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Mockingjay Part 2 Review


And now it’s time to say goodbye to Kat and company. Granted, the last book wasn’t my favorite by any means, but that doesn’t mean the film franchise can’t do its best to go out with a bang. To be honest, the hype has seemed a little mild building up to part two of this conclusion. It’s like the upcoming Star Wars film has booked every seat on the year-end blockbuster hype train. Sometimes that can be a good thing to temper expectations though.

Vamp:
The Capital is waging war on the other districts of Panem, leading their inevitable destruction. It’s once again Katniss Everdeen, to lead the charge against President Snow, but she and all whom she holds dear may have to make the ultimate sacrifice to do it.

What I liked:
One of the biggest pitfalls of the book was that it was in first person. There was so much time spent with Katniss sitting around and doing nothing while all the action was happening elsewhere. By that time I ultimately decided that I no longer liked the character, the book became excruciating, and I couldn’t wait for it to end. Thankfully it did and thankfully the movie gives us more in the action department. We also see more supporting character interaction and development.

I think Donald Sutherland knocks it out of the park as President Snow. He was by far one of the most interesting characters. As the final showdown approaches he becomes more unhinged and effectively creepy. You may even find yourself laughing at the character in a couple of scenes. I thought Jenna Malone also gave a really strong performance. She’s underrated and I hope we see her in more mainstream films in the future.

Another plus was the run time. Since we already had a part 1 due to the Harry Potter Cash Cow Effect, thankfully it didn’t feel overly long, clocking in at a solid 2 hours. I still don’t think the story warranted two films, but it was entertaining at the very least. I hadn’t read the books in a few years so there were a few scenes that I couldn’t recall, but filler or not I enjoyed a couple of sequences a lot, especially one involving Finnick in all his badassery.

What I didn’t like:
Sometimes the film didn’t pack enough emotional punch for me. The chemistry between Katniss and Peeta didn’t seem as good as it was in the original film. On screen I felt more between her and Gale. And for the record, I had no real horse in that ship war and still don’t. I’m about as neutral as it gets on that one.

Overall: All in all it was a solid. It touched on the biggest moments I remembered from the book so it did a decent job at remaining faithful ‘til the end. It wasn’t my favorite film of the year, but I know it might be for a lot of people.

Rating:
4/5

**This is post is also a part of my guest review for my friends over at The Grand Shuckett.

Giveaway Winners Selected!! TWO copies of The Geomancer (A Gareth and Adele Novel) by Susan and Clay Griffith

Hi everyone. I hope my fellow Americans are gearing up for a nice holiday weekend.  For two of you it might get a little nicer!  The winners of the giveaway  for this fabulous book are:

Jen

Jessie Wolf

Congratulations ladies! I’ll shoot you both emails soon.

Release Day Giveaway!! TWO copies of The Geomancer (A Gareth and Adele Novel) by Susan and Clay Griffith

Synopsis

The uneasy stalemate between vampires and humans is over. Adele and Gareth are bringing order to a free Britain, but bloody murders in London raise the specter that Adele’s geomancy is failing and the vampires might return. A new power could tilt the balance back to the vampire clans. A deranged human called the Witchfinder has surfaced on the Continent, serving new vampire lords. This geomancer has found a way to make vampires immune to geomancy and intends to give his masters the ability to kill humans on a massive scale.

The apocalyptic event in Edinburgh weakened Adele’s geomantic abilities. If the Witchfinder can use geomancy against humanity, she may not have the power to stop him. If she can’t, there is nowhere beyond his reach and no one he cannot kill.

From a Britain struggling to rebuild to the vampire capital of Paris, from the heart of the Equatorian Empire to a vampire monastery in far-away Tibet, old friends and past enemies return. Unexpected allies and terrible new villains arise. Adele and Gareth fight side-by-side as always, but they can never be the same if they hope to survive.

Review

Adele! Gareth! I missed you guys!
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After finishing the first set of books I thought we were at the end of adventures for Gareth and Adele. While I understand when authors want to move on I thought there was more that could be explored in this world. So you can imagine how excited I was to learn that The Griffiths would be returning to the Vampire Empire world.

When I started reading it I did forget a few things that happened in prior books since it’s been a few years, but I wasn’t completely lost in what was happening. I do think if you’re new to this series that it would be to your benefit to start from the top. One book builds on the other. One improvement I noticed is that I was engaged from beginning to end. In the prior books they got off to a slower start for me and I didn’t really feel pulled in until later.

One great thing about this series is that it’s so imaginative and the world building remains excellent. You really feel like you’re escaping into their world of airships and flying vampires, etc. The action and adventure remains top notch. Adele and Gareth continue to make a great team with even better chemistry. They really are one of my favorite couples in the urban fantasy world. What’s even better is that even while they’re together they remain strong and interesting characters individually too. I liked that we were introduced to new characters but we saw familiar faces as well.

I do wonder what is up with this new trend in books that I’ve been reading where the protagonists age prematurely. In the past it’s usually the reverse issue when dealing with supernatural characters. I’m not totally sure what that accomplishes.

For the most part the plot was entertaining and moved along well. It accomplished what few books are able to do; it gave me book drop! I gave this a full 5 stars and though I haven’t read as many books this year, it is one of my favorites by a large margin. I’d love to re-read it at some point. As it stands now, my thirst for Gareth and Adele shall remain insatiable! I already can’t wait for the next book!

*Review also posted to Amazon
*ARC received by publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Giveaway

Pyr, the publisher for this wonderful series, has been so kind to team up with me to offer a giveaway!!

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!  

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Giveaway Winners!! Magic Shifts Hardcover and All Souls Con Access

Hi everyone! So between travelling the Japan, dealing with jet lag, and starting a new MBA program things are quite busy for me to say the least.  But I have gotten around to randomly selecting winners for the latest giveaway contests! Thank you all for your participation. I have more stuff lined up, but in the meantime I’ll get on with the announcement of the winners.

ASClogo-sm7AS Trilogy

All Souls Con Winner:

Yodamom


Magic Shifts Hardcover Winner:

Meg Stickle Moore

GIVEAWAY! Deborah Harkness AllSoulsCon on 9/12–virtual pass

ASClogo-sm7AS Trilogy

I know I have several All Souls Trilogy fans here, so I think this giveaway is right up your alley! So on September 12th in Los Angeles they are holding a fan run con for the All Souls Series! Deborah Harkness will be attending along with the audiobook reader Jennifer Ikeda.  AllSoulsCon is a one day convention, but if you can’t attend live, it is available worldwide via livestream.  You can see the schedule here.  Highlights include:

  • Q&A sessions with Deborah Harkness and Jennifer Ikeda
  • A Renaissance Music Workshop, with performances by University of Southern California musicians and featuring original compositions by Isaias Garcia
  • A fan panel (details to come)

While you may want to enter for a chance to win all access from this giveaway, right now through August 13th you can register for 20% off.  In conjunction with Penguin who was so kind to reach out to me, the Giveaway here on my blog will be for one virtual ticket to the con. The winner will be able to access all content on their computer!

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” Your Urban Fantasy on Facebook (bonus entry)
  3. Follow me on Twitter (bonus entry)
  4. 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 8/10/15 – 8/31/15. Good luck!
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GIVEAWAY! Magic Shifts (Kate Daniels #8) by Ilona Andrews

Synopsis

After breaking from life with the Pack, mercenary Kate Daniels and her mate—former Beast Lord Curran Lennart—are adjusting to a very different pace. While they’re thrilled to escape all the infighting, Curran misses the constant challenges of leading the shapeshifters.

So when the Pack offers him its stake in the Mercenary Guild, Curran seizes the opportunity—too bad the Guild wants nothing to do with him and Kate. Luckily, as a veteran merc, Kate can take over any of the Guild’s unfinished jobs in order to bring in money and build their reputation. But what Kate and Curran don’t realize is that the odd jobs they’ve been working are all connected.

An ancient enemy has arisen, and Kate and Curran are the only ones who can stop it—before it takes their city apart piece by piece…

Review

One of the things I love most about this series are the countless one liners littered throughout any given book. Whenever I’m done I always find myself going back to collect my favorites so that I can include them in my review.  This book is certainly no exception.   In fact, I think it was better than the last book in that department.  Here are my faves:

“This would make sense,” Curran said, “if I had no eyes to read it or no brain to understand it.  Did Raphael write this?”

“Curran, please don’t bite his head off.”
“Why?”
“Because it’s illegal. Technically you assaulted him first when you threw him across the lawn.”
“I didn’t throw him very far.” I rolled my eyes.
“I could’ve thrown him straight up and let him land on the pavement.”
“That would also be illegal.”

“Does everybody think I am an asshole?” Curran asked. “Only people who know you or have met you.”
He looked at me for a long second.
“You were a zealous advocate of the Pack’s causes,” I said. “The Pack’s interests are often at odds with human interests. I still love you. Derek still thinks you’re the stuff.”

“Your horse is a donkey, your poodle is a giant wolf breed, and your boyfriend is whatever the hell he is. You have problems.”

Curran and horses didn’t get along. He thought they were unpredictable and untrustworthy, and they thought he was a werelion.

Quite a few of those are courtesy of Curran and it didn’t really occur to me until I started going over them.  There is definitely no shortage of screen time with everybody’s favorite beast lord and he’s one of the strongest characters of the book (not just physically of course). He’s well-written, his relationship with Kate is well-written.  I don’t see any fan of this pair finishing this book unsatisfied with their dynamic.  One aspect I did enjoy was that they got to be out for themselves this time.  Normally it’s all about the pack.  And even in this book they don’t completely cut ties. You don’t go from being the alpha of alphas to nothing overnight.  They are feeling the effects of this transition and some things will never change.  But I did like at least getting a taste of what it’s like for them to do their own thing for a little while.

The action overall was good though I must admit I am becoming less interested in the monsters.  It’s starting to feel like more of the same there, but it’s still an entertaining ride.  For me, this time around I was hoping we’d see more development with the Roland situation, but overall there wasn’t very much.  At this point I think that will really move the plot further along as we reach the end.  I believe the series it supposed to wrap up in 10 books so we have 2 more to go. If it’s heavy on the Roland subject to finish things out, I will definitely be a happy camper.

Fans of the series can’t miss this one!

*Review Copy Provided by the Publisher

Giveaway

So I’ve got another one! Do you want a copy of my book? Well, you might be in luck!  One lucky winner of my blog will receive a copy of the novel! Just tell me your favorite thing about the Kate Daniels Series or if you’re new to it what you’re looking forward to.

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 8/9/15 – 8/23/15. Good luck!
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Poll!! What should I read next?!

One plus to being a bit behind on my reading is what when it’s time to amp up again, I’m knee deep in good stuff.  I just finished A Court of Thorns and LOVED it (review is coming up)! It was definitely book hangover worthy, but I’ve got quite the arsenal to ease the blow between new releases and ARCs.  Bear with me here:


The Geomancer ARC (just finished it–AWESOME!)


Magic Shifts ARC (currently reading it, it’s good stuff!)

So I’m definitely riding too much high to feel a hangover. But when Magic Shifts is done, oh what’s a girl to do next?  When in doubt I turn it to you guys!

The Drafter ARC by Kim Harrison


Of Blood and Passion by Pamela Palmer


The Last Ever After by Soman Chainani


Bound by Flames by Jeaniene Frost

Okay, so it’s up to you guys! Help me out! I will be reading all of these, but with your help this will determine the order.

What should I read next?

View Results

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Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation

Aging action heroes have been able to maintain a powerful presence in Hollywood, From Liam Neeson’s Taken series to Denzel Washington’s Equalizer (which is also becoming a franchise), even to the Expendables which has managed to make a profit for 3 sequels (though the 3rd one might be showing franchise fatigue). Tom Cruise himself continues to churn out very good movies as well, 2014’s Edge of Tomorrow can attest to that. It was one of my favorite movies last year. Since it’s clear he hasn’t lost his mojo, Mission Impossible 5: Rogue Nation has enough good will behind it to do well if it’s good. And it is definitely good.

Cruise at 53 continues to perform his own death defying stunts, from hanging off a plane to riding a motorcycle in a way that I never knew he could ride. Most of us wouldn’t have the cohones to do what he does, so hats off to him. He is still in amazing shape as well. As a proven thrill seeker, he reprises his role as Ethan Hunt once again.

The IMF has been shut down, leaving Ethan Hunt out on a limb. The world isn’t getting any safer and a new and dangerous thread, called the Syndicate, has begun to rear its ugly head. With the goal of establishing a new world order through terrorism, the organization is comprised of very skilled operatives from all over the world who are dedicated to its twisted cause. This mission, should he choose to accept it, may prove to be the most impossible one yet. Fortunately Ethan has the support of his tried and true teammates as well as British Agent, Ilsa Faust (played by Rebecca Ferguson), who is in an interesting position with this rogue nation.

What I liked:
The action is fantastic and the tension is well executed. It wasn’t lacking in providing laughs either, with most of the jokes being well-placed. While Simon Pegg was not surprisingly one source for that, it didn’t completely rely on him for the comedy either. In general I appreciate that Cruise and company don’t rest on franchise laurels, clearly dedicated to making this film as good as it could be.

What I didn’t like:
There is some predictability involved, but it’s not any less entertaining. And while still a good film I don’t think it’s the best one.

Overall:
The first one came out almost 20 years ago, but when you watch this new one, you still know you’re watching an MI film. Perhaps it’s because of the stiff competition offered up by the string of superhero films that the team understands how important it is to be a good alternative. Not very many franchises can be this good five films in, just see Terminator Genysis, which came out just a month ago. This one is way better and I recommend it for fans both new and old.

Rating: 4/5

Giveaway Winner! The Ruby Circle (Bloodlines #6) by Richelle Mead

Yep. Totally late on this one, but it’s better late than never! Thanks for entering guys but we have a wiiiiner!

G K

Thank you for participating and please check your email!  As for everyone else (and G K as well if you wish), I’m going to make it up to you by announce TWO giveaways next week! And they are pretty awesome if I do say so myself.  Please stay tuned!!

Pixels Review

Aliens discover video feeds of classic arcade games and from earth and believe this is a sign of war. To get the upper hand they attack Earth through using the games as models. In order to fight against them President William Cooper (played by Kevin James) recruits his childhood friend, former video-game champ Sam Brenner (played by Adam Sandler) to fight. Brenner calls upon fellow old-school players (played by Peter Dinklage and Josh Gad) to help fight to save the world.

Adam Sandler has certainly established quite the reputation for himself in Hollywood when it comes to critics. Many couldn’t contain themselves to jump at the chance to tear this film down. To be honest, while the film was far from brilliant, it was NOT as bad as certain critics want you to believe. Uwe Boll still wins the gold medal for me as the worst offender. At least I still enjoy Sandler’s movies to an extent. I feel as if any other star that wasn’t Sandler was attached to this, it would easily be better received.

What was my experience with this film? While I may not be a serious gamer, I have played my fair share and I generally understand the culture. I bring a Nintendo 3DS with me. I have a PlayStation 3. I grew up on NES and SNES and watching my brother play them. So with that background I feel as if my opinion is as valid as anybody else who grew up enjoying video games. I still enjoy them and wish I had more time to dedicate to them.

But all in all I actually didn’t hate the film. I thought the graphics were really awesome and I enjoyed the character cameos. The 3D was also fairly decent. While I was curious if this would feel like Wreck-It-Ralph, I wasn’t expecting it to be nearly as good so I tempered my expectations knowing Sandler would be at the helm. His comedy isn’t the most sophisticated these days but I laugh at jokes of all kinds, including his at times.

The audience enjoyed it more than I did. They laughed even more and I believe there were cheers at the end.

I can get behind a film that’s self-aware of its ridiculousness and I feel this movie accomplished that. The story wasn’t the best but it wasn’t the worst I’ve seen this year either. I think children will enjoy the special effects and adults will just as much, if not more as it does tap into the nostalgia factor.

It’s an entertaining film for kids and gamers I think. Bottom line, if you don’t like Sandler then don’t bother. If you don’t like Sandler but you like games, give it a chance to see for yourself. If you don’t like either one then don’t waste your time on this one.

Rating: 3/5