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The Boy Next Door – An R-Rated Lifetime Movie!

Let’s just call a spade a spade here? This film is J. Lo’s vanity project. Even still I was eager to see it, ready to laugh at it for all the wrong reasons. They can’t all be good, right?

High school teacher Claire Peterson (played by Jennifer Lopez) learns there’s something a bit more sinister behind the pretty face of her seemingly charming and irresistible new neighbor, Noah (played by newcomer Ryan Guzman). Newly enrolled at her high school, the “mature” senior student comes to town to care for his ailing relative, befriending Claire and her son in the process. Still dealing with the effects of her marriage on the rocks, she gives in to Noah’s advances. Realizing her mistake she desperately tries to cut ties, but the obsessive Noah has other ideas…

What I Liked: I was amused that this film turned out to be an R-rated Lifetime movie. It was full of clichés and bad lines, but there were rarely any dull moments. It surprised me a little bit because it turned out to be racier than I was expecting even though they conveniently cover J. Lo’s naughty bits. You have to give it to her though. She’s 45 and a mother of twins. Her figure is out of this world. If she wants to show it off, good for her. She is aware of her place in Hollywood and she exploits that accordingly.

Guzman is pure eye candy. As Noah he is crazy and you definitely want to see him get what’s coming, but he is a pretty man. And personally, while I have no plans to see this upcoming film as I’d rather endure a session of water boarding (#SorryNotSorry but those books were dreadful drivel), I can objectively say Guzman qualifies as a suitable Christian Grey. He’s better looking than who they currently have and he encompassed that controlling, creepy, pervy stalker vibe well, with an Oedipus complex to boot (why do the crazy ones always have mommy issues?). Either way, I wouldn’t be surprised if we see more of him in the future.

What I Didn’t Like: For a movie of this level, obviously the acting and the script are sub par. But I wasn’t expecting anything Oscar worthy and I certainly didn’t get it. Was it predictable most of the time? Yes. Is Ryan Guzman remotely believable as anything other than a dude pushing 30? No. But all of that ended up being part of the fun. The film does take a pretty gory turn in the end so you might want to be prepared for that. It turned from a thriller to a horror film out of nowhere.

Overall: Based on the trailer I knew what I was getting myself into when I sat down to see this. The film was everything I thought it was going to be, if not a little more. Honestly it’s one of those films that so bad it’s good. I was entertained all throughout and the crowd appeared to be as well, critics included. I think it is best seen with a crowd because you can laugh together and react to a few shocking and ridiculous moments. It’s a great popcorn flick and nothing more.

Rating: An enthusiastic 2.5/ 5 Stars

Taken 3 – Boldly Goes Where We’ve Been Before


It’s Taken (get it? get it?) three movies but retired covert operative Bryan Mills (played by Liam Neeson) and his ex-wife, Lenore (played by Famke Janssen), have found their way back to each other. Unfortunately, their reunion is short lived before she is murdered. Framed for the crime, Bryan has to evade the FBI and CIA and every law enforcement agency under the sun while trying to solve Lenore’s murder and exact revenge. In this third and (supposedly) final entry, he must rely on his “particular set of skills” to track down her killers and protect their daughter, Kim (played by Maggie Grace). Does he have it in him to do it one last time?

I’ll admit, the Taken franchise is a guilty pleasure for me. I think the first one is the best one and a solid film. The sequels though? Not so much, though I will say that Taken 3 is an improvement on Taken 2. It’s a fun popcorn flick with action and characters we’ve become familiar with over the years. I think I read that Liam Neeson received a hefty $20 million paycheck to return, and opening at $40 million it appears it was a wise financial decision. I certainly can’t fault the guy. I enjoy his films for what they are and he’s a likable personality. But you definitely watch the film feeling that money was the goal and not much more. While it had its moments, this film definitely felt like a run of the mill, unmemorable PG-13 action flick. An R rating could have added more grit, but that would mean less money. A better commitment to bring the franchise to a satisfying close would have been better.

I liked the addition of Forrest Whitaker to the film. Right away you knew they were going to do a bit more for him than turn him into your run of the mill police chief. He added humor quite a few times throughout the movie, though he alone isn’t enough to make this a good film.
Maggie Grace is in her 30s now and I have to say I never found her to be a believable teenager, even in the first film. It was actually the worst in the first film honestly. But certain things happen in this film that will mature the character more I think, so in the event that there are sequels, you can buy it.

All in all, if you have to see this film, see it. But while it’s better than Taken 2, you should still keep your expectations low. The first one is far and away the best.  I also wouldn’t buy into the whole idea that “It Ends Here” like we see plastered in large letters on this poster.  I think it won’t truly “end” until they stop making good money off the name. It’s Hollywood after all…

Review + GIVEAWAY!! Burn for Me (Hidden Legacy #1) by Ilona Andrews!

Synopsis:  Nevada Baylor is faced with the most challenging case of her detective career—a suicide mission to bring in a suspect in a volatile case. Nevada isn’t sure she has the chops. Her quarry is a Prime, the highest rank of magic user, who can set anyone and anything on fire. Then she’s kidnapped by Connor “Mad” Rogan—a darkly tempting billionaire with equally devastating powers. Torn between wanting to run or surrender to their overwhelming attraction, Nevada must join forces with Rogan to stay alive.

Rogan’s after the same target, so he needs Nevada. But she’s getting under his skin, making him care about someone other than himself for a change. And, as Rogan has learned, love can be as perilous as death, especially in the magic world.

Review:  I had a lot of fun with this one. To be honest I had my reservations somewhat because the cover is pretty romancey, if not a bit on the cheesy side.  I am more of an urban fantasy fan but I decided to give this one a go since Ilona Andrews is one of my favorite author teams.  Well, they certainly didn’t let me down and in the usual Andrews fashion we’re brought a fantastic level of world building along with good characterization and plenty of funny one-liners.  It doesn’t feel cliche at all.  I enjoyed pretty much every page.  I think if you opened this book wanting pure romance you will be somewhat disappointed, but I think the sequels will probably do a better job of it.  And personally I prefer it that way. I’m more of a fan of the slow burn anyway.  This is a new ship I can really become invested in.

I like that Nevada and Rogan have distinct personalities.  Their chemistry is effortless and it’s actually very well done for one book.  Several of my favorite ships take a little while to build it up to the point of where it feels natural. Rogan’s back story is compelling and I think I would like to see a prequel at some point involving how he built the reputation he has through his military career. I’d love to get more sense of that character’s motivations.  He’s eye candy, yes, but there’s potential for a truly dynamic character here if we get more throughout the sequels.  Nevada, I like her somewhat less at this point, but I wouldn’t say I’m annoyed with her either.  It’s just her naïveté that will certainly chip away given enough time based on the life she’s chosen and the clear trajectory of where it’s going.

I liked the various powers and their levels and how that becomes more of a currency than actual currency. A lot of value is placed on it, but those of lesser abilities have their uses as well.  All in all i finished the book really looking forward to the sequel and the further developments for Nevada and Rogan.  It’s not insta-love and that makes it all the more interesting!

Giveaway

Alrighty! It’s the first one of the year!  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 which Ilona Andrews series is your favorite, which book do you like the most and WHY (though if it’s Magic Breaks don’t say anything because I start that one next week :P). If you’ve never read Ilona Andrews before, that’s okay too, don’t be shy!  There’s a chance you can win this and be enlightened by their greatness :P.

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 1/13/15 – 1/25/15. Good luck!
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Happy New Year! Out with the old, in with the new!

So I had my list for 2014. I managed to get some things done, but I couldn’t quite do them all. It’s okay though.  What I didn’t get to read, I’ll still plan for it.  I own them after all.  I did manage to get a new kindle this Christmas so we’re back in business with more reading.

There have been quite a few film reviews as well this past year and I will list the best from last year and then my top most anticipated of this year.  It’s a pretty short one!  My top 5 from last year:

1. Captain America 2 – The Winter Soldier

It is honestly a film I can watch over and over and not get tired of it.  It blew me away and hot damn that car chase was hella awesome.  Taking place in DC was a nice touch too.

2. Edge of Tomorrow 


This was a lot of fun to see in the theater. It took me by surprise. It was entertaining but it had a good sci-fi story too!  I may not be too keen on Tom Cruise’s antics in his personal life, but he gives good movie.

3. Interstellar


The Nolans have done it again! IMAX was the BEST for this one.  Unless you have a state of the art sound system you won’t be feeling like you’re in a space ship in your home.  It was one of the most immersive experiences I’ve had for a film.  The story was amazing, the acting was great.  Just all around a great time.

4. Into the Woods

I was kind of over the idea when Maleficent came out earlier this year.  But I ended up liking this one leagues more.  Meryl Streep was fantastic as usual and Chris Pine stole the show.  Such a great film.

5. Guardians of the Galaxy


Another fantastically fun summer film.  Marvel is thriving right now and I’m enjoying every minute of it! Definitely my favorite film of the summer.

 

This year I am mostly looking forward to:

1. Avengers: Age of Ultron

May 1

The bar has been set so high for this franchise that I don’t know how good this film will be. But my fingers are crossed and I’m hoping for good things! The first Avenger opened to an unprecedented $207 million.  It crossed a billion in a blink of an eye in total gross. This is gonna be MASSIVE and it has all the good will in the world leading up to it.

2. Fast & Furious 7

April 3

This franchise is one of my guilty pleasures and #SorryNotSorry but I am looking forward to the over the top explosions, bad acting, and hilarious jokes as much as the next fan.

3. Naruto: The Last

February 20

It will have a limited release here in the USA!  You guys think I love The Hollows? Well I was definitely all up in the fandom for this series and I started it around the same time as The Hollows!  So I want to see how this one ends! Well, the manga has already ended and all my ships sailed, but this film details one of them.

4. Cinderella

March 13

It sort of goes back and forth with Sleeping Beauty for me.  My fingers are crossed that they do a job more along the line of Into the Woods and less along the line of Maleficent.

5. Jurassic World

June 7

I love the first film. The sequels don’t even compare. But it’s been a long time and Chris Pratt has been on a role with Guardians of the Galaxy and The Lego Movie. Both critical and commercial successes. 3 times the charm.

Your Urban Fantasy’s Top 10 Books of 2014

I didn’t get around to reading quite as many books as I wanted to this year, but I got a new Kindle fire for Christmas so hopefully things will pick up.  I have certainly compiled enough to make a list!  And my favorites are:

1

The Witch With No Name (The Hollows, #13) by Kim Harrison
My favorite series of all time ended on a high note! And I couldn’t ask for more!

2

Burn for Me (Hidden Legacy, #1) by Ilona Andrews
Review is coming up for this one, but it really surprised me how much I enjoyed it. Of course, It’s Ilona Andrews so I wasn’t too surprised.

3

Skin Game (The Dresden Files, #15) by Jim Butcher
This was certainly the year of catching up with the wonderful Dresden Files.

4

Chaos (Guards of the Shadowlands #3) by Sarah Fine
Review to come but this series ended fabulously. I enjoyed this one the most! I still miss them.

5

Night Broken (Mercy Thompson, #8) by Patricia Briggs
Loved the drama from beginning to end.

6

The Book of Life (All Souls Trilogy, #3) by Deborah Harkness
I didn’t really like the second book of this series quite as much as the first, so it was nice to see this one get back to that Book 1 feeling.

7

Silver Shadows (Bloodlines, #5) by Richelle Mead
While not my favorite of the seried, it certainly has me ramped up for the end!

8

A World Without Princes (The School for Good and Evil, #2) by Soman Chainani
It felt like a middle book, but boy am I looking forward to the final installment!

9

Dirty Magic (The Prospero’s War, #1) by Jaye Wells
Great start to a new series! The sequel is out and I am looking forward to getting my hands on it!

10

The Getaway God (Sandman Slim, #6) by Richard Kadrey
This is my first book of this series, but I look forward to back tracking to see how it all began. Great world building.

HONORABLE MENTIONS

The Well of Ascension (Mistborn, #2) by Brandon Sanderson*
Totally reading book 3 this year

The Queen of the Tearling (The Queen of the Tearling, #1) by Erika Johansen
Good start to a new series!

Into the Woods Review

I wasn’t familiar with the Broadway musical of this film. So thankfully I could come in with a fresh perspective, ready for any and all surprises. And boy were there quite a few surprises! A simple couple running a bakery (played by James Corden and Emily Blunt) desire nothing but a child. But due a long-standing curse of a formerly beautiful witch, they are not able to bear children. However, in a twist of fate, the blue moon will soon rise giving them the chance to break the curse. They journey into the woods to find the right ingredients to reverse the curse, and on their way they meet Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel and Jack, who are all on their quests of their own to fulfill their wishes.

What I Liked: Anytime you give me a new take on an old fairytale I am instantly interested. Throw is more than one and then I’ll be REALLY interested. So the appeal of this movie was a given. And for the most part it lived up to my expectations. Meryl Streep gives a tour-de-force performance, which is par for the course for the revered veteran. I enjoyed her singing probably more than her acting, which was already quite good. Her numbers were really powerful and memorable. I don’t really know why, but I was getting Death Becomes Her vibes from her here. Perhaps it goes back to the character’s superficial desire for beauty.

Right behind Streep, I would have to say my favorite performance goes to Chris Pine as the Prince. I was fully expecting him to pull a James Marsden in Enchanted (I am waiting on a sequel for that one please), but he ends up being very different while still being very funny and charming. He stole the show quite often for the scenes he’s in.

I liked how self-aware the film was at times when things got a bit over-the-top. I felt like the laughs were well placed. Overall I was pleased with the casting, even down to Johnny Depp’s brief appearance donning yet another costume; he’s the Big Bad Wolf this time!

What I Didn’t Like: I am not sure if this is a complaint, just more so an observation. I was a bit surprised with a few of the adult themes of this film, especially regarding infidelity. And there were a few scenes where either I had a complete gutter mind or the double entendre was intentional. I am thinking about Johnny Depp as the wolf pursuing Little Red Riding Hood. I can’t be the only one who had some pedo creeper vibes, especially during his musical number with those fairly suggestive lyrics. I think this film was more like a hard PG rating, if there is such a thing.

Also, I think the film ran a little longer than necessary, while at the same time I wanted to the backstories of the fairytale characters to be fleshed out more. We’re left to fill in the blanks since we’re familiar with the tales already, but I do think it would have helped to enhance the characters.

Overall: This film is releasing at the right time this year. It is a fun family film that’s fitting for the holidays and I enjoyed it a lot more than Maleficent.

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies

We have arrived at the final entry of The Hobbit Trilogy. Did Peter Jackson save the best for last? In this film Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) and his companions must slay Smaug once and for all to reclaim Erebor and its vast treasure. Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage) must juggle between the corruption of greed and maintaining friendship and honor. And Middle Earth has a war on its hands with Men, Elves, Dwarves, and Orcs all fighting, but who is friend and who is foe?

What I Liked: Unlike Desolation of Smaug, while this one was in 3D I did NOT see it in the high frame rate format and for that I am grateful. To me that format is too detailed for my liking and it feels as if I’m either on the set myself as a part of the crew holding the boom mic, or I’m watching a stage play. The sets looked more artificial. So it was a relief that this format was more along the lines of what I’m used to and I’m able to take my imagination to the proper place without that distraction. There was a good bit of humor in the right places as well.

My favorite action moments probably belonged to Legolas (Orlando Bloom). It was clear to me that a lot more time went into making his fights more creative than the others. It was entertaining watching how crafty and versatile he was with or without his trusty bow.

Due to this film I don’t believe the second one needed to be a cliffhanger. The issue of movie 2 was resolved right off the top of the movie. Though perhaps this was done to provide another significant action sequence to break up the potential monotony of the battles. I would say it was one of my favorite parts of the film cinematically.

What I Didn’t Like: I didn’t find the battles quite as engrossing as I had hoped. There was a lot of action, yes, but nothing was particularly memorable save for the final showdown between Azog and Thorin, though it was for entirely different reasons because to me it was a little strange in terms of flow. I understand that it’s CGI but the movements were a little unrealistic to me in some spots and I wasn’t exactly sure what Peter Jackson was going for.

I think the romance aspect was really unnecessary between Tauriel (Evangelnine Lily) and Kili (Aiden Turner). The character was more love fodder than anything else, which I found a bit disappointing in a primarily male dominated film. The character had other things going for her that could have been expanded upon, but I think Jackson went for cheap emotional impact instead. I also didn’t see the point of Legolas pining after her without proper resolution. Overall the romance to me was sloppy and underdeveloped.

Overall: I’m sure people will still be debating the necessity to break this book into 3 films. I wouldn’t say I loved this trilogy more than The Lord of the Rings, but if you are a fan I think it is still enjoyable enough to revisit the world one last time.

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

Exodus: Gods and Kings – Epic Title and Epic Fail…

This film is another retelling of one of the most famous Biblical tales of all time. Moses (played by Bale) rises up again Ramses, the Egyptian Pharaoh, to free 600,000 slaves on a journey of epic proportions to escape from Egypt’s clutches and its cycle of terrifying and deadly plagues.

What I Liked: The special effects were well done. I also enjoyed the cinematography.

What I Didn’t Like: Unfortunately, there was very little to enjoy as a whole for me. The pacing was terrible. The film has a 2.5 hour run time and I still wonder why.

The 3D was pointless. It wasn’t distracting at all, but it could have been incorporated much better, especially during battle scenes. Its PG-13 rating held it back for sure, especially when it comes to portraying their struggles as well as the violence. I believe it could have been done without being gratuitous while still being effective for the viewer. The Bible is brutal. Certain films should be too.

Certain scenes made it come off as borderline satirical and part of the problem is the casting. It was very difficult for me to suspend my disbelief in a few instances. Sigourney Weaver for one. She is one of my favorite actresses. She makes one hell of an Avatar (that was honestly my favorite part of that film), but a believable Egyptian she is not. It honestly felt like she and other cast members were playing dress up. I’m as much of an Aaron Paul fan as the next person who knows anything about Breaking Bad. But I honestly found myself giggling inwardly at his portrayal of Joshua. I am not saying he should be type cast, but in the moment I could only think of him as Jessie Pinkman transported back to BCE. And of course we can’t forget the main man himself, Christian Bale. He does not come out of this one unscathed either. Obviously he has iconic roles and is a fine actor. But we all have our misses and this is definitely one to file away in the “miss” pile, along with his John Connor. While I like his acting, he is just not suited for everything.

The romance was super rushed too. I don’t even think Moses and Zipporah interact for not even five minutes before they are married. No, romance is not at the forefront of the story, but I didn’t find it believable and couldn’t buy into their chemistry, or lack thereof.

Overall: Exodus: Gods and Kings lacks depth that hinders it from being a truly epic retelling. The time was right for it too, so I can only chalk it up to an unfortunate missed opportunity. The best film portraying the story of Moses for me remains The 10 Commandments (1956) with Charlton Heston. That has withstood the test of time. This version won’t even withstand the test of the year.

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

Cyber Monday STEALS! The Undead Pool for $1.25 and The Witch With No Name for $4.00

If you’ve been holding out for that last Hollows novels, then hold out no more! You can own The Undead Pool (Hollows #12) TODAY for $1.25.  Buy it here.

the undead pool, kim harrison, rachel morgan

And if you’re holding out for a good deal on The Witch With No Name, then it will be a while before you see it at $4.00! Buy it here.

I still can’t believe my eyes at these prices!!

Mockingjay Part 1 Review

Katniss Everdeen (played by Jennifer Lawrence) is back for the penultimate installment of the Hunger Games franchise. Split into two films, Mockingjay Part 1 sets the stage for the final show down. After Katniss once again foils the plans of the Capitol in Catching Fire, District 13 recruits her as their final hope, as the symbol of the rebellion.

What I Liked: Let me preface this by saying that Mockingjay was my least favorite book in this franchise. It’s been quite a few years since I’ve read it and I can barely remember all that happened, but it left a bad taste in my mouth. It was boring, Katniss was annoying, and it almost soured me on the series as a whole.

Needless to say, I didn’t go into this very excited to begin with, but I must admit that the movie churned out a better product that was at least watchable. One benefit is that the film does not limit us to Katniss’s POV like the book does where she literally stays in one place while everything else is happening around her.

I thought it was emotionally stirring at times to see the destruction play out on screen. The effects were well done.

I also found myself laughing more than I remember doing while reading the book, and those moments were much needed to lighten the mood somewhat.

What I Didn’t Like: The film also does a good job with Katniss, but that’s not really a good thing. I found her every bit as annoying as I did in the books. She is very whiny and childish yet again. Yeah, I know she’s only 18 but she’s been through some things and I wanted to see more character growth. I wanted a more admirable heroine. I wanted a personality.

This is the only installment without a portion focused on the games and you could argue that the film suffered for it. All the cool and brutal action is a part of what made the first two films so appealing. It’s missing that element in significant doses so the film has more slow moments than the prequels. Not to mention, most of the time when a final book is split into two films the pace tends to suffer for it. Of course because this is part 1 of 2 we have a cliffhanger so that annoys me because the story isn’t complete, but I know that comes with the territory when these book-to-film adaptations decide to ride on Harry Potter’s coat tails for more money.

Overall: I still like the Catching Fire film the most out of this franchise (yep, more than the book), and so far I think Mockingjay the film is worth more attention than Mockingjay the book is. That said, it is not the most exciting entry in the franchise making me think they are saving it up for Part 2.

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