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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!

Think Like a Man Too Review

All the couples are back for a wedding in Las Vegas, but plans for a romantic weekend go awry when their various misadventures get them into some compromising situations that threaten to derail the big event.

I saw this film without seeing the original. I figured this movie wouldn’t be so heavy on back story that I would have to worry about being lost.  Turns out I was right.  If you’re in the mood for a silly brainless comedy then this film is for you.  Based on the trailer there are next to no surprises.  You know what you’re getting when you sit down, so you might as well just go along for the ride.  Kevin Hart is definitely not short on work these days. I don’t think anyone doubts that he’s the “it” funny guy right now.  He’s been on a role with a string of successful comedies as of late if we think back on the  moderate successes of About Last Night and Ride Along, and now he can add this to his list.

Think Like a Man Too put a lot of focus on the female perspective as well so it felt more so like “battle of the sexes” than the title suggests.  There was  no shortage of laugh-out-loud scenes. The audience seemed to enjoy it but the comedy in general was pretty shallow. I don’t know if it’s because I didn’t see the first film but I wasn’t very emotionally invested in the couples or their ultimate fates or the characters in general.  Those aspects felt very contrived and only a handful of the cast gave noteworthy performances which was a bit of a let down because I like most of the actors from their prior works.   While I wasn’t bored, the film came off as formulaic and it seemed like it was more or less cashing in on the success of the original.  At this point, when it comes to films and comedies Vegas just seems too easy.  While the film opened strong at the box office, it wasn’t as strong as the original and the budget was twice as much, so I don’t know if we’ll see another sequel.  It didn’t pull a 22 Jump Street opening to about $20 million more than its original, that’s for sure.  Think Like a Man Too proved to me that the writers didn’t really have much left in the tank anyway, so I think it’s be better if this franchise stops here.

The first film had been sitting on my DVR for a couple of years so after seeing Too I decided to watch the original.  I think Too took a more slapstick approach to its comedy and that held it back.  While the first one wasn’t a brilliant film by any means, I enjoyed it more and it felt deeper than the sequel. It was also interesting to note how more involved Steve Harvey was with the first one as opposed to Too where I don’t recall any appearances or even a mention.  It’s based off his book after all, is it not? The quality was much better and more memorable.  All in all, Think Like a Man Too is not really worth a view in the theatres.  It can definitely wait for TV if you’re curious about it.

Dissonance (Dissonance #1) by Erica O’Rourke

Synopsis: Delancy Sullivan has always known there’s more to reality than what people see. Every time someone makes a choice, a new, parallel world branches off from the existing one. Eating breakfast or skipping it, turning left instead of right, sneaking out instead of staying in bed ~ all of these choices create an alternate universe in which an echo self takes the road not travelled and makes the opposite decision. As a Walker, someone who can navigate between these worlds, Del’s job is to keep all of the dimensions in harmony.

Normally, Del can hear the dissonant frequency that each world emits as clear as a bell. But when a training session in an off-key world goes horribly wrong, she is forbidden from Walking by the Council. But Del’s not big on following the rules and she secretly starts to investigate these other worlds. Something strange is connecting them and it’s not just her random encounters with echo versions of the guy she likes, Simon Lane. But Del’s decisions have unimaginable consequences and, as she begins to fall for the Echo Simons in each world, she draws closer to a truth that the Council of Walkers is trying to hide ~ a secret that threatens the fate of the entire multiverse.

Review: I read the synopsis of this book and it was a no brainer to give it a go. I thought the title was a good one and it made me think back to my college psychology course when we studied the concept of cognitive dissonance, which is more or less our need as humans to keep our moral beliefs and ideas consistent with our actions.  The premise is very interesting and it’s a relatable subject.  We’ve all wondered “what if” when it comes to the decisions we make in life.  This book gives us a chance to explore those “what ifs” as it applies to the Key World.  The world building is well done.  Erica O’Rourke does a thorough job of explaining how the multiverse work and how a Walker fits into them.  Though I did constantly question how plausible this could be. With 6.5 billion people in the world, every single decision they make creates a new alternate reality (they’re called “echoes”) and then those echoes are capable of creating their own echoes…how can that really sustain?  It seems extremely overwhelming.

I thought the world building was better developed and more interesting than the actual characters unfortunately. Del is okay, but there’s nothing particularly interesting about her to set her apart from other mainstream YA heroines.  Her older sister, Addie, is a begrudging sidekick. She’s the opposite of Addie adopting a by-the-book approach to everything in life.  She’s the ultimate teacher’s pet.  She reminded me a lot of Sydney Sage from Richelle Mead’s Bloodlines series, but I just didn’t find her as likable as Sydney.

Right off the bat we know that this book fill focus heavily on her relationship with Simon, the popular jock who is every bit as dreamy in echo form. He’s a bit of a playboy, making him prime real estate for any girl who believes they can conquer him and be his one and only. Of course Del’s one of them even though she won’t admit it to herself. All the while she’s got that life long friend she’s grown up with since childhood who has loved her for forever, but he’s in that perpetual friend-zone.  Does this dynamic sound familiar?   That type of drama brought the book down for me somewhat.  This is a YA book so I understand why those aspects get focus, but I found myself more times than not wanting to see what was going on with the adults and other Walkers.  The romance aspect overall was dry and contrived.

I thought the book was too long and I thought the final confrontation could have been stronger. I was left wanting to see a real villain, but it didn’t really turn out how I thought it would.  It’s also arguably a cliffhanger ending so if you’re not a fan of those you might want to wait until the second book is released.  Overall, there were some good things here. I would like to see more of it the next time around as well as stronger characterization.  I am interested in reading the sequel so I think that’s a good sign.

*ARC Provided by the Publisher

GIVEAWAY SWAG! All Souls Trilogy by Deborah Harkness

Book of LifeFor those of your All Souls Trilogy fans, I have great news! I’m teaming up with Penguin to bring you all several All Souls Goodies! For this month we’ll be giving away a couple of cool prizes:

1) A Holographic BOOK OF LIFE button

2) Diana’s commonplace book as featured in Shadow of Night! The book looks wonderful and is full of never before seen tidbits from the books. Here’s a preview:

CommonplaceSpreadMockUp1
CommonplaceSpreadMockUp2
This is all leading up to a giveaway of The Book of Life coming up in July! Can’t wait! I doubt I have any newbies here, but entry directions are below:

How to Enter (PLEASE READ CAREFULLY): My giveaways are only open to followers of Your Urban Fantasy who are 18 years of age or older. In order to enter YOU MUST COMMENT ON THE ANNOUNCEMENT POST AND INDICATE YOU HAVE DONE SO ON THE RAFFLECOPTER WIDGET! If you’re a new member, sign up on the right panel to follow my blog via email. (Make sure to check your email to confirm your subscription. You should receive a notification immediately, so check your spam folder if you don’t see it right away). Current followers can just say so in their post. The next four opportunities are for bonus entries. Overall, there are up to 4 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” 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 tell me what you’re most looking forward to in this book! 

The giveaway will run from 6/16/14 – 6/22/14. Good luck!
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22 Jump Street Review

After making their way through high school (twice), big changes are in store for officers Schmidt and Jenko when they go deep undercover at a local college.

I didn’t even bother watching 21 Jump Street when it came out. I thought it was just another poor remake of an 80s classic and just another example of Hollywood being completely out of ideas.  And then it finally came on television, I gave it a chance, and I ended up loving it.  I bought the blu-ray so that I could watch it anytime.  Then I heard they’d be doing the sequel and I was once again skeptical.  It’s easy to try to cash in on a sleeper hit with a less funny follow-up. You’re guaranteed a good box office earnings based on the goodwill of the original–I’m looking at you Hangover Part II and Part III.

I avoided all trailers and publicity for this film because one of the things I can’t stand is how trailers pretty much give away the movie and show some of the best scenes.  After finally seeing the film I believe my persistence paid off! I went in with everything feeling fresh and I can honestly say the sequel is just as good as the original. One of the best parts about it is the tongue-in-cheek approach it takes. The film is completely self aware and makes its status the butt of the joke. It purposely sticks to a similar layout of the first film, it just puts that college spin on things which allows them to push the envelope a little more.

Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum have great chemistry as unlikely friends in this buddy cop romp. They definitely play on their strengths and weaknesses which only makes the film funnier.  If you liked Ice Cube in the first film then you’ll love him here. He steals every scene he’s in and probably has the top two scenes of the whole film.  I won’t say what but the crowd was howling.  Honestly the crowd seemed to enjoy the film all throughout. This is definitely one of the best comedy sequels I’ve seen and it has one of the best ending credit sets as well. It did extremely well at the box office making $57 million this weekend, proving once again that there is a place for R-rated comedy. It’s my favorite type of comedy (Wedding Crashers, Tropic Thunder to name a few) so I’m happy to see it going strong.  If you haven’t seen the first one, you definitely should if you plan to see the second one. The jokes really go hand in hand.