31 July 2014

Tour Stop: The Tesla Gate - John D. Mimms

Tesla Gate

The Tesla Gate - John D. Mimms
Genre: Sci-fi, Paranormal

When a cosmic storm enters Earth’s atmosphere, scientists are baffled by its composition and origins, but not nearly as much as they are by the storm’s side effect – anyone who has died and chosen not to cross over is suddenly stranded here, visible, and can interact with the living. With the world thrown into chaos, Thomas Pendleton is eager to make up for many broken promises to his six-year-old son, Seth. Soon after the storm, they set out on a road trip to the National Air and Space Museum in Washington DC, completely unaware of the social and political maelstrom they’re heading into that will change their lives forever.

Author Bio
john mimmsJohn D. Mimms is a business owner, paranormal researcher, and author. John served as the Technical Director for the Arkansas Paranormal and Anomalous Studies Team (ARPAST). During his four-year tenure with the organization, he helped supervise over 100 investigations and wrote more than sixteen technical articles. One of John's articles, titled "A Christmas Carol Debunked," was read live on Parazona Radio by Paul Bradford of Ghost Hunters International fame. John also wrote the ARPAST technical/training manual which is a comprehensive guide on equipment usage, investigation protocol, and scientific theory for paranormal research. In 2009 John decided to couple his knowledge of paranormal phenomena with his lifelong love of literary fiction. Among his titles are The Great Keep, Death Theory, and The Lemonade Girl. John is currently working on book two of The Tesla Gate trilogy.



I had the dream again last night. It was a recurring nightmare worse than any monster I could conjure in my sleeping brain as a child. I have been an adult now for a number of years, but time and experience don’t make our nightmares any less terrifying, in some ways it makes them more real.

As the father of a mischievously precocious six year old boy, I share the same fear as a multitude of parents, a fear that their child may one day disappear. This worry seems more and more justified each day with another smiling angelic face on the news, snatched from their innocent existence by another real life monster. These monsters are not the ones under the bed, a product of juvenile imaginings. No, these monsters are real and they could live next door; a fact that makes them all the more terrifying.

     This is an international giveaway for a  $25 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash ending 8/17/14.  Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader and sponsored by the publisher. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

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30 July 2014

Wednesday Wishlist #15

This week's Wishlist is all about fairy tales (again).

A Beauty so Beastly - Rashelle Workman
A Beauty and the Beast retelling with some really cool twists; the beauty is the beast, and she is cursed to have no feelings towards others, a man comes to her and is subject to a lot of bad things going on, because she wants to break him. It sounds really interesting and I am pretty intrigued as to what my favourite fairy-tale can become.

A Beauty so Beastly on Goodreads

Fearless - Cornelia Funke
Sequel to the amazing Reckless, in which a boy travels through the Mirrorworld to rescue his brother from a terrible curse. This time Jacob Reckless is dying and he is on a quest to find a legendary item that just might save him. I really need to re-read the first book before I venture into this one.

Fearless on Goodreads

The Girl Who Never Was - Skylar Dorset
A fairy princess reveals her birthday to a stranger and causes devastation. There appears to be an awful lot packed into this one; Fairy courts, insane fathers, murderous mothers, wizards, prophecies, romance, adventure and a ton of quests. Phew.

The Girl Who Never Was on Goodreads


29 July 2014

Top Ten Tuesday #15 - Book Titles that Remind Me of Songs

Top Ten Tuesday is a Meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish where I will be picking from their top tens and attempting to reveal what my thinking is behind these choices.

This one is really a bit of fun. It's just that recently I've been seeing so many books like this I thought it was high time to make a list:

1. Don't You Forget About Me - Kate Karyus Quinn
The title of this creepy novel about a town where teens go a bit mental every four years really reminds me of this classic:

2. I Want It That Way - Ann Aguirre
I go back to my 90s childhood with this title. A little bit of Backstreet Boys never hurt anyone

3. As Long As You Love Me - Ann Aguirre
Another Backstreet Boys song? I think I was obsessed, and I think Ann Aguirre is, too.

4. Take a Chance on Me - Jill Mansell
I love a bit of ABBA, it puts me in entirely the right mood, so I can't help but hum this tune whenever I see this book:

5. Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte
We all knew it was coming. You can't get away from Kate Bush's strange and surreal music, especially when it's all about a very famous classic book. Check out the dancing, please.

6. Our Kind of Love - Shane Morgan
Lady Antebellum suddenly scoots into my head when faced with this particular book title.

7. Maskerade - Terry Pratchett
I know that this book is meant to be a parody of The Phantom of the Opera, and therefore the only thing I ever think of when I see this title is this specific scene:

8. Let Me Love You - Megan Smith
A little bit of R and B courtesy of my teen years sidles in for this title with You Should Let Me Love You by Mario

9. Car Crash Hearts - Kelley York
This one may seem like a bit of a curve ball, but my music taste is really varied. In my later teen years I went into the whole modern rock thing and loved stuff like My Chemical Romance and Paramore. This one makes me break out into Thriller by Fall Out Boy.

10. The Devil You Know - Trish Doller
Thanks to my classic 90s upbringing, the only version of Better the Devil You Know that pops into my head is inevitably the Steps cover... then Kylie.

Which book titles have you bursting out into song?


28 July 2014

Book Blast: Fractured Dream - KM Randall + Giveaway

Fractured Dream by KM Randall
Published by: Booktrope
Published On: June 21, 2014
Genre: Fantasy

Have you ever wondered where fairytales go once they're created?

It's been eight years since Story Sparks last had a dream. Now they're back, tormenting her as nightmares she can't remember upon waking. The black waters of Lake Sandeen, where her Uncle Peter disappeared decades before, may hold the secret to Story's hidden memories, or a truth she'd rather not know. On a bright summer afternoon, Story and her two best friends, Elliott and Adam, take a hike to the lake, where they dive into the cool water and never reemerge. What they find is beyond anything they've ever imagined could be possible, a world where dangers lurk in the form of Big Bad Wolves, living Nightmares and meddlesome witches and gods.

Now Story must remember who she really is and somehow stop two worlds from ultimate annihilation, all while trying not to be too distracted by the inexplicable pull she feels toward a certain dark-eyed traveler who seems to have secrets of his own. The fates of the worlds are counting on her.

Fractured Dream on Goodreads

Fractured Dream on Amazon.com
Fractured Dream on Barnes and Noble
Fractured Dream on iTunes

Author Bio:
As a girl, K.M. always wished she’d suddenly come into magical powers or cross over into a Faerie circle. Although that has yet to happen, she instead lives vicariously through the characters she creates in writing fantasy and delving into the paranormal. When K.M. is not busy writing her next novel, she is the editor-in-chief of a blog covering the media industry, as well as an editor with Booktrope Publishing. She has a master’s degree in journalism from Syracuse University and a bachelor’s degree in English-Lit from Nazareth College of Rochester. K.M. lives in Upstate New York’s Finger Lakes region with her husband and her extremely energetic little boy. Fractured Dream is her first novel.


Please click on the link below to enter this giveaway to win one of five Fractured Dream ebooks. Open internationally.

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Watch out for my review of this book, which is coming soon!


27 July 2014

How to Train Your Dragon 2 - Film Review

Caution: Spoilers for How to Train Your Dragon follow. Ye Be Warned.

It's been five years since Hiccup convinced everyone on Berk that Dragons were nice and friendly, but now trouble is brewing once again. His father, Stoic, wants him to become chief, but Hiccup only wants to go flying with Toothless to explore new terrain. On one of his adventures, he and Astrid stumble upon a group of dragon-catchers (check the term) and hear about a man who is building an army of dragons. This new threat quickly escalates and before you know it, Hiccup has embarked on a whole new adventure.

I could go on and on about how great the first film was. I could say that the mixture of Scottish-accented vikings and adorable dragons was epic. I could say that Toothless is as much a character as every single Viking there, and he's hilarious. I could say that the film appeals to both children and adults. This is all old news for many of you, but I will say that this film does all of that and then adds some more epic on top. In the form of exploring more about dragons and about the area surrounding Berk. Where the first film had no real bad guy, this one takes it up a notch to include a very bad guy and some cronies too. So this guy has some ability to talk to dragons, and he is amassing a dragon army, all enslaved by an Alpha dragon who is doing Drago's dirty-work. One issue; we have no idea how Drago managed to get this giant dragon who could simply crush him with his foot to do his bidding. However, this is a children's film, and since children don't think about things like that, it's not too much of a criticism.

Big themes in this film are those of family and responsibility. Hiccup is 20 years old now, and his father wants him to take care of the entire village. In this film, we see him truly growing up, and with the appearance of his mother (oh come on, we've all seen the trailer) giving him a full family once again, this really gives a coming-of-age feel to the whole thing. One issue though; there's this one scene where his parents start singing; it's completely surreal and kind of stopped the flow of the film. Thank God it quickly escalates to a bit of fun instead of the cringey parent romance it would be perceived as by children and teenagers.

I'd also like to take a moment to appreciate the differences in the animation style and the character design between the first and second films. I have to say that particularly with the younger characters the design is pretty flawless. You know who each character is meant to be, but also you can see the small ways that the artists have built on their teen forms and transformed them into adults. This is especially prominent with Hiccup, who, although he is still skinny, is no longer a gawky-looking boy. The animation style is very slightly different, but that to me is a good thing, as effects are improving all the time.

The ending is brilliant with an epic finale, lots of dragons and lots of action. One truly shocking thing happens and it blew me away that the film-makers decided to do it. However, it really wraps up the plot well, and I left the cinema elated.

How to Train Your Dragon 2 has entertainment value for kids and grown-ups. It merges the hilarious with the serious and the action with more emotional scenes. With the voice talents of Cate Blanchett, Gerard Butler, Dijom Hounsou, Kristen Wiig, Chistopher Mintz-Plasse, America Ferrera, Kit Harington, Jonah Hill and Jay Baruchel, the cast list makes for a pretty impressive read too.  I would definitely reccommend to anyone.

How to Train Your Dragon 2 on IMDB


26 July 2014

The Railway Man - Film Mini Review

A man who was tortured as a prisoner of war still vividly remembers the trauma years later and cannot seem to cope. His new wife struggles and tries to find out more. Based on a true story.

The Good:
  • It has Colin Firth, Nicole Kidman, Jeremy Irvine and Stellan Skarsgard in it, all of whom deliver excellent performances.
  • Jeremy Irvine really does look like the image of the man this film is based on as he was during the war and his voice echoes Colin Firths brilliantly, making him instantly recognisable as his younger self.
  • Based on a true story and doesn't shy away from horrible truths
  • A real story of what it is to forgive and how difficult it is to forget
  • The romance is quite a nice aspect and lets us know that life doesn't simply end once you have been through a war
  • Poignant and satisfying ending

The Bad:
  • Some scenes were graphic and quite horrific.
  • A little slow to start
  • As the film flits between past and present time, some parts could be slightly confusing

The Verdict: 
Probably not for everyone as scenes can be a bit difficult to handle. Very dramatic, very good performances. Recommended for people who like dramas, war stories and films with more than a pinch of truth to them.


25 July 2014

The Reading Pile #6

I still haven't worked my way through to Teardrop yet, but I have a very good reason this month. I've got myself a new job as a copy writer! Finally, those three years working my butt off for University have paid off, and I am so excited to get started. It's going to be a lot of work for me as I'm not completely clued up on the subject matter, but I'm making progress (I think). I therefore apologise in advance for any rubbish or rushed posts that may enter this blog in the next month or so as I adjust to my new working hours and everything else that may come my way.

So back to the real point, here's all the books I got this month!

The Girl With all the Gifts - M.R. Carey
I've heard amazing things about this book and I just had to buy it at Tesco, along with...

The Fault in Our Stars - John Green
I need to read this before I see the film! I teared up at the trailer, so who knows what the book will make me do.. let alone the whole film!

A Beauty so Beastly - Rashelle Workman
A retelling of Beauty and the Beast? Yes please. Also, the cover is gorgeous.

Spell Check - Julie Wright
It was cheap, or free, I can't quite remember. Pretty sure it was free. It sounded intriguing and quite short, so I went ahead and had a little impulse buy.

For Review:
Necessary Evil and the Greater Good - Adam Ingle
An Angel and a Demon team up for a road trip after getting themselves kicked out of the afterlife. Includes a amusingly named Scottish Terrier, bad jobs in heaven and hell, Greek gods, Norse gods and a small town named Truth or Consequences.

Tarnish - J.D. Brink
A tale of bravery, evil marsh creatures and one boys calling to become a hero. It sounds like there might be a little bit of paranormal in here too, with hints at zombies and men turning into animals, but I'm just guessing at that. I've read a few like this before, but from the reviews on Goodreads, I'm expecting some really interesting character-building.

Tomorrow Wendell - R.M. Ridley
Private Investigator Paranormal Zombie-thon. The big difference here is that magic isn't just something you can tap into any old time. Magic is a drug, and using it will eventually kill you. This makes the PI job so much more interesting, because our main character has to use it to make his living.

Dangerous Reflections - Shay West
A YA time travel story where a girl can see other girls from the past in her mirror. The concept sounds really interesting and educational too. I like a little bit of history mixed in with my YA.

Fractured Dream - K.M Randall
Fairytale retellings but not as you know it. It kind of sounds a bit like Reckless by Cornelia Funke mixed with John Connolly's The Book Of Lost Things. Let's hope it lives up to those high standards!

Blog Tour Copies:
Gypsy - Trisha Leigh
I am so excited for this. It's a mixture of x-men-like powers, a dystopian society and YA audience. It sounds completely intense and really interesting.

Thankyou's this month go to:
BookTrope (Particulary Pamela Labbe and Ruth Silver and the authors they represent; Shay West and K.M. Randall)
Adam Ingle
J.D. Brink
R.M. Ridley
Everyone working with Xpresso Book Tours (Trisha Leigh)


24 July 2014

Review: In A Right State - Ben Ellis

It's 2066, and the UK Government is virtually non-existant. Five huge businesses now hold the country in a vice-like grip, controlling everything from what the people are wearing to who is allowed to travel on their roads. Everything is owned by one company or the other and everything is monitored for market research. Duncan has just lost his wife, and he has a secret that he is not willing to share with the corporate world; he has been growing illegal produce. Amy, a Pharmara employee, was friends with Duncan's wife, and once he is found out, she immediately becomes a target. Together, the two of them find themselves hiding from Pharmara, seeking help from people they didn't realise existed and enlisting the help of the daughter of a wealthy businessman, Poppy. Will they ever get away from the corporate world's prying eyes or their lust for power and wealth?

Ellis has created a fascinatingly complex world where no-one is safe from corporate subterfuge, and where anything goes as long as you're the one controlling the information. Our world has grown into one big marketing scheme, dependant on the people to keep buying into the stock, but also not allowing them any alternative. The sheer amount of research and work that has gone into the book is apparent to see, and hurts my head to think about. In fact, that was the one overriding feeling for me; there is so much information here! This is both a good and a bad thing. Bad because sometimes you got a bit bogged down in all the politics and the explanations as to what is happening in the world, particularly in regards to conversations. Good because it has created such an interesting world with a very specific concept based in consumerism.

Ok, I'll be honest. A whole load of this went straight over my head. I got the point about consumerism as well as the huge theme of violation of privacy and about the boundaries that we should have in relation to all of this. However, all of the corporate ideas tended to make my eyes droop a little bit. I'll admit again, I am not big on politics, or corporate warfare, but when I see a dystopian society, I love it no matter what and therefore I love this society. It's like 1984 cranked up several notches and skewed into a futuristic consumers paradise. Oh, and speaking of futuristic, I loves everything about the new ideas we were seeing; electro-magnetic cars, huge wind farms out  into the sea, rising sea levels, GM foods and enormous shopping centres. It is truly an impressive imagined world, and to be honest, it is a scarily realistic imagining, as all of these things are being developed now and could grow to this state.

There was one quite big miss for me, and that was that I never really connected with the characters. To me, they were slightly too far removed from me. I couldn't understand Poppy's motives, I couldn't relate to Duncan and although the girls were easier to get to know, Amy also proved a difficulty for me. The girls were nice and feisty, and I loved the situations that these three got themselves into as well as the whole goose-chase, but for some reason I just couldn't get into their heads properly. It might have been something to do with all that consumer culture getting into my head.

So if you like reading about hardcore subjects such as politics, subterfuge and consumer culture, as well as wanting a little bit of action in the form of hiding from people with too much power, and if you want a scarily realistic futuristic setting, this is certainly the book for you. Please don't read it if you have the attention span of a Goldfish; you will miss something, and you may not get to the end. Speaking of the end, it surprised me a great deal. Although some parts went as expected, there were quite a few occurrences that really were interesting. The pacing really picks up here, and with a slight blip nearing the end, we get a whole lot of unexpected situations. I loved it and although it set me hanging on a slight cliff-edge, I could see the light at the end of the tunnel.

A good read, steadily paced, with enough action to keep your attention and enough interest even for people who are exceptionally intelligent in their reading habits (I am not one of them, but I do try to be). It really is a book that enables you to think about the pressing matters in the world, instead of what is only on your doorstep.


Thank you to Ben Ellis, who kindly gifted me a review copy. This has not affected my rating of this book. PS: I had to laugh at the cover; which depicts a particularly amusing point in the plot.

23 July 2014

Wednesday Wishlist #14

This week's wishlist is pure fiction.

The Caged Graves - Dianne K Salerni

This book sounds awesome. Inspired by a real set of caged graves, this story focuses on a 17-year-old girl who comes back to her home town to find the graves of her mother and her aunt mysteriously caged. No-one will tell her why, but soon she hears rumours of buried treasure and witchcraft. Romance and mystery? Hell yes.

The Caged Graves on Goodreads

The Husband's Secret - Liane Moriarty

A woman finds a letter from her husband that was supposed to be read after he had died, but he is still very much alive, and he has got one whopping great-big secret. I've been itching to know what it is ever since I first read the blurb.

The Husband's Secret on Goodreads

Marina - Carlos Ruiz Zafon
Zafon's books are like air to me. I absolutely must read them or I may die. This particular one is a children's book. Kids vanishing, creepy gravestones, rituals and secrets all set in Barcelona. Sounds enticing.

Marina on Goodreads

Animal Farm - George Orwell
Classic fiction meant to satire communism, set in a farm where the pigs turn into dictators. What's not to like? I am extremely fascinated to see what this book is like. I've ready read 1984 and Brave New World, so I am slowly getting through this lot!

Animal Farm on Goodreads


22 July 2014

Top Ten Tuesday #14 - Characters I Don't Want to Trade With

Top Ten Tuesday is a Meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish where I will be picking from their top tens and attempting to reveal what my thinking is behind these choices.

Warning: Some Serious Spoilers Ahead

Top Ten Characters I Don't Want to Trade With:

1. Prince Maxon - The Selection
I'd be heir to the throne of a torn-up country, with women fighting over me and I'd be constantly scared for my life. To top it all off, I would have to choose a wife out of people who had won some kind of weird lottery to be my wife. Um, no thank you.

2. Frankenstein's Monster - Frankenstein
Being made out of several dead bodies doesn't really float my boat, being abandoned by my creator really doesn't either. I would be really lonely and really angry most of the time, and at all other times I would be chased across the world. It's not really a fantasy of mine.

3. Peeta Mellark - The Hunger Games
Being thrown into a 'game' where someone could kill you at any second is difficult enough. Being in love with a girl who is - please forgive me Katniss fans - a right cow is something else. But what eventually happens to Peeta is so hurtful and horrible, I really wouldn't want to be in his position.

4. Coraline - Coraline
Not only is her story creepy as hell, but her situation is awful. I used to get terrified if I couldn't find my parents, but Coraline somehow is able to stay calm enough to embark on a rescue attempt. I probably would have ended up with buttons for eyes, let's face it.

5. Anyone in the land of Westeros - A Game of Thrones
I was going to pick a particular character who has (so far) lived throughout the entire series, but that would ruin the surprise. Instead, I have picked all of them, because you never know if you are about to die cruelly, you never know who will betray you, who is playing you, who to trust and who not to. I'd rather have an easy life, thanks.

6. Frodo Baggins - The Lord of the Rings
Speaking of an easy life, this guy is looked down upon by almost everyone he meets. He is way too trusting to strange creatures and gets himself into a lot of trouble. He is weighed down by the burden of the one ring and he is occasionally taken over by it. After his ordeal he is never the same happy hobbit he once was. Ugh, sounds exhausting.

7. Voldemort - Harry Potter
I don't know about you, but I wouldn't much like having my soul split several times. I'm not one for murder either, or general evilness, nor do I have a strange fascination for school-boys or pieces of wood. Also, we all know what happens to him, and it's not pretty.

8. Liesel Memminger - The Book Thief
Too much pain, too much death, too much fear and too much destruction. The good parts of her life are wonderful, but the dark parts would probably crush someone like me. Liesel is strong where I could not be.

9. Rosie the Elephant - Water for Elephants
Rosie is misunderstood by many and treated cruelly for much of the story. She is injured several times when certain characters get angry, and is traded from place to place. Eventually she has her revenge, but really it is quite a sad conclusion for Rosie, who has to live the rest of her life with her past haunting her, probably making her scared of anyone but out two main characters.

10. Offred (A Handmaid) - The Handmaid's Tale
Possibly the worst situation I could imagine myself in. Forced to be the carrier for a child I don't want and cannot keep, forced to go to work in colonies if I am not up to the task. Intense fear, forbidden love, and no freedom whatsoever. It is so bleak, and I am glad I don't have to live that life.


21 July 2014

The Grand Budapest Hotel - Film Review

The tale of Zero Moustafa, a lobby boy of the Grand Budapest Hotel, and Gustave H, the charming concierge. When one of Gustave's hotel clients is found murdered, he is left her most prized possession; a priceless painting, but the family will not let this rest so easily. Soon, the two heroes are on a wild adventure, having stolen the painting and been framed for the murder.

The Good:

  • So many awesome actors, including Ralph Fiennes, Tilda Swinton, Bill Murray, Willem Dafoe, Saoirse Ronan and Jude Law.
  • Quirky, funny plot.
  • The new kid, Tony Revolori, who played Zero, was great and delivered his lines with perfect comedic timing. Ralph Fiennes was, as always, extraordinary.
  • Cutest love story ever.
  • Darkly comic with violent scenes and surprising characterisations.
  • A really nice relationship builds between Zero and Gustave.
  • Stunning scenery (models, green-screen and real) and interesting camera shots.

The Bad:

  • It was, at times, really weird and verged on the ridiculous.
  • Cliched story-within-a-story made the beginning really quite boring.
  • Not too fond of that music at the beginning.
  • The historical context was not completely clear to me (I am not good with that kind of thing though)
Overall thoughts:

Clearly this is a love or hate film, judging by all the reviews on IMDB. Wes Anderson films seem to have a very select following who love the sense of pure fantasy that this film brings, whereas others revile the silly nature of the film. These people probably have no sense of fun or humour, because I really liked it. I did finish the film with a kind of 'what the..?' feeling, but nevertheless it was amusing and interesting to watch.

20 July 2014

The Fires of Heaven - Robert Jordan (5 of 14)

Just a quick warning before I start. This review will contain spoilers from the previous books! So if you do not want to know until you have read it I suggest you put off reading this for a little bit.

With Rand al’Thor proclaimed the Aiel’s Car’a’Carn, Chief of Chiefs, he must lead them back across the Spine of the World in pursuit of the Shaido Aiel, who are pillaging Cairhien. Can he save the city itself and if he does will the Forsaken allow him to extend his influence that far? Mat Cauthon has attempted to resolve the answers to his questions but will the result save him from what is to come and prevent him achieving the escape he so desires? Nynaeve al’Meara and Elayne Trakand have defeated the Black Ajah and the Forsaken Moghedien in Tarabon. Now they set out to find the rebel Aes Sedai, but having angered one of the Forsaken will they make it to their intended goal?

The Fires of Heaven is the fifth book of the fourteen book long series of The Wheel Of Time. The book is most noted for being the first in the series to not include an appearance from each of the three main characters. With the newly married Perrin Aybara having saved the Two Rivers from a Trolloc army he is not involved at all in this book. The book also shows Rand al’Thor’s first romantic encounter with Aviendha, an apprentice Aiel Wise One. This makes the third of the three women who Min Farshaw said will love him, with her and Elayne Trakand already identified as the other two.

We also see Rand struggle with his feelings towards women dying because of his actions. With his upbringing telling him that he should do everything to protect any women without regard to his own safety he finds himself with a female Aiel bodyguard, the Maidens of the Spear. With him holding their honour there are a number of confrontations between them which mean in the end that he must allow them to protect him with their lives when necessary. This in turn leads to him becoming hard emotionally to deal with the grief that this agreement will bring him.

Where most of the books have built throughout to a strong and dramatic ending this book is slightly different. We have the first crescendo coming during the Battle of Cairhien, the second coming in the city itself when the battle in concluded and the third incorporating both the events in the Aes Sedai camp with those at Caemlyn in Andor. This adds a very fast end to the book that lasts for a long time as we see events from several view points to give us the full picture.

A very exciting read with an ending that beats anything that we have seen before in the series for both length and drama. You think the book is over only for it to flare up again in your face, right back into the action. With the Dragon Reborn back from the Aiel Waste we again see events speed up and drive towards unseen conclusions. Once again a brilliant read that will demand your attention from start to finish.


19 July 2014

The Wolverine - Film Review

Set between X-Men: The Last Stand and Days of Future Past, this film follows Wolverine as he (yet again) tries to figure out who he is by first becoming a recluse and then dealing with some issues by fighting people. The film begins with a flashback of Nagasaki, the day the bomb hit, and shows Logan saving a young Japanese soldier's life. Now, years later, that soldier is a dying old man and the head of a hugely innovative company. He brings Logan to Japan and tells him that he has discovered a way to allow him to die. Logan refuses but already plans are in place to steal his power. Before he truly realises what is happening, his healing power is lost to him and he is on the run, trying to protect the soldier's granddaughter, Mariko.

Wolverine is a great character, and X-Men are a great idea, but I got the feeling that he is being milked for all he's worth here. I think it may be high time for another character to step up for their own movie. Deadpool, anyone? Anyway, the story-line was actually pretty good, putting Wolverine/Logan into a position he has never been in before; where he is actually able to die. A lot of viewers may wonder how on earth he can still run while riddled with bullets, but that was explained away in the first movie; "Does it hurt when they (the claws) come out?" "Every time." This means that Wolverine is always in pain when he is injured and has learnt to ignore it as usually it heals by its-self.

As for character development, you don't really see much at all. Take every character for face value. It's the same with most action-type movies, to be honest. In this particular film though, you expect Wolverine to grow more as he experiences being mortal for the first time, but he appears to shun this idea entirely and risks his own life repeatedly regardless. Admittedly, he does learn a bit about Japanese culture and gets over Jean Grey, but that's the extent of it.

This is, first and foremost, an action film, and it certainly does that well. X-Men junkies will like the new mutants, but there aren't really many about. Overall this was a nice, entertaining film to watch, but it was overshadowed by the reboots of the franchise. If you fancy something watchable and easy, this is your film, but I like my movies with a little bit more thoughtfulness in terms of characters.

The Wolverine on IMDB


18 July 2014

Review: Guarding Angel - S. L. Saboviec

Guardian Angel Enael has always had trouble connecting with her humans, that is, until she meets the charismatic Kaspen and he teaches her how to understand them. Unfortunately, Kaspen has secrets of his own, and one very big problem in the shape of a former lover, Yasva. When Yasva falls from heaven and becomes a demon, Enael and Kaspen are thrown into peril, along with their humans. Yasva will stop at nothing to get Kaspen back, one way or another, and with her abilities as muse, she gets stronger every day. Yasva has big plans for the world, and it seems that it is up to Kaspen and Enael to stop her.

I loved the idea of this novel; the way that Saboviec has blended traditional ideas of heaven and hell in the Christian sense and mixed them with religions from all over the world. She has taken all the ideas of angels and woven them into a tapestry that blends in perfectly to the story. I loved the way that the angels were ranked, giving new life to old terms such as Seraphim, Nephilim, Archangels, Cherubs, Muses and Guardians, and giving new stations to angels that would be essential to the running of the heaven system. In this book, everyone goes to heaven unless they choose not to, and here humans are reincarnated into other lives to enrich their souls. This makes sense of the feeling of purpose we try to have in our lives. I also liked the fact that hell still exists in this version of life and death, but here the lines are blurred; demons are not always evil. It added another dimension to the book and helped with the overall story, especially the idea of the fearlings.

Enael and Kaspen were very interesting characters. As much as I liked them and understood them, I never really loved them. Maybe they were too far removed from my human state at first, because they both seemed to go through human lives without honestly caring, and their emotions worked in a very different way to my own. However, I did like them more when they began to take control of their own destinies and made their own decisions. Perhaps that is why I felt much more drawn to Yasva. I completely understood her motives, her actions and her words. Everything about her just made sense to me, and she felt like a much more real character.

Another point to make is the romance. Angels seem to love differently to humans and therefore it was a slow, steady kind of relationship. This is fine; I liked that there was no insta-love, and I liked the way the feelings came slowly. However, I never truly saw any spark. Their love was tentative and to be honest, it was more of a companionship than a relationship.

Guarding Angel is a nice read, but I thought it might have been more suitable for me as a holiday book due to the languorous style of the writing. The style was good, but the pacing was slow, even the end, which got slightly more into the action. I can see a lot of potential for the second book, with the biggest focus being on the structure of heaven and control over Earth's plan.

The cliffhanger wasn't so huge that you were gobsmacked. In fact, I expected it. You could see the end coming and you kind of knew what would happen in the end. However, the way the climax weaved its-self into historical events was very well executed; it really lent a sense of place and time, which I felt was missing earlier in the book. I do wonder what will happen during the inevitable struggle in the second Fallen Redemption book, and with Voctic yet to make an appearance, my guess is that it's something to so with his tea shop in Asia.

Overall, this was a good read, suitable for people who prefer smoothly flowing books and different takes on heaven, hell and the afterlife. A must read for someone who loves books about angels.

Thank you to S.L. Saboviec for gifting me a review copy of Guarding Angel. This has in no way affected my rating of this book.


17 July 2014

Tour Stop (Review): Phantom's Dance - Lesa Howard + Giveaway

Phantom's Dance - Lesa Howard
Publication Date: March 1st 2014

Christine Dadey’s family uprooted their lives and moved to Houston for her to attend the prestigious Rousseau Academy of Dance. Now, two years later, Christine struggles to compete among the Academy’s finest dancers, her parents are on the brink of divorce, and she’s told no one about her debilitating performance anxiety and what she’s willing to do to cope with it.

Erik was a ballet prodigy, a savant, destined to be a star on the world’s stage, but a suspicious fire left Erik’s face horribly disfigured. Now, a lonely phantom forced to keep his scars hidden, he spends his nights haunting the theater halls, mourning all he’s lost. Then, from behind the curtain he sees the lovely Christine. The moldable, malleable Christine.

Drawn in by Erik’s unwavering confidence, Christine allows herself to believe Erik’s declarations that he can transform her into the dancer she longs to be. But Christine’s hope of achieving her dreams may be her undoing when she learns Erik is not everything he claims. And before long, Erik’s shadowy past jeopardizes Christine’s unstable present as his obsession with her becomes hopelessly entangled with his plans for revenge.

Phantom's Dance is an extremely contemporary take on the classic tale of The Phantom of the Opera, where opera singing has been replaced by the challenging world of ballet as the main focus. Christine is still a teenage girl, but instead of being an orphan, she has a dysfunctional family. Only the title character and the two lovers are instantly recognisable from the original, and even then, the characters are altered; instead of Raoul being a Count, he is now a quarterback on a football team, for example. Just a tiny bit cliche, but I let it slide because he slotted into the story really nicely that way.

I don't want to talk about how appropriate the content was to the audience, the way that dancing was used very nicely in conjunction with the original theatre setting or the way in which the story goes off at a few teen-relevant tangents which makes it much more than what the original was. No. I want to talk about a few things that really jumped out at me when I finished the book.

It is amazing how something as simple as a change of time and place in a story can change the way you look at it, and nothing is more true than in the depiction of the phantom. The stark truth of my favourite romantic anti-hero is that he is a psychopathic stalker. My opinion of him in this book greatly and disturbingly differed to the opinion I had formed both in reading the original and in watching his portrayal on screen, where his acts are entirely more heinous. Maybe the fact that this could easily happen in reality was lost on me until the story became more realistic to me. Maybe the eerie scenery of the opera and the glamour of the musical masked (pun completely intended) the horror of the man himself, or maybe it was the fact that this particular Phantom had not been born with his disfigurement, and therefore this made him worse in my book. I don't know, but it did really hit home for me.

This book raises some serious issues about strangers, stalkers, harassment, drugs and rape, and is everything that I could have hoped for. The strange quality of the story seeps through the veneer of teen self-obsessiveness and right into the mind of the reader, no matter what their age is. Although some of the scenes are shocking, teen readers need to read it, if only to understand what kind of dangers they are faced with if they are not careful and keep too many secrets. However, it is not just a lesson, the book is a nicely written and well-considered teen read, with plenty of aspects that give it that contemporary feel.

A great introduction to the world of the Phantom, very relevant and very suitable for YA and older teens.

Author Bio:
I'm not the typical author. I didn't always enjoy reading or writing. While in school, I found it to be a chore I'd just as soon skip. I would rather have been daydreaming, my favorite past time. It wasn’t until I grew up and didn’t have to, that I realized reading was fun. I soon discovered that reading fueled my daydreaming. So, remembering a short story I'd written in high school, I began imagining expanding that story into a book. Before long I found I had loads of ideas for not just the short story but other books and stories as well. Fast forward a few years, a lot of studying about writing, practicing my writing, studying some more, taking classes from people who knew what they were doing, studying and practicing yet more, and ta-dah, author! In the same way I had learned I loved reading, I learned I loved writing, too. It’s just that writing is a lot harder than reading.

Author links: 

This is an international, tour-wide giveaway, ending July 29th for a Signed copy of the book, a Phantom mask, a Dahlia from the Phantom and a $20 gift card for a book seller of your choice.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


16 July 2014

Wednesday Wishlist #13

This week's wishlist is focusing on parallel lives and worlds.. and twins. My own book is set mostly in a parallel universe, so these books are almost research for it. Linked is simply because I am a twin and I get interested in how people write us.

Pivot Point/ Split Second - Kasie West
A girl with the power to see the outcomes of choices she makes. She has to choose between two lives, knowing what the outcome of this choice will be. Things get even more tangled up when her father is asked to consult on a murder. A novel all about the making the right choices, possibly in a similar vein to Between the Lives (reviewed here).

Pivot Point on Goodreads

Parallel - Lauren Miller
Another book about suddenly landing in a parallel life, this time the MC has already made a choice that she didn't mean to make, landing her miles away from where she really wanted to be. One day she wakes up in a different life; the life she wanted, while her parallel self continues in her old life. Oh, and did I mention that every time her parallel self makes a choice, this MC's world changes too? Sounds awesome.

Parallel on Goodreads

The Dark World - Cara Lynn Shultz
Dead best friends, demons, warlocks, war and a dark world overrun with demons. It sounds good, and this Dark World sounds nice and creepy, hopefully on the same scale as the hellish one in Constantine.

The Dark World on Goodreads

Linked/ Unravel - Imogen Howson
Twins who can feel each-other's pain and see through each-other's eyes. Not only that, but there's a Government conspiracy and one of these twins knows something that could tear the world apart. It sounds like a super-sci-fi from all the rave reviews, so hopefully the twin thing won't bug me too much! Sounds fascinating.

Linked on Goodreads


15 July 2014

Top Ten Tuesday #13 - Issues With Book Borrowers

Top Ten Tuesday is a Meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish where I will be picking from their top tens and attempting to reveal what my thinking is behind these choices.

My sister borrowed a book the other day. Now, she knows what I like and don't like, but what I was worried about was that her boyfriend might not. I'm not saying he isn't a reader and doesn't understand; he does read, but he may not share my passion for beautiful-looking books. The book in question was Half Bad by Sally Green, and the cover is great. There is no way in hell I'd let anyone injure it. Anyway, despite me fretting he might sit on it or something, it came back to be unscathed. Some of my other books, however, have not been so lucky in the hand of other borrowers. So here's my Top Ten Issues with Book Borrowers:

1. Dog-Eared pages
So some people dog-ear their pages out of habit, I get it. It's easy and good for when you don't have a bookmark. However, it is my book, and I have a thing about keeping my books as pristine as possible, this includes creased up pages!

2. Creased spines
Maybe it's just me, but I absolutely can't stand leaving a book open upside-down to keep a page. Again, bookmarks people! I caught my mum doing this with one of my favourite authors and I nearly had a fit. That cover is now permanently creased and therefore ruined forever (OK, not quite ruined, it's still readable, but the pages might fall out at any time).

3. Their cat/ kid/ gross boyfriend gets their hands on it.
I may trust my friend with the book (having given them very strict guidelines) but what if someone else picks it up? What if their child picks it up with peanut butter all over their fingers, or their cat wants to use it as a litter tray, or their husband discards it flippantly into a corner and a page creases? It's not even worth thinking about.

4. Crumbs.
I don't like finding random things inside my books. This involves crumbs, blobs of ketchup, coffee stains and small insects.

5. They're too slow.
What if I miss the book and must read it again immediately. My patience is fairly good, but some people take a very long time to read a book.

6. They never give it back to me.
I only give books to people I can trust now (and pester). Not that I've ever had one stolen, I just didn't want to risk it. In fact, the only people I really give books to now are my family really, and they're stuck with me and my whiny ways.

7. They don't like it.
I worry too much, it's true. But sometimes if I've seriously loved the book and have been hounding someone to read it, I feel guilty if they then don't like it as much as I did. I feel bad whenever I tell someone a book is good and they read it only to disagree. It makes me worry about my capacity as a reviewer and a writer.

8. They let someone else read it while they're borrowing and don't ask me first.
They would probably never do this, but if my precious book is lost forever to me due to their trust, I would probably vow never to give them a book again.

9. They don't finish the book.
My worst nightmare. I tend to give people books that I have already read because I want to discuss them at great length afterwards. The only things is, if they never finish the book, A; they didn't like it and B; how can they talk about it if they don't know how it ends?!

No number 10 today, but to be honest, I feel like nine is more than enough worries about what other people may do to my precious books. I think I have a very serious problem.


14 July 2014

Review: Bitterblue - Kristin Cashore

Warning: Bitterblue is the Third book in the Graceling Realm Series. Please note that spoilers for the previous books are described here.

Bitterblue is Queen, but her Kingdom is a wreck. The people are still affected and oppressed by Leck's reign, even though it ended years ago. Bitterblue, not content with being cooped up in her office and fed paperwork, decides to take things into her own hands by exploring her city in disguise. What she discovers is that the lies and secrets of King Leck run deeper than she ever thought they could, and they are all caught up in a web of death, books and ciphers that began with her father's fixation on another land.

As always, Cashores world-building is flawless. The story transports you into the Graceling realm to Bitterblue City until your are stealing into the night with the Queen yourself. Of course, the ideas for gracelings and monsters are already fully established thanks to the first two books, but it is very easy to go back to that world, even if you have not read the previous books recently.

The character arc for Bitterblue is stunning; full of emotion, determination and realisations. Bitterblue struggles with finding out the truth about her father and the atrocities that he committed during his reign, and has to deal her own emotions as well as those of everyone affected by him. As she comes to realise the full extent of what he has done to her Kingdom, she also has to deal with the pressure to put things right again. Honestly, the range of emotions and difficult situations to be dealt with in this book is extraordinary. Bitterblue is a great protagonist, and I love the way that she is so well-rounded, full of compassion but succumbs to anger and fear just as easily. However, I was slightly disappointed by some other familiar faces, as they tended to flit in and out of the book regularly. In fact, only Po really became integral to the plot in any way.

The theme of grief and healing was very important in this book, and I love the way the author dealt with it in that although some parts were distressing, the way that Bitterblue reacts to it is very human and very understandable. It will resonate with a lot of readers on a very raw level.

As much as the book was a good read, and the ending was satisfying, there was something missing for me. The pace of the book seemed to crawl and although a lot was happening, it didn't keep my eyes open at night. The idea of ciphers was clever and well-researched, but the reading of it, and in fact the reading about Bitterblue's time in the library made for dull reading for me.

As much as I liked knowing that Bitterblue makes a great Queen, the book didn't wow me the way its predecessors did and I could have gone without reading it. Still, this is a good read for anyone who enjoys fantasy and the Graceling Realm series. Fire still remains my favourite book of the series.

Bitterblue on Goodreads


13 July 2014

Review: Insanity - Cameron Jace

Alice Pleasance Wonder is a patient in an insane asylum, locked up for the murder of several classmates two years ago. The problem is, she can't remember any of it, and she definitely can't remember ranting on about going to Wonderland when she was seven years old. Life is a boring ritual until one day another inmate known as 'Pillar the Killer' takes a sudden interest in her, and gives her the mans to escape her confines every day in exchange for her assistance. Carter Pillar has a motive though, and Alice is quickly swept up into a mad hunt for the Cheshire Cat killer and a little girl who has been kidnapped by him.

If there was ever a book that has gone well beyond the expectations of research, it is this one. It is utterly filled to the brim with quotes, characters and references from the original Alice in Wonderland books as well as Carroll's other works. It has dipped into the life of Lewis Carroll as well in order to give a cohesive and twisty plot. Most of this information is absolutely integral to the plot, meaning that unlike other books, nothing has just been thrown in. In fact, the whole idea of the reincarnation of the Wonderland monsters in modern human beings fits in a flows flawlessly with every part of the research.

The book is named Insanity for good reason; the main theme is madness and what it is to be insane. Alice continually questions herself, her sanity and her actions throughout the entire book and sometime this can feel quite repetetive, however the truth is that the original book is much the same; it questions the very belief in madness, what we think it is and what the reality might be. If everyone is mad, does that mean that really we are all sane? If someone believes they are sane, does that mean they are mad, because sane people tend to question themselves? Finally, is a mad person just someone who knows too much? Insanity captures this idea and questions it thoroughly. The book reflects its inspiration beautifully, as someone may say something totally odd, and yet in the context it completely makes sense. (Note to self: why is a raven like a writing desk?)

The 2010 film of Alice in Wonderland seems to have played an enormous part in the conception of this book. In both retellings, Alice continually questions whether she is the right Alice, she has the ability to save people even though she hasn't tried before, she is older and cannot remember her original trip to Wonderland. Also, Tim Burtons Wonderland and Cameron Jaces story are both powerfully dark retellings of this classic story, taking on a much more sinister tone.

A small note on characters; I didn't really ever feel for the characters. Even Alice was separated from me, even though I could understand her actions and her feelings perfectly well. Every character introduced did not have the depth that I would have wanted in the book. Bearing in mind this is a small book, and appears to be part of a series, this may not be so bad, as the characters will continue to grow and develop throughout. I will say though, that although Alice did have a character arc, it crashed down in flames at the end, which really makes me wonder what is going to happen in the next book.

Insanity on Goodreads


12 July 2014

I, Frankenstein - Film Review

Mini Review

Frankenstein's monster still lives today, battling a force of demons without our knowledge. He has been hunted by them for 200 years, and now he is about to find out why.

The Good Stuff:

  • It starts out as the classic tale of Frankenstein (missing a couple of details of course, or this wouldn't work), and then turns into a fantastical modern-time war with the monster trapped in the center. 
  • Aaron Eckhart's acting is pretty sound, and his voice could give Christian Bale's Batman a run for his money in the sore-throat department.
  • The idea of God-made gargoyle people is really cool, and I can see it taking off in literature (hint, hint, paranormal/fantasy authors). It's not something I've ever really heard of apart from in Disney's The Hunchback of Notre Dame, and then they were just as comedy characters.
  • Surprisingly religious notes, talking about souls and demons.
  • Also stars Bill Nighy (Davy Jones in Pirates of the Carribean), Miranda Otto (Eowyn in LOTR) and Jai Courtney (Bruce Willis's son in A Good Day to Die Hard)
The Bad Stuff:
  • The effects are good up to the point where you see the demons, then you realise they could have been way better. The design of the demons could have used more work, they were pretty unoriginal and not scary.
  • Bill Nighy was misused. He has such a prescence and here he hardly makes an impact at all.
  • Plot Obviousness. It was totally clear exactly why the demons wanted Frankenstein's monster in the first place.
The Iffy Stuff:
  • Commonly with the story of Frankenstein, people forget that Frankenstein was the inventor, not the actual monster. Now, this story calls the monster Frankenstein due to the fact that the monster is his creation, and therefore is his son. This is iffy logic and to me only adds confusion. Why not carry on calling him Adam? It happened in the book!

The Verdict:
Very watchable and good for those who like action and retellings. I would totally watch it again, and just try to ignore the dodgy-looking demons.

I, Frankenstein on IMDB

11 July 2014

Tour Stop (Review): Perfected - Kate Jarvik Birch

Perfected - Kate Jarvik Birch
Release Date: 07/01/14
Publisher: Entangled Teen

Synopsis (from Goodreads):
Perfection comes at a price.

As soon as the government passed legislation allowing humans to be genetically engineered and sold as pets, the rich and powerful rushed to own beautiful girls like Ella. Trained from birth to be graceful, demure, and above all, perfect, these “family companions” enter their masters’ homes prepared to live a life of idle luxury.

Ella is happy with her new role as playmate for a congressman’s bubbly young daughter, but she doesn’t expect Penn, the congressman’s handsome and rebellious son. He’s the only person who sees beyond the perfect exterior to the girl within. Falling for him goes against every rule she knows…and the freedom she finds with him is intoxicating.

But when Ella is kidnapped and thrust into the dark underworld lurking beneath her pampered life, she’s faced with an unthinkable choice. Because the only thing more dangerous than staying with Penn’s family is leaving…and if she’s unsuccessful, she’ll face a fate far worse than death.

For fans of Keira Cass’s Selection series and Lauren DeStefano’s Chemical Garden series, Perfected is a chilling look at what it means to be human, and a stunning celebration of the power of love to set us free, wrapped in a glamorous—and dangerous—bow.

Ella is perfect; trained to be poised and elegant, to speak politely, to behave impeccably and to look stunning at all times. She is the perfect pet until one day she realises that she wants things she is not allowed to have.

Let's start with the characters. For a fairly short book, all of the main characters were extremely well-developed. I simply adored Ruby, and loved how the perceptions of characters like the congressman, his wife and Penn changed over time. Ella and Penn were both drawn beautifully with rounded ideals, loves, hates and dreams that neither of them were meant to have. This is truly a story about embracing every part of you and being happy in your flaws, but it is also a story about going out and getting what you want, no matter what others might say or think. Ella could have easily been a Mary-Sue, but thank God for her incredible naivety to begin with, then her confusion and indecision later in the book.

The themes running through this book are really interesting, and they were the ideas that made me want to host this tour in the first place; cloning and possession of humans. It is strange to think that others could think less of someone due to their status as a clone, as if they aren't real people. Of course they are! Aren't twins technically clones? As a twin myself, I can honestly say that I do not feel as if I have half of me missing; I am as much a whole as the next person. Anyway, the possession aspect really makes you think. Once upon a time animals were wild too, and we tamed them, interbred them and owned them. Is this a barbaric practice? It feels like it is barbaric to own another human being; it brings back thoughts of slavery and makes you remember that not everyone does have freedom. It is nice to see someone addressing these ideas in a western setting, because many westerners do not realise that slavery is something that still goes on today. Trafficking, the sex trade, forced marriage, child labour and bonded labour are all modern forms of slavery that still need to be abolished.

There were a few flaws within this read, the largest one being that some of the plot twists were very obvious. I found that I knew why the previous pet left the house pretty much as soon as the first hint was read, very near the beginning of the book, and this was only confirmed at the end. Maybe to a YA reader, this may not be so obvious, though, and if anything it reinforces Ellas naivety.

An engrossing read about forbidden love and ownership with a truly heartbreaking ending, putting me in mind of Wither and The Handmaid's Tale. If there is a second book, I will definitely be keeping an eye out!

Author Bio:
Kate Jarvik Birch is a visual artist, author, playwright, daydreamer, and professional procrastinator. As a child, she wanted to grow up to be either a unicorn or mermaid. Luckily, being a writer turned out to be just as magical. Her essays and short stories have been published in literary journals including Indiana Review and Saint Ann’s Review. She lives in Salt Lake City, Utah with her husband and three kids. To learn more visit www.katejarvikbirch.com

Author Links: http://www.katejarvikbirch.com/ 

Thank you to Entangled Teen, Kate Jarvik Birch and YA Bound Book Tours for this opportunity.

Perfected Blog Tour
Blog Tour Organized by: YA Bound Book Tours