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POLL + GIVEAWAY! The Ruby Circle (Bloodlines #6) by Richelle Mead

 

Alrighty! Ask and you shall receive!! Though admittedly I ADORE this series as a whole, this particular book was not my favorite as I explained in my review. However, that doesn’t mean I can’t hold the giveaway anyway and let one lucky winner decide for him or herself! You voted yaye and I’m making good on my promise!  One lucky winner of my blog will receive a copy of the novel! Just tell me which book in the Bloodlines series is your favorite, or if you haven’t read it yet let me know what you’re looking forward to.  I’ve included a poll to help keep track!

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 6/30/15 – 7/12/15. Good luck!
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End of Days (Penryn & the End of Days #3) by Susan Ee

Synopsis: After a daring escape from the angels, Penryn and Raffe are on the run. They’re both desperate to find a doctor who can reverse the twisted changes inflicted by the angels on Raffe and Penryn’s sister. As they set off in search of answers, a startling revelation about Raffe’s past unleashes dark forces that threaten them all.

When the angels release an apocalyptic nightmare onto humans, both sides are set on a path toward war. As unlikely alliances form and strategies shift, who will emerge victorious? Forced to pick sides in the fight for control of the earthly realm, Raffe and Penryn must choose: Their own kind, or each other?

Review: This series has come a long way and we’ve finally reached the end! Susan Ee’s skills have always impressed me, as she has the ability to cram a good story with thorough world building into a relatively short amount of pages. I enjoy how I feel transported to a new world every time I open one of these books. Admittedly the second book wasn’t a favorite of mine. It lacked a satisfying dose of Raffe, but Ee made up for it with this one. His character experiences a lot of growth and changes along with Penryn as well. The chemistry between the two remains strong. My favorite character is probably her sister though. Every time she’s featured I’m torn between wanting to hug her and wanting to run away from her. The amount of unpredictability with the character makes her exciting.

This book also did a nice job of fleshing out the other angels. Some aren’t as bad as you may have initially believed, and then it’s the complete opposite for the others. I wouldn’t mind spin-off stories that focused on them and how it’s presented makes it feel like a possibility.

Because the books are short I am usually left wanting more. This is the end of the trilogy (for now) so this was no exception. But I enjoyed the ride and look forward to what Ee cooks up next!

Review + Giveaway Poll – The Ruby Circle (Bloodlines #6) by Richelle Mead

So someone’s been bad. Want to take a wild guess? You guessed right! It’s me! I’m pretty terrible actually.  I was totally sure that I reviewed this book.  That’s why I’m finally posting this review now.  It’s only one of my favorite (if not my all time favorite) YA series!!  I apologize to my fellow Sydrian fans.  I guess I delayed it because I was really hoping this book would help the series go out with a bang, but at the same time I was fearing Mead would give it a bitter-sweet and unsatisfying ending, like she tends to do for her series on several occasions.

Summary (from Goodreads):

THEY WILL BE TESTED

Sydney Sage is an Alchemist, one of a group of humans who dabble in magic and serve to bridge the worlds of humans and vampires. They protect vampire secrets – and human lives.

Their forbidden romance exposed, Sydney and Adrian find themselves facing the wrath of both the Alchemists and the Moroi in this electrifying conclusion to Richelle Mead’s bestselling Bloodlines series.

When the life of someone they both love is put on the line, Sydney risks everything to hunt down a deadly former nemesis. Meanwhile, she and Adrian becomes enmeshed in a puzzle that could hold the key to a shocking secret about spirit magic, a secret that could shake the entire Moroi world and alter their lives forever.

Don’t miss their unforgettable final chapter…

Review:

All in all, I sort of ended this series feeling like no news is good news.  I was really hoping for something more exhilarating, but in the end it felt like more of a fizzle. Without a doubt Books 3 and 4 are the best of the series.  This book didn’t feel nearly as special and a few aspects felt like they were on the predictable side.

Sydrian didn’t have the same spark that I felt from them in the earlier books.  The characters remain likable and both have grown which is nice to see, but that’s about all I can say.

I will definitely miss this series, and though I’m happy for a satisfying ended, at the same time I was left wanting more.  I wasn’t into Vampire Academy nearly as much as Bloodlines, and there’s clearly an opportunity for another sequel of 6 after this one.  But I don’t really think I want to follow those characters as the leads so I can’t say for sure if I’ll be reading it.

I wanted to do a giveaway for this one and if you guys want it I’ll certainly offer one, but I sort of wish it was for a better book.  I like to be really excited about them hoping you’ll enjoy them just as much as I did.  But I shall leave it up to you guys!

To Giveaway or to Not Giveaway? That is the question!

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Jurassic World – The Best Sequel Thus Far!

Last year was a pretty good year to be Chris Pratt. He really shot to the Hollywood A-list fast and into America’s hearts thanks to the successes of The Lego Movie and Guardians of the Galaxy.   He’s become so beloved that adding him to the revered Jurassic Park franchise has been generally welcome.

I still remember the original film when I was a kid. It’s one of my favorite movies to this day. Sure, it looks a little dated, but it’s hard to beat first impressions and as a then 8-year-old it was nothing short of amazing. It left big shoes to fill, so its sequels with Jeff Goldblum in 1997 and Sam Niel in 2001 could not recapture the magic for me at the same level. Because of that, I was a little skeptical going into this one, but that wasn’t going to stop me from giving it a shot.

Summary:
Jurassic World is a luxury island resort that houses several genetically engineered dinosaurs. The latest and greatest creation, the Indominus Rex manages to escape its enclosure and wreaks havoc all over the island. The fate of all lives on the island fall on a former military soldier turned animal trainer.

What I liked:
The dinosaurs look better than ever thanks to the advancements in technology.   The velociraptors especially were among my faves. You can always expect excitement with them and this film did something a little different so it didn’t disappoint.

The effects in general were cool and I think it accomplished what it meant to do distinguishing itself as a “world” as opposed to a “park”. Even still, there were throwbacks to the first film that I really appreciated.

I liked Chris Pratt as the lead. He wasn’t quite as exciting as Star Lord, but he held his own well and I liked his authority. The action/adventure genre is really becoming a niche for him.

The final battle, I saw it coming a mile away but I still anticipated it and found it exciting. Two mega alphas square off. Will the torch be passed on? I had no doubt about that answer, though it did make me think of 2014’s Godzilla sequel in that respect.

What I didn’t like:
I think I would have liked even more dinosaur vs. dinosaur action. While the scenes between dinosaur and man were decent, I think they could have gotten away with more brutality between the reptiles.

I did find myself wondering how much better this film could be if it were Rated-R. The franchise has made billions over time, so I actually think it could afford to risk it and the film would have felt like it was treading new ground.

I didn’t like Bryce Dallas Howard for most of the film. I found her character very annoying and unrelatable. I didn’t really care for the brothers either. I didn’t dislike them, but in general they lacked the charisma and chemistry of the Murphy siblings in the original.

The 3D was completely unnecessary and almost gave me a headache, but it did not overtake Insurgent for the worst of the year, so there’s that at least.

Overall:
This is definitely the best sequel yet and worth seeing on the big screen. It doesn’t top the original for me, but I can see younger kids today preferring this one thanks to the improved special effects. And thanks to the few loose ends left, I can definitely see a sequel or more in the foreseeable future.

Rating: 4 out of 5

Spy – Funniest Movie of the Year!

Admittedly I am typically not a Melissa McCarthy fan. Sometimes I find her funny, but most of the time she’s too over the top. Her films were beginning to become predictable as well. She always has to team up with another star as if she can’t hold her own.. So I got accustomed to expecting that from her, but sometimes trying something over and over again will eventually strike the right chord. And that’s exactly what happens in this film.

Summary:
Though she possess great skills in field training, CIA analyst Susan Cooper (played by Melissa McCarthy) decides to help from the sidelines, working as an analyst to guide her designated special agent Bradely Fine (played by Jude Law) through missions. He’s handsome and crafty and they make a great team. She inevitably finds herself in an unrequited love situation. Using state of the art hidden spy equipment to keep in contact, their secret to success is discovered by a formidable foe. Bradley is taken out by Rayna Boyanov (played by Rose Byrne) an arms dealer looking to score a lot of cash to sell a nuclear weapon to the highest bidder. This leaves the CIA in a pinch with no choice but to use Susan as a spy to bring Boyanov to justice and avenge her friend. Fellow operative Rick Ford (played by Jason Statham) is not a fan of this idea and makes plans of his own to solve the case.

What I liked:
Well, it’s a comedy, so the idea is to laugh. I was expecting only a couple of chuckles, but I found myself laughing out loud early on, through the middle, and at the end of the film. So in that sense it’s a complete triumph. This is easily McCarthy’s best work. They toned her down a little to be more relatable which likely helps us connect to the character.

Jason Statham helps make this movie. They were an unlikely team up and the final product pays off big time. They play so well off one another. I didn’t realize he was capable of being so funny while portraying a character with the same bravado we’re used to from his other action films.

It’s also re-watchable. I finished it looking forward to watching it again. That’s not always an automatic reaction for me.

What I didn’t like:
Honestly, I was having too much fun to think about what bugged me. But now that I’ve given it a couple of days perhaps it would have been nice to see Statham do more action scenes. We were mostly told what he did rather than shown. While the film still works without it, that definitely would have made it even more fun.

Overall: If you’re in the mood to laugh then this will deliver. I recommend it. And like most spy movies, this is designed to allow for sequels. I hope they make a great one…or several.

Rating: 5 out of 5

Insidious 3 Review

It’s difficult to scare me when it comes to horror films.  There’s a very short list of them that I consider well done and most of those are over 20 years old and include zombies (Thank you, George A. Romero).  That said, I thought the first Insidious was creepy enough. I actually don’t even recall seeing the second one but this one seemed promising.

Summary:
After teen Quinn Brenner (played by Stefanie Scott) loses her mom, a year and a half later she believes she is sensing her spirit.  She makes efforts to contact her in the afterlife and to do so she reached out to psychic Elise Rainier (played by Lin Shaye). Unfortunately Elise is not in the best state of mind, still emotionally coping with drastic life changes and past occurrences, she is not willing to use her abilities. But once Quinn is clearly targeted by these forces, her father (played by Dermot Mulroney) turns to Elise for help. With the help of two parapsychologists, Elise explores The Further — where she discovers a demon that wants human souls.

What I Liked:

The ending developments make the film more interesting.  Unfortunately it takes too long to get to this point.

Just like in the previous films, Elise is likeable and easy to root for and understand.  I like that this character is able to continue to help anyone in need.  Quinn is definitely sympathetic and easy to root for as well, but for me it was more about her circumstances than her actual personality. Elise has the benefit of having prior films to flesh her out and allow her to grow on an audience.

What I Didn’t Like:

Though it clock in at 97 minutes, I thought it was sort of boring until the final half hour.  I would have liked more time spent in The Further (the alternate reality where the ghosts reside).  Considering the forces after them, spending more time in The Further to confront the ghosts would have made things scarier for me.

The PG-13 rating inevitably neuters the full potential of most horror films and this one isn’t any different.   To this day, The Ring remains the only PG-13 film that’s managed to genuinely scare me.

Overall: Fans of the series will definitely see this one, but if you are not familiar with this franchise and not easy to scare, you might want to look somewhere else for a more exciting time.                                                       

Rating: 2 / 5 Stars

 

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

 

Book of Life

 

Hi everyone! Thank you for participating in this giveaway and thank you so much, Penguin, for reaching out with this awesome opportunity!   Out of 77 entries a winner was randomly chosen. This winner will receive the mass market paperback version of the book!  And the winner is

Nickie Mohler

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

San Andreas

It’s a good year to be Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson! Though to be honest, I feel like I’ve been saying that for a few years in a row. On the heels of the big budget, massively successful juggernaut that was Furious 7 (still the highest grossing film of the year right now), this offers up yet another expensive action excursion of a different persuasion. It’s one we’ve all see before, but hey, it’s got The Rock and he’s the man of the hour. He’s “Mr. Franchise Viagra” (his own words, not mine though I can’t disagree), and I am content to watch him in as many films as possible.

In San Andreas, California all is peaceful until a massive earthquake shakes things up on an epic 9.0 magnitude scale. One super capable search-and-rescue helicopter pilot (played by Dwayne Johnson) risks it all to search the ruins of Los Angeles and San Francisco in order to find his estranged wife (played by Carla Gugino) and daughter (played by Alexandra Daddario).

What I liked:
It doesn’t take long to get to the meat of the situation. Right away we’re introduced to an interesting sequence making me wonder if helicopters are actually capable of such precision maneuvers.
The 3D is not essential but I feel like they did a better job with it than the last several films I’ve seen in 3D, so I wouldn’t say it’s completely unnecessary.

The effects were well done and I liked seeing their daughter be a leader and act just as capable as Johnson’s character. It offered a nice balance.

If you like seeing Dwayne Johnson and Carla Gugino on screen together again then this should deliver. They seem to like working with one another (this is their third film together) and they work well on screen together in my opinion.

What I didn’t like:
The story is weak and predictable. I was hoping for a little more from Paul Giamatti’s character. He is capable of playing interesting roles, but this guy was your standard scientist that has to warn the public of what’s to come. Certain parts of the story reminded me of Taken, especially the estranged/ex-wife being wooed by a billionaire and only the workaholic father is able to save their daughter when faced with impossible odds.

Overall, if you’ve seen one disaster flick you’ve seen them all. It really boils down to WHO you want to see doing the running and WHICH particular landmarks you want to see crash and burn. This movie never pretended to be anything more than that, so for me it delivered.

Rating: 3/5

Tomorrowland

Upon seeing the trailer I had no idea what this would be about. I’ve never been to a Disneyworld or Disneyland theme park (yes, tragic) so I didn’t even know it was named after that section of the park until one of the attorneys I work for filled me in while we were chatting about it. Even still, the Disney name alone sold me on giving this one a shot–and that I did.

Synopsis: A middle-aged prodigy (played by George Clooney) reluctantly teams up with a teen genius (played by Britt Robertson) on a dangerous adventure facing threats, both human and not, to unlock the mysteries of “Tomorrowland,” a futuristic and highly technologically developed location that transcends time and space.

What I Liked:

The snazzy opening is really impressive. They re-created the Disney castle logo to look like Tomorrowland. I’ve never wanted to see the Disney castle in person more until that moment.

The story itself is somewhat original. I don’t think we’ll see very many films with this type of feel to it this year. Films series like Divergent or Maze running can immediately trigger Hunger Games feels, with good reason, but it’s hard to peg this one. Sure, it had big robots, like Transformers, but it was an element that wasn’t used too often.

The scenes and visuals present very well on the big screen. It was shot very nicely. The effects were well done too.

The action scenes are loud and bright. One scene in particular amused me quite a bit because it felt like a futuristic Home Alone movie on steroids. It honestly made me hope that if it gets a reboot it would be more like that.

I really enjoyed the scenes in Tomorrowland. You could tell that a lot of conceptualizing went into it and it felt really imaginative. The big screen really enhanced the impact of those scenes.

What I Didn’t Like:

I didn’t always enjoy the banter between Clooney and Robertson’s characters. It came off as more obnoxious than funny. I felt this way off the bat and then with time I settled in to their situation.

The effects were nice but it didn’t feel like next level filmmaking that it probably would have achieved with more scenes actually taking place in Tomorrowland.

Though I understand that to do that would have increased its budget significantly. I actually think the $190 million is a little high for what we actually got. Where did the money go unless it was to pay Clooney about a quarter of it?

Clooney star power didn’t add much. It would have been the same without him. Maybe Disney used him as a selling point because the budge is so big?

This felt like a risky film for Disney. It was hard to peg the actual audience. Some themes were a little heavy and it lacks the crossover appeal that we’ve come to expect from disney/pixar effort or a Pirates of the Caribbean effort.

Overall: Sometimes it’s good to go into a film with a blank slate, but that doesn’t always guarantee a great final product. Tomorrowland had all the tools to make this film something special, but it doesn’t use them to their full potential. That said, I wasn’t bored and wanted to see where the story would go. It left room for a sequel if successful, but I feel like the box office is a little crowded with other options to give it long enough legs.

Rating: 3/ 5 Stars

GIVEAWAY! Paperback copy of The Book of Life by Deborah Harkness

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

Well if you guys remember, I have done a couple of giveaways previously for this final entry in the All Souls Trilogy.  But now that the paperback release is coming up soon, Penguin has once again been kind enough to team up with me.    One lucky winner of my blog will receive a paperback copy of the novel! All you have to do is comment and tell me what you’re most looking forward to in this book. Or if you’ve already read it, tell me what you loved most! Spoiler warnings, ya’ll.

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 5/18/14 – 5/25/14. Good luck!
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