LIFE. What resources helped you gain inspiration for Diana’s uniqueness?

A. Believe it or not, my inspiration for weaving came from a branch of mathematics called topology. I became intrigued by mathematical theories of mutability to go along with my alchemical theories of mutability and change. Topology is a mathematical study of shapes and spaces that theorizes how far something can be stretched or twisted without breaking. You could say it’s a mathematical theory of connectivity and continuity (two familiar themes to any reader of the All Souls Trilogy). I wondered if I could come up with a theory of magic that could be comfortably contained within mathematics, one in which magic could be seen to shape and twist reality without breaking it. I used fabric as a metaphor for this worldview with threads and colors shaping human perceptions. Weavers became the witches who were talented at seeing and manipulating the underlying fabric. In topology, mathematicians study knots—unbreakable knots with their ends fused together that can be twisted and shaped. Soon the mathematics and mechanics of Diana’s magic came into focus.

Q: A Discovery of Witches debuted at # 2 on the New York Times bestseller list and Shadow of Night debuted at #1. What has been your reaction to the outpouring of love for the All Souls Trilogy? Was it surprising how taken fans were with Diana and Matthew’s story?

A. It has been amazing—and a bit overwhelming. I was surprised by how quickly readers embraced two central characters who have a considerable number of quirks and challenge our typical notion of what a heroine or hero should be. And I continue to be amazed whenever a new reader pops up, whether one in the US or somewhere like Finland or Japan—to tell me how much they enjoyed being caught up in the world of the Bishops and de Clemonts. Sometimes when I meet readers they ask me how their friends are doing—meaning Diana, or Matthew, or Miriam. That’s an extraordinary experience for a writer.

Q: Diana and Matthew, once again, move around to quite a number of locations in THE BOOK OF LIFE, including New Haven, New Orleans, and a few of our favorite old haunts like Oxford, Madison, and Sept-Tours. What inspired you to place your characters in these locations? Have you visited them yourself?

A. As a writer, I really need to experience the places I write about in my books. I want to know what it smells like, how the air feels when it changes direction, the way the sunlight strikes the windowsill in the morning, the sound of birds and insects. Not every writer may require this, but I do. So I spent time not only in New Haven but undertaking research at the Beinecke Library so that I could understand the rhythms of Diana’s day there. I visited New Orleans several times to imagine my vampires into them. All of the locations I pick are steeped in history and stories about past inhabitants—perfect fuel for any writer’s creative fire.

Q: Did you know back when you wrote A Discovery of Witches how the story would conclude in THE BOOK OF LIFE? Did the direction change once you began the writing process?

A. I knew how the trilogy would end, but I didn’t know exactly how we would get there. The story was well thought out through the beginning of what became The Book of Life, but the chunk between that beginning and the ending (which is as I envisioned it) did change. In part that was because what I had sketched out was too ambitious and complicated—the perils of being not only a first-time trilogy writer but also a first time author. It was very important to me that I resolve and tie up all the threads already in the story so readers had a satisfying conclusion. Early in the writing of The Book of Life it became clear that this wasn’t going to give me much time to introduce new characters or plot twists. I now understand why so many trilogies have four, five, six—or more—books in them. Finishing the trilogy as a trilogy required a lot of determination and a very thick pair of blinders as I left behind characters and story lines that would take me too far from the central story of Diana, Matthew, and the Book of Life.

Q: A Discovery of Witches begins with Diana Bishop stumbling across a lost, enchanted manuscript called Ashmole 782 in Oxford’s Bodleian Library, and the secrets contained in the manuscript are at long last revealed in THE BOOK OF LIFE. You had a similar experience while you were completing your dissertation. What was the story behind your discovery? And how did it inspire the creation of these novels?

A. I did discover a manuscript—not an enchanted one, alas—in the Bodleian Library. It was a manuscript owned by Queen Elizabeth’s astrologer, the mathematician and alchemist John Dee. In the 1570s and 1580s he became interested in using a crystal ball to talk to angels. The angels gave him all kinds of instructions on how to manage his life at home, his work—they even told him to pack up his family and belongings and go to far-away Poland and Prague. In the conversations, Dee asked the angels about a mysterious book in his library called “the Book of Soyga” or “Aldaraia.” No one had ever been able to find it, even though many of Dee’s other books survive in libraries throughout the world. In the summer of 1994 I was spending time in Oxford between finishing my doctorate and starting my first job. It was a wonderfully creative time, since I had no deadlines to worry about and my dissertation on Dee’s angel conversations was complete. As with most discoveries, this discovery of a “lost” manuscript was entirely accidental. I was looking for something else in the Bodleian’s catalogue and in the upper corner of the page was a reference to a book called “Aldaraia.” I knew it couldn’t be Dee’s book, but I called it up anyway. And it turned out it WAS the book (or at least a copy of it). With the help of the Bodleian’s Keeper of Rare Books, I located another copy in the British Library.

Q: Are there other lost books like this in the world?

A. Absolutely! Entire books have been written about famous lost volumes—including works by Plato, Aristotle, and Shakespeare to name just a few. Libraries are full of such treasures, some of them unrecognized and others simply misfiled or mislabeled. And we find lost books outside of libraries, too. In January 2006, a completely unknown manuscript belonging to one of the 17th century’s most prominent scientists, Robert Hooke, was discovered when someone was having the contents of their house valued for auction. The manuscript included minutes of early Royal Society meetings that we presumed were lost forever.

Q: Shadow of Night and A Discovery of Witches have often been compared to young adult fantasy like Twilight, with the caveat that this series is for adults interested in history, science, and academics. Unlike Bella and Edward, Matthew and Diana are card-carrying members of academia who meet in the library of one of the most prestigious universities in the world. Are these characters based on something you found missing in the fantasy genre?

A. There are a lot of adults reading young adult books, and for good reason. Authors who specialize in the young adult market are writing original, compelling stories that can make even the most cynical grownups believe in magic. In writing A Discovery of Witches, I wanted to give adult readers a world no less magical, no less surprising and delightful, but one that included grown-up concerns and activities. These are not your children’s vampires and witches.

Release Day Giveaway! The Book of Life (All Souls Trilogy #3) – Save the Best for Last

Book of Life

Synopsis

After traveling through time in Shadow of Night, the second book in Deborah Harkness’s enchanting series, historian and witch Diana Bishop and vampire scientist Matthew Clairmont return to the present to face new crises and old enemies. At Matthew’s ancestral home at Sept-Tours, they reunite with the cast of characters from A Discovery of Witches—with one significant exception. But the real threat to their future has yet to be revealed, and when it is, the search for Ashmole 782 and its missing pages takes on even more urgency. In the trilogy’s final volume, Harkness deepens her themes of power and passion, family and caring, past deeds and their present consequences. In ancestral homes and university laboratories, using ancient knowledge and modern science, from the hills of the Auvergne to the palaces of Venice and beyond, the couple at last learn what the witches discovered so many centuries ago.

Review

I will be honest and admit that I didn’t re-read the prequels prior to diving into this one. It’s been a couple of years since I read Shadow of Night so my memory was fuzzy on certain details and as a result, toward the beginning of this book I felt a little lost. It didn’t last for long though as Harkness weaves the story together very well incorporating important developments from the other novels into this one. It definitely feels like a third book so you don’t want to start here.

If you’ve been waiting patiently for this one then it was worth the wait. It’s a satisfying final act and at this point I’d say it’s my favorite of the series because I want to read it again. Harkness is prolific, but the pace felt just right this time around whereas in the earlier novels it occasionally felt slow. Either that or I finally adjusted to her writing style. I was hanging onto every word and the suspense created just the right tension, especially toward the end. I couldn’t put the book down. It struck an emotional chord with me which was a pleasant surprise. After about a third into the book I was completely invested in the outcome for Diana and Matthew as they had so much counting against them and their family. And it only compounds as the story goes on. Diana’s growing powers, Matthews secrets, the plot twists, the villains, they were all very entertaining.

Aside from feeling lost after having not re-read the other books, my only other criticism is that I thought it was a little crowded character-wise. I could keep up with core supporting characters, but often enough I found myself mixing up the rest.

These books offer a mix of everything which is what makes them so fun. I came for the paranormal but I appreciate the amount of research that went into the historical aspects of the book, the strong writing, the humor, the horror, the drama, and the romance. The chemistry between Diana and Matthew is the best part of the reading experience. By the end I felt like I went on a journey with the characters and that to me is a sign of a successful story. Though this is the end of the trilogy I think there is enough left to write another one and I wouldn’t be surprised to see it down the line.

*ARC provided by the publisher
*Review posted to Amazon and Goodreads.

Giveaway

This a one beautiful book! And with that, Penguin has been so kind to team up with me to bring you guys this wonderful giveaway!   One lucky winner of my blog will receive a copy of the novel! All you have to do is comment and tell me what you’re most looking forward to in this 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 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 7/15/14 – 7/27/14. Good luck!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

The Queen of the Tearling (Book 1) Review

Synopsis: On her nineteenth birthday, Princess Kelsea Raleigh Glynn, raised in exile, sets out on a perilous journey back to the castle of her birth to ascend her rightful throne. Plain and serious, a girl who loves books and learning, Kelsea bears little resemblance to her mother, the vain and frivolous Queen Elyssa. But though she may be inexperienced and sheltered, Kelsea is not defenseless: Around her neck hangs the Tearling sapphire, a jewel of immense magical power; and accompanying her is the Queen’s Guard, a cadre of brave knights led by the enigmatic and dedicated Lazarus. Kelsea will need them all to survive a cabal of enemies who will use every weapon—from crimson-caped assassins to the darkest blood magic—to prevent her from wearing the crown.

Review: I was pleased to receive a copy of this book for review. I thought the plot sounded intriguing and learning that the rights to the book were acquired by Warner Bros and a Harry Potter producer made me even more eager to read it. Emma Watson is set to star as Kelsea so I spent the entire book envisioning her as the character.  This is smart marketing on their part because fans can’t complain about miscasting!

I’ve heard this series being compared to Hunger Games. Personally, for me it had more of a Game of Thrones feel to it if anything. I say GoT because I’ve not read the Song of Ice and Fire books yet (I might when the series is finally over); I only watch the show but there were a few similar themes: a medieval backdrop, present but not overpowering supernatural elements, multiple kingdoms, a tyrannical ruler you love to hate, and a young heroine who has to grow and mature to carry out her destiny.

I thought making it a futuristic medieval approach was clever. It allows her to use anecdotes from today in a setting that’s like the past, but it’s in the future so the author gets away with it without readers wracking their brains over historical inconsistencies.

I’ve said it many times before, but I find that I tend to prefer books that are character driven (with interesting characters of course), so in that respect this book was good but it could have been better. There are many characters that get focus so it’s difficult to become attached to anyone in particular.  This book introduces a whole new world spends a lot of time focusing on Kelsea growing up to be what she needs to be to save the kingdoms.  It’s not in first person which gives it a little more freedom to focus on other characters.  I look forward to the sequels exploring those opportunities a bit more.  The villain has potential to become very interesting.  All of her scenes were my favorites of the book, though I am rooting for Kelsea of course.  I finished the book looking forward to the sequel so that’s a good sign.

This is Erika Johansen’s debut novel, but you wouldn’t really know it with the movie deals already coming her way.  The well-crafted world-building,  characterization, and plot are as adequate as any veteran.  I look forward to what she can do next with this series and how it will come to life on screen.

*ARC Provided by the Publisher

Transformers: Age of Extinction Review

This movie didn’t give me anything that I wasn’t expecting when I decided to see it. Though the reviews have been abysmal, the franchise is undeniably critic-proof. I am a big fan of the first film. When it comes to the second film I probably have an irrational hatred for it since I saw it in theatres and it put me to sleep. Then I watched it on television and it wasn’t any better. For the third film I didn’t bother seeing in the theatres (not that it hurt its $1 billion gross at all), but I ended up watching it on Netflix and it honestly exceeded my expectations though it didn’t warrant a repeat viewing. Now we’ve got the fourth film, an all new cast, and endless potential. After seeing it this weekend I sort of wish I’d seen it on a real IMAX screen because it does come off as bigger than life and the CGI was a thing of beauty. That alone justifies the 15 minutes of credits. It takes a village, a city, and a small country of artists to make this happen. And I tip my hat to all of them for a job well done. They are the true stars if you ask me.

Considering how much it’s getting hammered critically it makes me wonder about my own tastes. This is my favorite one since the original. Of course the first one is probably the better film when it comes to balance, but this one blew it away when it came to the action and visual effects. I liked how some of the angles were shot from different POVs. It gave the film a more immersive effect. I can still feel those explosions rumbling through my chest.

Optimus Prime remains awesome. I normally don’t like leaders as much when it comes to superhero groups (often times their generic personalities and self-righteous attitudes make them less interesting than the other members) but he’s just a badass who gets things done and always gets the honor of dishing out those super gruesome fatalities. It’s amazing what Bay gets away with since it’s all robot violence.  I thought the new cast was okay.  Marky Mark was on the same level as Shia LaBeouf for me so I didn’t find myself missing the old gang.

Was the film overly long? Yes. Was it loud? Yes. Did I have to take a bathroom break? Yes. Was the plot senseless at times? Yes. Was he clearly objectifying the female star with constant shots of her legs and backside? Yes. But if you accept that going in knowing you just want to see giant transformers transformin’ and kicking butt then it’s a feast for the eyes if nothing else. Think of the super long runtime and next to non-stop action as Michael Bay’s gift to hold us over until the 5th film. And you’d better believe there will be a 5th film.

I paid for an experience I can’t get at home and it delivers ten-fold on that. There were some jaw-droppingly good cosplays for this last year at Comic Con. I hope to see a lot more when I head there again in a few weeks!

Tammy Review

After losing her job and learning that her husband has been unfaithful, a woman hits the road with her profane, hard-drinking grandmother.

Before seeing the film I hadn’t seen a lot of advertising or trailers, so it wasn’t sure what to expect.  After viewing it I felt as if the film was missing something. The story meandered, the plot was weak, and the laughs were few and far in-between.  I am starting to worry that they are burning out Melissa McCarthy as this is probably her worst outing yet. I know as a comedic actress she is hit or miss for a lot of people.  She’s not my favorite but I enjoy a few scenes in her movies for the most part and loved her in Bridesmaids. My only problem is that it feels like once you’ve seen one Melissa McCarthy film, you’ve seen them all. It’s as if she can’t hold down a movie on her own since she’s constantly paired with other major stars; Jason Bateman in Identity Thief,  Sandy B (love her) in The Heat, and now Susan Sarandon in Tammy all come to mind.  I’d like for her to take a step back and come up with more clever and original material.  It’s hard to do that if you’re pressured to come out with a movie or two every year.  The quality will inevitably suffer.

Susan Sarandon was the best part of the film, but a large part of that goes back to my own curiosity of how well she could pull off being a drunken grandma.  Considering that there’s only a 24 year age gap between Sarandon and McCarthy I found it a little unbelievable that she’d be her grandmother.  I don’t know why she couldn’t just be a dysfunctional mom or aunt.  They did a good job of making her look elderly, but we all know she can still clean up well.   I thought they could have utilized the supporting characters a bit more. Kathy Bates and Sandra Oh were nice additions, but we didn’t get nearly enough of them in the film.  If this movie was based on a road trip with McCarthy, Sarandon, Bates, and Oh would have been much more entertaining.  The run time is on the shorter side being only 96 minutes, but it felt long enough.

All in all there have definitely been better comedies out this year but the film has its moments.  If you really like Melissa McCarthy films then this will probably be the film for you, but if you don’t enjoy her films then this won’t be an exception.

They did a cute little marketing stint for it here in my area. They gave away apple pies from a “TopperJack” stand; it’s Tammie’s job location in the film which was a source of a particularly pivotal and comedic scene. The pie tasted like what you’d get at McDonalds.  I took a snapshot of it. apple pie

GIVEAWAY SWAG WINNER! All Souls Trilogy by Deborah Harkness

Book of Life CommonplaceSpreadMockUp2

 

So it looks like we have a winner for the giveaway!  Out of 114 entries a winner was randomly chosen.  And the winner is

Nichole Anne 

Check your email for details! Thanks everyone for participating!  You know that won’t be all though, so be sure to stay tuned for my giveaway announcement of The Book of Life novel within the next couple of weeks!