31 August 2014

Review: Winter's Heart - Robert Jordan (9 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.

In hiding from both his enemies and his allies, Rand al'Thor must now attempt the impossible and cleanse the taint from Saidin before the Asha'man can destroy the world in a second Breaking. Perrin Aybara sets out to rescue his wife Faile Bashere from the Shaido, but how far is he willing to go to see his wife returned to his side? Mat Cauthon is trapped in Ebou Dar by the Seanchan invasion but has no intention of staying longer than he has to. With his plans in full swing will the Daughter of the Nine Moons put a stop to them as soon as they begin? Meanwhile Elayne Trakand, having broken the Dark One's hold on the worlds weather, attempts to claim the Lion Throne of Andor but has her mother, Morgase, done too much damage to convince the other nobles that she is worthy to rule?

Winter's Heart is the ninth of fourteen books in Robert Jordan's fantasy series The Wheel of Time. The book is named for the increasing coldness of Rand's heart as well as a return to a deep and unforgiving winter after the Dark One freezing the seasons. The book immediately rose to the number one position on the New York Times Bestseller List and remained on the list for two months. The book was noted for being the first to release the prologue, Snow, on ebook two months before the book was released. We see a welcome return of Mat to the story line after being left out of the previous book, The Path of Daggers. We see a coldness developing in Rand that shows very strongly through the clever use of his bond to Min Farshaw. This gives us our first view into Rand from a view other than himself. With the return of Mat we see a return to some of the humour that may have been missing from the previous book in his absence.

After improving in the last book Winter's Heart brings us right back up to par. With all three main characters re-installed we return to the fast paced, dramatic and unpredictable story lines that we have come to expect. As with all of the best books in the series we see big climaxes to each plot in the final chapters of the book that leave you speechless and unable to wait to get started on book ten!


30 August 2014

Divergent - Film Review

I read the book to this film a long, long time ago, and quite frankly, I like it that way. When you neglect to re-read just before you watch the film version, you tend to see it for what it is instead of nit-picking wrong or misplaced elements. I could remember the main plot but not much else, and the ending was a rather confusing jumble where I could remember how it all went down. That suited me just fine.

Divergent is a dystopian YA fiction set in a  world where people are divided into five factions, when they are a certain age, they undergo tests to discover which faction they belong in, and then they choose where they should be. Tris, out protagonist, gets inconclusive results on her test, marking her as a divergent and a threat to the way of life. She manages to place herself in the worst possible position when she opts to enter Dauntless, a free, fearless but harsh faction, where her nature could be discovered at any moment.

One thing that struck me straight away about the movie was that the explanation of the world was extremely rushed in order to get to the action, meaning that perhaps some in the audience don't fully understand the first few scenes where Tris and her brother choose other factions rather than the one they were born into. However, I don't see that as too much of an issue as you get the idea of the main factions involved as you watch the rest of the film.

Tris was acted very well by Shaliene Woodley, as her cleverness, determination and general kick-ass attitude shone through. Her range of emotions as opposed to the book weren't quite there, as in some scenes when you know Tris is terrified, she appears all too calm. A little bit of sweaty palms or twitchy fingers wouldn't have gone amiss there, though I understand that it would have been quite difficult to show her exact emotions. Four (Theo James) was pretty good too, and I think the right actor was chosen for the job sine he comes across really scary at first, and although he stays that way, his actions speak louder. The one thing that bugged me about the characters was the fact that it was very hard to differentiate between Al, Peter and ?, who all looked far too similar. Considering that Al at least was described rather differently in the book, I'd say that was a poor judgement call in order to get more good-looking boys onto the screen. Some famous faces included Kate Winslet, whose acting was fair but she didn't get much screentime, Jai Courtney, who was really cool, . while they were good, none really stuck out to me.

The depiction of the world was something that very pleasantly surprised me. everything looked extremely similar to how I envisioned it being as I was reading. Maybe the Dauntless camp could have looked a little bit more dangerous though.

As for content, the plot stayed very close to the book, and if there were any discrepancies, I never noticed. I was pleased to see one major event included that I had not expected after no-one fell to their deaths during initiation. Some elements have been left out, but honestly I felt that it lent to the overall pace of the film.

This is a very engrossing film and a really great story. It has very much spurred me on to read both Insurgent and Allegiant, which had fallen by the wayside until now. I can't wait to see what the film-makers do with the rest of the series, even though I haven't read them yet!


29 August 2014

Tour Stop (Review): Gypsy - Trisha Leigh

Gypsy by Trisha Leigh 
(The Cavy Files #1)
Publication date: May 13th 2014
Genres: Science Fiction, Young Adult


For Gypsy and the other Cavies, Darley Hall has been home for the majority of their lives. Sure, there are the experiments, but they have people who look after them and friends they can count on. That is, until it gets raided by the police and the Cavies find themselves exposed to the world outside Darley. From then on ,they have to conceal their powers for fear of being discovered.

Gypsy was considered inconsequential at Darley Hall compared to the other Cavies. The power to know what age someone will be when they die simply by touching them is not considered very useful when others have the power to disappear, to explode things and to move at the speed of light. However, when she is in the world outside she can flourish. Her power is easily concealed and so she can fit in more easily than the rest of them. Just as she starts to relax Gypsy and the other cavies are injected with an unknown substance that begins affecting their powers. 

When I heard of this book, the first thing that it reminded me of was not X-Men, as it's chalked up to be, but Numbers by Rachel Ward. In both stories, the heroine also knows when people are going to die through a special power. The difference is that Numbers predicts the date of death, whereas Gypsy predicts the age at the time of death. If anything, Gypsy's power seems more useless and more psychologically damaging, as there is no way she could stop it if she doesn't know the date. This can have a huge effect on her relationships and as a result she tries not to touch people. The book is a little bit like X-Men, as there are awesome powers, superhero names (that I shall talk about soon) and a school for mutants where they develop and hone their powers (OK, so Darley isn't really a school for mutants, but just work with me here).

As well as feeling a bit comic-book sci-fi, there's also tons of Government intrigue, part Scooby Doo detective story and a YA element in terms of relationships and teen issues. Trisha Leigh combines lots of different ideas here but still manages to make you remember that these are still teenagers going through the usual life problems, only with more at stake.

As I was saying earlier the super-heroesque names are particularly clever. I'll give some examples. Gypsy, first of all is named so because of her power to basically see into the future. Haint, which is a kind of ghost, can dissappear at will.These are the names that Darley Hall gave them, and they all make a cool, sometimes cruel, sense.

Gypsy herself is a likeable heroine, she's clever and interesting and her emotional journey through the novel kept my attention. It was clear how much she cared for the other Cavies, and how difficult it was for all of them to fit in with society. As it's written in first person it's easy to see where her loyalties lie.

There are many themes running through this novel. The main ones being family and friendship, fitting in with society, embracing your differences, trust and betrayal, feeling insecure and some romance ( though i found that there was just the right amount of it. It didn't detract from the story but emphasised how awful her power could be).

Without giving too much away, Gypsy ended well, albeit on a bit of a cliffhanger, but don't let that put you off. The storyline issues were resolved but there are still so many things I need to know the answers to.

I loved the idea and execution of this book, and I cant wait to see what happens to the Cavies next! I would recommend to people who love sci-fi, mystery, YA or super heroes.

Gypsy on Goodreads

Author Bio:
Trisha Leigh is a product of the Midwest, which means it’s pop, not soda, garage sales, not tag sales, and you guys as opposed to y’all. Most of the time. She’s been writing seriously for five years now, and has published 4 young adult novels and 4 new adult novels (under her pen name Lyla Payne). Her favorite things, in no particular order, include: reading, Game of Thrones, Hershey’s kisses, reading, her dogs (Yoda and Jilly), summer, movies,  reading, Jude Law, coffee, and rewatching WB series from the 90’s-00’s.
Her family is made up of farmers and/or almost rock stars from Iowa, people who numerous, loud, full of love, and the kind of people that make the world better. Trisha tries her best to honor them, and the lessons they’ve taught, through characters and stories - made up, of course, but true enough in their way.
Trisha is the author of The Last Year series and the Whitman University books. She’s represented by Kathleen Rushall at Marsal Lyon Literary Agency.

Kyra and Staceyx

28 August 2014

Despicable Me 2 - Film Mini Review

Gru isn't an evil villain any more, but now he is bored with his normal life. when an opportunity to become a spy for a secret organisation arises, he leaps at the chance.

The Good:

  • New levels of cuteness (Gru dresses up as a fairy princess).
  • Awesome new characters in the form of an overenthusiastic spy, Lucy.
  • Voices from Steve Carell, Russel Brand and Kirsten Wiig
  • Still as funny as the first one.
  • Romance, mutants and Gru dealing with parent issues
  • Best scene: Lipstick Taser!

The Bad:

  • Agnes becomes officially weird.
  • Iffy villain with no real explanation as to his back-story. How did he fake his his own death and why? How does he have a son and what happened to the mother?
  • The ending comes rather too close to cheesy for my liking.
  • Don't hate me: the minions were not funny - they were too slapstick this time around.

Very entertaining, but I would still say that the first one is better. Still a great, original idea and still very well done. Suitable for kids but certainly watchable for grown-ups too.

27 August 2014

Wednesday Wishlist #18

This weeks wishlist is all about creepy stuff in life:

Liars. Inc - Paula Stokes
From much-love The Art of Lainey author comes a really awesome idea. A schoolboy begins a business selling lies to other students, namely forging permission slips and stuff like that. The one little lie gets out of control, and a boy is murdered with our main character as the main suspect. Well, it's one way to teach kids not to lie.
Liars, Inc on Goodreads

The Thirteenth Tale - Diane Setterfield
12930909A recommendation twice over, this books is a creepy story about a house and set of twins surrounded in mystery; the thirteenth tale of famous author Vida Winter, and one that she has waited to tell for many year. Honestly, I got handed this book and a the next day the TV adaptation was on TV. I had to watch it, it had cool actresses in it!
The Thirteenth Tale on Goodreads

Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea - April Genevieve Tucholke
Imagine falling in love with the actual devil? No, me neither, but someone has! This looks set to be a great series and is totally up my street.
Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea on Goodreads

Don't You Forget About Me - Kate Karyus Quinn
A super creepy town where all the  teenager go stark raving mad every four years. It sounds plain horrible, but also a bit too interesting to miss out on.
Don't You Forget About Me on Goodreads


26 August 2014

Top Ten Tuesday #17 :Films I Never Knew Were Books (until after they came out)

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.

Maybe I am clueless, maybe I was just too young to remember the book coming out and making a splash, or maybe too old? Some of  this I am ashamed of, some of this you might not even know.

1. I Am Legend - Richard Matheson
To be honest, I have seen this film once and I thought it was alright, but Will Smith has done better.
I Am Legend on IMDB

2. Twilight - Stephanie Meyer
How could we not know about this one now? I was entirely clueless about the books when I watched  the first film though, and only read the series afterwards.
Twilight on IMDB

3. John Carter (A Princess of Mars - Edgar Rice Boroughs)

I happily watched the sci-fi adventure made by Disney impervious to the fact that it was thought-up by a writer years ago. It was only after an older fantasy fan said something that i looked up the books.
John Carter on IMDB

4. How To Train Your Dragon - Cressida Cowell
Yes, there are in fact 11 main books to this children's series. Now, I adore the film and I think it might be unfair on the book if I ever read them. I've heard that they are very much different.
How To Train Your Dragon on IMDB
5. Jurassic Park - Michael Crichton
Three years before this classic dinosaur movie was released, this book came out. I had no idea until recently.
Jurassic Park on IMDB

6. Shrek - William Steig
Another classic kids movie taken from a book. The movie is, again, very loosely based in the book, playing with the characters and the story. I think the same goes, I don't want to read the original for fear of hating it.
Shrek on IMDB

7. Slumdog Millionaire - Q&A - Vikas Swarup
There was a whole lot of hype for this film, but I never once saw anything about it being an adaptation until waaay after I saw the film.
Slimdog Millionaire on IMDB

8. Stardust - Neil Gaiman
I loved the film, and shortly afterwards I also fell in love with Neil Gaiman's writing style and his strange sense of creepy fantasy. Such a good writer, and such a good film, if it is rather different from the book, the fairytale elements are all still there.
Stardust on IMDB

9. The Shawshank Redemption (Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption) - Stephen King
I never knew this amazing film was really a book by this great writer until my boyfriend told me not that long ago. Shame on me.
The Shawshank Redemption on IMDB

10. The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams
I know. How could I? But I am afraid it is true, I honestly didn't know the movie (the one starring Martin Freeman) was actually a TV series remake, let alone an adaptation.
The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy on IMDB

11. The Walking Dead - Robert Kirkman
This TV series actually started out life as a graphic novel. I'm not so sure I would want to read that...
The Walking Dead on IMDB

12. Disney.
They love their adaptations! 101 Dalmations, Bambi,  Mary Poppins, Alice in Wonderland, Bedknobs and Broomsticks, Peter Pan, Winnie-the-Pooh, Chronicles of Narnia, Hunchback of Notre Dame, Oliver Twist (Oliver and Company), Basil The Great Mouse Detective (Basil of Baker Street), Treasure Planet (Treasure Island), The Jungle Book. I could go on and on about all the adaptations Disney have made. For an extensive list, go here.


25 August 2014

Review: Fractured Dream - KM Randall

Story Sparks's life gets turned upside-down when she and her two best friends are transported to another world. There she finds out that she is the reincarnation of an ancient deity, destined to save this other land from its evil ruler and unite the worlds once more.

This book get very cool, very fast. It begins exactly the way you would want a fantasy book to, with a lot of mystery surrounding the main character, but particularly the fate of her uncle, who disappeared whilst swimming in the lake and was never found. This beginning part was extremely enjoyable to read as we encountered our main characters and some weird goings-on to do with horrific paintings and lost memories.

When we finally got into the other world, many of these initial secrets were revealed only for bigger questions to be asked, focusing around Story herself this time. This felt like an entirely different book, really, because we were transported into a world where those weird unexplained things were merely inconsequential compared to the enormity of the next task. However, overall this wasn't a bad thing as it gradually revealed plot point that would take us on a bigger adventure. The very beginning of this part did feel a little bit like an info-dump because there was a lot to explain and a lot of memories being rekindled.

Ok, first off, Story has to be one of the strangest names ever, and it never sat well with me while reading the book. I understand how apt it is for her character, but still, it's jarring for me. Anyway, Story was a very well-rounded character, despite having missing parts of her memories. She is a sweet, determined girl who wants to do her best for all the people she has just met as well as the ones she has known for some time. However, my favourite character was actually a toss-up between Jess and Elliot, who both had big personalities, with Elliot being the most awesome psychic gay best friend around and therefore taking that top spot.

This is certainly an unusual novel. It is definitely contemporary, with a lot of current references at the beginning of the novel, but I would describe it mostly as a New Adult read as there are some scenes with sexual content. Nothing that a YA couldn't handle in my opinion, but not something you would actually hand to your kids to read. It has fantasy and fairy-tale elements and twists them out of shape, turning princesses into monsters. The romance element completely denies the love at first sight cliche by involving the element of reincarnation and fate, and also allows the relationship to develop slowly over the book. This was nice and quite refreshing to read.

Whilst there were many twists in this story, a lot of them were easy to guess, I mean, most of it had been prophesied anyway so the end came as no shock to me either. Still, it was fun to see how it all went down. The pace really picked up in the last third as the book closed with some good action and a lot of emotion coming from the characters.

Given the size of the book, I admit I was expecting a rounded off story, but this appears to be a duology or a trilogy as there is a whole new adventure waiting for Story at the end of this. Fractured Dream is a very well-imagined, beautifully described novel where fairy-tales and mythologies all come together beautifully to create a flowing narrative. Highly enjoyable for people who like mythology, folklore, fairy-tales and magic.


24 August 2014

The Reading Pile #7

This month has been crazy, with a brand new job to contend with my rather large reading habit. I've also been trying to balance my social life out once more, and admittedly not having much luck at all with that. Never mind. Anyway, so this month I bought too many books and said yes to too many books. I have a huge reading pile so I have stopped accepting review requests for the moment so that I can actually read something I've bought myself. The Gospel of Loki from my birthday in May is still sitting, untouched on my bookshelf. It. Will. Get. Read... Eventually.

Anyway, here's my hoarde this month. Not a huge one, thank God, but big enough:

The Luxe/ Rumours - Anna Godbersen
I'm a sucker for covers with pretty dresses, so when I saw these two in a charity shop for £2 each, I had to snap them up. These books deal with high American society in 1899 and is full of scandal, intrigue and beautiful people. Its historical fiction in quite an unusual setting for me and I cant wait to read it!

The Immortal Circus: Final Act - A.R. Kahler
I saw this in a Kindle Daily Deal, and since I loved the first two books in the series I had to buy it. The Immortal Circus is a modern day fairytale set around a travelling circus owned by the dark fairy queen, Mab.

The Grimm Legacy - Polly Shulman
Anoher Daily Deal, and something I've been eyeing up for a little while. Although this may seem like another fairytale retelling, it is actually all about the artifacts in those fairytales and about how someone is stealing them. It sounds good to me!

We Were Liars - E. Lockhart
This ebook was a steal online at 99p, and since every blogger on earth seems to love it, I thought I would give it a go. I was a little bit skeptical about this book, because everyone seems to like it so much and I tend to get dissappointed in books with so much hype. Lets hope not!

The Thirteenth Tale - Diane Setterfield
This book has been reccommended to me twice now, and since the author is a friend of a friend, I am fully invested in this. I actually gave in and saw the TV adaptation, because Sophie Turner (Sansa in Game of Thrones) is in it, and I loved the story, so I'd love to see how well it has been handled.

Before I Go To Sleep - S.J. Watson
The film of this is coming out soon, and seeing the trailer actually prompted me to pick this up. I have had it on the shelf for a while but never really fancied it. Now I am totally intrigued as to what happens.

Dead Girl Walking - Ruth Silver
A princess who gets murdered has the chance to become a grim reaper, what's not to love? I am very much looking forward to reading this.

Frostbitten - Heather West
Competitions are the best, and I was pleasantly surprised when I won an ebook of this. It's a paranromal YA read with a nice sprnkling of romance, and it sounds pretty awesome to me!

Review requests:
Aliens, nuclear war and finding the truth about the world's origins, intriguing stuff.

The companion book to Prom Impossible, this time told from the boys point of view. Should be interesting!

Demon Stones
A world where demons have been released to roam the land? Sounds awesome.

The blurb to this book is kind of confusing, and I sense that there is a lot going on in this fantasy.

Twisted Reflections
The sequel to Dangerous Reflections, a teen time travel that I adored reading. Eeek! So excited.

Thank you's this month go to:
My sister and my boyfriend's mum for allowing me to borrow their books!
YABound Tours
D.L. Denham
Laura Pauling
Michael Drakich
J. Simon
Booktrope - Pamela Labbe and Shay West

23 August 2014

Author Spotlight: Amber Garza

Amber Garza

Amber Garza lives in California with her amazing husband and two hilarious children who provide her with enough material to keep her writing for years.

Unexpected Love series
Star Struck series
Delaney’s Gift series
Prowl trilogy
Falling to Pieces
Break Free
Break Through
Head Above Water
Confessions of a Harried Housewife


22 August 2014

Review: The Path of Daggers - Robert Jordan (8 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 Sammael finally defeated Rand al'Thor is made King of Illian, awarded the Laurel Crown which he renames the Crown of Swords. Now he must turn his attention west to the invading Seanchan. With his armies and the Asha'man he moves to turn back their invasion, but how far can he trust the men in black coats? Nynaeve Al'Meara, Elayne Trakand and Aviendha have the Bowl of the Winds but with the Seanchan invasion hot on their heals can they use it to break the Dark One's hold on the worlds weather? Perrin Aybara is sent to bring Masema Dagar, the Prophet of the Dragon, to heel but can he lead the mighty who choose to follow him, and will the Shaido yet hinder his plans? Egwene al'Vere works to gain control over the rebel Aes Sedai before she leads the assault on Tar Valon and the White Tower itself.

The Path of Daggers is the eighth book in Robert Jordan's fourteen book fantasy series The Wheel of Time. This book stands out above the previous ones as it was the first one to to rise, immediately upon release, to the number one position on the New York Times Bestsellers list, remaining on the list for two months. It is also the shortest book of the main series consisting of a prologue and thirty one chapters. The books title is a reference to a Seanchan saying: 'On the heights, the paths and paved with daggers.' The book is also noted for the absence of Mat Cauthon, much as Perrin Aybara was absent from the fifth book, The Fires of Heaven. This is my opinion is a great shame as Mat Cauthon in the last book was just setting out by himself, creating a great deal of the humour in the book. The book takes the series back to its best especially through Rand's story line where several major events lead him to go in a different direction at the end to what we have seen before. The darker element of the book comes in from Perrin's story line, with distrustful atmosphere's and tensions created by the different groups of people he is forced to work with.

Back on track after a couple of books that slowed the pace for the story-line, compared to the previous books. The plots are event-filled and thoroughly captivating, keeping your attention throughout and never giving any clue as to what will happen next. The only blip is the absence of Mat Cauthon, but other than that it thoroughly deserves its New York Times Bestseller number one slot!


21 August 2014

Guardians of the Galaxy - Film Review

Starlord, AKA Peter Quill, is a self-proclaimed outlaw. After stealing an orb from a far-away planet, Quill soon gets arrested for his theft after having a run-in with rocket, Groot and Gamora, all of whom are also arrested. The four, plus an inmate from the prison known as Drax the Destroyer, all realise they have an enemy in common; Ronan the Accuser, and so they team up in order to save the universe from being destroyed by the power of the orb, which could fall into the wrong hands at any time.

Wow, this film is great. The premise of criminals becoming the good guys isn't completely fresh, but its good enough and certainly brings in more laughs than a bunch of goodie-goodies doing the job. There is a whole new set of characters to add to Marvel's collection now, this time a set of misunderstood miscreants.You'll get to know Starlord (Chris Pratt), an abducted human, Gamora (Zoe Saldana), a green assassin, Drax (Dave Bautista), the muscly, tattooed human thesaurus, Rocket (Bradley Cooper), a strangely clever raccoon bounty-hunter and his tree-like bodyguard, Groot (Vin Diesel).

Marvel films aren't really known for the incredible acting, but for their awesome action sequences. However, I will say that Chris Pratt does an exceptional job at being a likeable jerk, and the comedic timing of everyone is spot on. There are a lot of famous faces in here: Zoe Saldana, Glenn Close, John C Reilly, Karen Gillan and Djimon Hounsou (horribly misused in my opinion as he doesn't have much screen-time) to name a few. Of course, there are a couple of faces that you won't see: Bradley Cooper and Vin Diesel. Rocket Racoon is by far the best character in the film, due to his snarky comments and foul temper, and Groot is pretty interesting too. I won't lie though, Vin Diesel must have had an easy time of it - one line to remember and no physical appearance.

Although this is all very sci-fi, you nearly forget about that fact as you get wrapped up  in the action of the scenes, and they were truly awesome; a prison break, countless fight scenes, a ton of outer-space shots and some really funny conversations. Speaking of conversations, younger viewers may want to cover their ears. This is a 12A film (UK) and I'm not sure I'd want a child younger than 12 to learn some of the curses that come out, parental guidance or not. Parents, you've been warned.

For those of us who are fans of the Marvel universe, we don't get a lot of nods to other films based on the Avengers. However, there are nods to the infinity stone storyline when we see Thanos and The Collector, who have featured in after-credits scenes. We can definitely see this story developing in this film, spurring on bigger and better things. This film has picked us up out of the Earth-bound (and Asgard-bound) world and flung us into outer-space, where things could really start getting a great deal more epic.

One last thing: the soundtrack. The soundtrack for this movie is incredible. It really makes the film, and links it to Starlord in a very nice way. The music actually comes from a mixtape that Starlord has on his person when he is abducted, and therefore all of the songs are from the 70s and 80s. This is totally geared towards the adults in the audience, but it is also very good in adding a touch of realism and humour into the mix. Lots of action sequences were made more amusing simply by adding the ill-fitting music over the top.

Join the universe's most unlikely heroes in a hilarious quest to deny a villain his attempt at Earth. This is a hugely entertaining film, full of laughs and action. It was so good, I immediately wanted to watch it again.

Best bits: Glenn Close sets the scene with the films first curse. Drax the Destroyer gets a bit too literal. Starlord gives a motoviational Kevin Bacon speech to Gamora. Rocket asks for an inmates leg as part of his escape plan. I am Groot.

Guardians of the Galaxy on IMDB


20 August 2014

Wednesday Wishlist #17

This weeks wishlist is all about unusual dystopia:

The Archived - Victoria Schwab
The archive is a place where the dead are stored, and our protagonist is the keeper of those dead, tasked with keeping from waking up and from getting out. But someone is deliberately altering these archives. Time is limited and our main character must figure out who it is before the archive its-self crumbles. Sounds awesome and like something you can easily get caught up in.

Hungry - H.A. Swain
In the future, there is no need for food, people take medication to keep themselves going, until one day they start to feel hungry. What would happen in a world where there is no longer any food to keep the people alive? One girl sets out to find real food with a boy from a resistance set on bringing food back. This one sounds very interesting, and I wonder how this world works.

Mirror X - Karri Thompson
A girl wakes up in a hospital 1000 years into the future to find the world ravaged. A plague has wiped out most of the population and it turns out she can trust no-one. The reason she has been revived is so that she can give them something, but what that is.. I'll have to find out. I am so intrigued to know why and how these people woke up this particular girl, and why everything seems to familiar to her. 

The Vault of Dreamers - Caragh M. O'Brien
I can't even describe this properly, so here's the blurb from Goodreads: The Forge School is the most prestigious arts school in the country. The secret to its success:  every moment of the students' lives is televised as part of the insanely popular Forge Show, and the students' schedule includes twelve hours of induced sleep meant to enhance creativity. But when first year student Rosie Sinclair skips her sleeping pill, she discovers there is something off about Forge. In fact, she suspects that there are sinister things going on deep below the reaches of the cameras in the school. What's worse is, she starts to notice that the edges of her consciousness do not feel quite right. And soon, she unearths the ghastly secret that the Forge School is hiding - and what it truly means to dream there.


19 August 2014

Top Ten Tuesday #16 - Fairytale Retellings

1. Enchanted - Alethea Kontis
I can't profess to have read Hero or Dearest, the second and third books in this series, but you can bet your bottom dollar that they're on my wishlist. Enchanted successfully blends elements of several fairytales and even a couple of rhymes into a cohesive and... enchanting plot. This one is particularly centered around The Princess and the Frog, a story that doesn't get retold all that often. I can't wait to read more.

The Woodcutter Sisters Series on Goodreads

2. Mirror, Mirror - Gregory Maguire
The author who brought us Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West also does his share of classic fairytale retellings. This one is a strangely realistic version of Snow White, and it doesn't skimp on all the gory details, either.

Mirror, Mirror on Goodreads

3. The Lunar Chronicles - Marissa Meyer
A complex futuristic retelling featuring all your favourite fairy-tales; Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel and Snow White as you have never seen them before. This is a riveting series and such a good take on these classic stories.

The Lunar Chronicles on Goodreads

4. The Book of Lost Things - John Connolly
A young boy is thrust into a world where fairytales live, but not always happily ever after. This book is enthralling and very easy to get in to.

The Book of Lost Things on Goodreads

5. Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister - Gregory Maguire
My personal favourite of Maguire's books, this takes a journey into seventeenth-century Holland and is told from the the step-sister's point of view. Iris is a wonderful character, and the way that Maguire paints the scene is magical. I also love the references to art in this book, however others don't get to grips with it the way I did, hence why this book is not higher up the top ten.

Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister on Goodreads

6. A Long, Long Sleep - Anna Sheehan
A Sci-fi version of Sleeping Beauty, perfect for those of us who like a bit of a mix-up in their genres. Honestly, this book is really enjoyable and check out the cover! Stunning.

A Long, Long Sleep on Goodreads

7. The Grimm Diaries Series - Cameron Jace
If you are up for reading this monster of a series, it features fairytales characters as you've never seen them before. It all starts off with a devastatingly beautiful monster; Snow White. If the main series isn't enough for you, and trust me, there will be more coming out soon, then try all 18 prequels.

The Grimm Diaries on Goodreads
The Grimm Diaries Prequels on Goodreads

8. Sweetly - Jackson Pearce
A deceptive version of Hansel and Gretel. I loved this retelling because it wasn't overly magical for the most part. It was grounded in reality and only got magical once you went behind the scenes. I really loved this retelling, and it is an unusual tale to take on.

Sweetly on Goodreads

9. Bitter Greens - Kate Forsyth
A story similar to the way the Gregory Maguire develops his. This is firmly grounded in reality and history including Charlotte Rose de la Force, a famous female writer with a lot of stories to her name... and not just ones she made up, either. This tale beautifully weaves magic (and not much of it) in with reality so you can't really tell who is embellishing and who is not. I love the nature of the story, the way something can change through the telling, and that is exactly what we have here. Someone may be described as a witch one day and the next day people are convinced they have cast spells on them.

Bitter Greens on Goodreads

10. Snow White and the Seven Samurai - Tom Holt
A couple of teens manage to hack into the evil queens magic mirror and inadvertently break the whole thing. Now all the fairytales are tipped on their heads: Snow White is running the show, the Big Bad Wolf is suddenly Prince Charming. The three little pigs pretty much steal the show in my opinion though.

Snow White and the Seven Samurai on Goodreads

Kyra and Stacey xx

18 August 2014

Review: Tarnish - J.D. Brink

When danger comes to the small town of Redfield, one boy goes out in search for help. He follows a path that may lead to fame, riches and glory, and his name is Wil Thunderstrike. What Wil doesn't realise is that his path is about to take a wrong turn.

This book is first and foremost a coming of age story for a young man. It deals with lessons that he needs to learn about how the world works outside of Redfield, relationships, friendships and discovering who he really is. Wil is an excellent protagonist, an awkward teenage boy perfectly rendered, with enough flaws and things to learn that we also journey along with him as he becomes his own man. I can't profess to knowing exactly what goes on in a teenage boys head, but this seems closer to the truth of it. Though there isn't too much to set him apart from the crowd apart from his height, Wil is still an interesting character. Perhaps he is more interesting because he is not special, but wants more for himself. A lot of people can relate to this. A few other characters, such as Ian, Trevor and Silverskin were also very well drawn and had very distinct characteristics.

The pacing for me was slow to start. This was mainly due to all the storytelling that took place as the background of the characters were developed. Generally, this is not something I like as there are other ways to a back-story in motion without the main story stopping entirely. I tend to enjoy it if a book gets on with the main plot, saving the back-story for subplot rather than distracting the reader from it. The pace was also lacking due to the fact that the story flitted between Redfield and Wil. I was more interested in Wil's story than those that he had left behind, and with the stories being told there as well, I admit I was slightly impatient to get back to Wil. However, as the story developed, I found that this became a great device for building up the story and the tension as the danger lurked mainly with Redfield.

The ending was certainly the best part. The pace had steadily picked up during the book and speed up again in the last third. The final chapters are therefore a flurry of battle scenes, revelations and a rush of magic. It is true that some parts of this you can see coming, but in others you really can't. Mostly I did not think about any sort of mystery until I was nearing the end, and perhaps the book could have benefited more from making me question the events in Redfield.

The fantasy element was always there, but for the most part the book was grounded in reality, only really letting any magic slip in nearing the end. Yes, there is a silver man and a swamp man and they are both strange, but really I just accepted them for what they were, not really thinking about if there was any meaning to it. I think my reading of this book would have been better had I known there was something mysterious going on.

Tarnish is a good read and was interesting, but wasn't quite my thing. It is more suitable for those who enjoy steadily paced, classic heroes tales and male coming-of-age stories that are very character-driven. Personally, I would have preferred much more magic.

Tarnish on Goodreads
Tarnish on Amazon.com

17 August 2014

Tour Stop (Guest Post): The Revenant - Elise Abram + Giveaway

The Revenant by Elise Abram
Published: July 10th 2014
Genre: Paranormal, YA

He wears neither cape nor cowl, but Zulu is a superhero, nevertheless.
Raised from the dead as a revenant more than a hundred years ago, Zulu possesses Spiderman’s stealth, Superman’s speed, and Batman’s keen intellect. His only companion is Morgan the Seer, an old man cursed with longevity and the ability to see the future in his dreams. Zulu has spent the last century training with Morgan in order to save the people in his nightmares from certain and violent death. Branded a vigilante by the Media, Zulu must live his life in the shadows, travelling by night or in the city’s underground unless his quest demands otherwise.
Kat is an empath, someone who sees emotions as colourful auras. Relentlessly bullied by her peers, and believing her life amounts to nothing but a huge cosmic mistake, she finds purpose in her abilities when she is recruited to help Zulu and Morgan complete their missions.
Malchus is Morgan’s long dead twin brother. A powerful necromancer, Malchus manages to find a way to return to the living, and he has a score to settle with Morgan. Believing Morgan responsible for his death and out to seek revenge, Malchus begins to raise an army of undead minions and use them to hunt Morgan down. As Malchus closes in on Morgan and his charges, the trio soon realizes the people most in need of saving are themselves.

Empaths, Necromancers and Seers I have "known" - Elise Abram

In The Revenant, the main characters include Zulu, a revenant; Kat, an empath who sees auras; Morgan, a seer of the future; and Malchus, a necromancer able to raise the dead. When I was first asked to write about seers, empaths and necromancers that inspired me to write my novel, I panicked. I had no clue what to write about. Then I started thinking, did a bit of research to jog my memory, and what I would write became crystal clear. Without further ado, here it is, my Top Ten List of Inspiring Seers, Empaths and Necromancers:

10. The Computers at the Canadian National Exhibition
My family used to go to the Canadian National Exhibition ("The Ex") every year as a child. My favourite building was the "Better Living" building, because it showcased all of the new products and appliances on the market. Beside the huge computer that would provide a lengthy printout analysis of your handwriting was a camera that took pictures of your aura. I had no clue what that meant at the time, but I remember marveling at the sample photos of people, their silhouettes illuminated with pretty colours, wanting to have my picture taken as well.

9. The Amazing Kreskin
When I was a kid, Kreskin was on every Sunday near the supper hour. He'd do mind-boggling magic tricks, and pull random people from the audience and claim to read their minds. Whenever he'd finish one of his stupefying manoeuvres, he'd exclaim, "Isn't that wild?"

8. Nostradamus
After 911, the media popularized the following Nostradamus quatrain as a prediction of the attack "Earthshaking fire from the center of the Earth will cause tremors around the New City. Two great rocks will war for a long time, then Arethusa will redden a new river." Whether or not Michel de Nostredam actually meant the falling of the Twin Towers or something else is irrelevant. The fun is in deciphering the myriad hypotheses the media posits about this and his other prophecies. I love that the CW's "Reign" uses a characterization of Nostradamus to help drive Queen Catherine and her nefarious deeds.

7. Commander Deanna Troi
Half-human, half Betazoid, Deanna Troi was the ship's counselor on "Star Trek: The Next Generation". I like the idea of assigning an empath the job of psychologist as in that role, patients would not be able to hide their true feelings.

6. Anita Blake
Blake is the main character in Laurell K. Hamilton's Vampire Hunter series (think Buffy, all grown up). In addition to hunting vampires and other supernatural creatures, she is able to raise the dead, which she does in order to question them to help her find supernatural bad guys. She is strong, both physically and emotionally and has romantic ties to both vampires and werewolves. My favourite in the series is Obsidian Butterfly, primarily because I love the interaction between Anita and fellow hunter, Edward.

5. The Resurrection Gauntlet
A Torchwood possession, the Resurrection Gauntlet is a metal glove that allows the wearer to revive the dead for a few minutes, depending on the empathic abilities of the user. This comes in handy for Torchwood agents when they have to question a recently deceased person about the circumstance of
his/her death. They eventually use it on fellow agent Owen after his death and are able to revive him permanently, as a walking, talking corpse.

4. Ned The Pie Maker
In "Pushing Daisies", young Ned learns he can bring dead things back to life, but there's a consequence to pay--something else must die to balance the universe. His ability works well for him in his pie business, touching spoiled fruit to bring them back to life in exchange for the lives of flowers and flies. For Ned, the first touch brings life. He must re-kill the person by touching him again within a minute, or someone else nearby dies. When his girlfriend dies and he brings her back to life, he must deal with the consequences of the death of the funeral director and keeping her reanimation under wraps.

3. Johnny Smith
One of my favourite Stephen King books, movies and television series, The Dead Zone tells the story of Johnny Smith's life after he wakes from a six year coma with the ability to see the future. When he awakes, he must deal with missing his mother's death and funeral and that his girlfriend is married to another man and is raising Johnny's child with him. He has a series of visions and intervenes in the lives of the people he sees in them, until he meets presidential hopeful Greg Stillson, shakes his hand and sees his future. He realizes there's only one way to stop Stillson from launching a full-out nuclear attack, and that's to assassinate him. The best iteration of The Dead Zone is by far the television series starring Anthony Michael Hall as Smith.

2. Will Graham
The Hannibal Lecter series by Thomas Harris is on my To Read list. In the mean time, there's "Hannibal" the television series. Will Graham uses his unique pseudo empathic abilities to recreate brutal murders. He uses clues at the crime scene to get into the heads of the murderers and hopefully lead the FBI to them. The trouble is, Graham feels what the murderer feels, often re-imagining the horrific acts as if he, himself were the killer. This makes him vulnerable to Hannibal's framing him for a series of murders at the end of season one. Because the lines between experience, imagination and suggestion begin to blur, Graham finds it difficult to defend himself to his former colleagues.

1. The village of Roarton, Lancashire
Season one of "In the Flesh" was all about the inexplicable rising of the dead. Season two was about the prophecy that governed the First Rising and the foretold Second Rising and how the people of Roarton could ensure the Second Rising would happen. The key to the Second Rising is the sacrifice of the first to rise. The Undead Liberation Army is certain main character Kieren Walker was the first to rise and they convince disciple Simon to kill him so they can establish a new world order with Partially Deceased Syndrome sufferers in the lead. MP Maxine suspects Kieren's friend, Amy Dyer, was actually the first to rise. Hoping her brother will be resurrected, Maxine kills Amy. Before she is killed, Amy experiences the slow return of her vital signs. No sooner does her heart begin to beat again then Maxine stabs her in it. I believe this is what is meant by the Second Rising. The First Rising was the actual return from the grave; the Second Rising is the liberation from a zombified state to a rebirth of the senses and a return to actual life.

Author Links:

This giveaway is for three eBooks of The Revenant, hosted by the author, open internationally.

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16 August 2014

Review: Dangerous Reflections - Shay West

Alexis Davenport begins seeing other faces in the mirror, faces that are not her own. When she inadvertently bets transported to Medieval Ireland and averts a small disaster, she quickly realises that she has the power to travel back in time. Her life is already complicated, and now her new home and boy drama are conflicting badly with her new-found gift. That's not even mentioning the shady, evil character who is meddling with time, and it seems like Alex is the only one who can stop him.

This book flew by in a blur for me. It had so much packed into it, everything to make it the ultimate teen read; magic, boys, confusion, parent issues, good friendships and a flowing, fast-paced narrative. I loved the massive amount of drama in this book - not only the brushes with history, which were great - but also those to do with moving to a new place, bullies and boys.

As characters go, not too many stood out for me apart from Alexis and her small group of friends. Even then, it was Alex that took centre-stage and only a couple of others stood out. I would have liked to see more of her friends in this book and have them explored a bit more thoroughly. Maybe this is done in the second book. Alex is not without her faults; she's selfish, easily jealous and unthinking when it comes to other's feelings. However, this doesn't make me like her any less. Let's face it, at her age, we are all like that; we all don't understand why our parents would act the way they do, we think everything is unfair and our hormones are going so crazy that our emotions flit from one to another like bees around flowers. In that way, the author has built a character we can all empathise with, who has a good heart and who quickly realises her mistakes. I loved the way she gained confidence and the ability to deal well with difficult situations - her character arc is subtle, and yet it really hits home after you read it.

The time travel element is fascinating and I loved the way it worked. Thankfully there were no loose ends in the explanation, but there was a hint of something more to come as Alex's powers develop. I loved the situations Alex found herself in and the amazing way she dealt with them, using her knowledge of history to ensure the timeline stays the same. You get the feeling that a lot of research has gone into these parts as you are truly transported to each of the times and places.

There was one thing that I did not like, and I am sure most people will agree with me here, the absolutely major cliffhanger ending. I turned the page, fully expecting there to be more story, only to be greeted with more titles from Shay West. My mouth must have fallen open and I just sat there a little bit confused. It honestly seemed like half the book had just been ripped away from me! OK, so this really makes me want to read the second book (Twisted Reflections) but most of the time I like the story to round its-self off as a whole instead of leaving the entire thing gaping like a wound.

Despite the ending, this was a great read. It's fast, shows a teenage viewpoint beautifully and it has just the right mixture of action, angst and fun. I need the second book right now.

Dangerous Reflections on Goodreads
Dangerous Reflections on Amazon.com
Dangerous Reflections on Amazon.co.uk

Thank you to Pamela Labbe at Booktrope Publishing for the review request and to Shay West for writing this great piece of fiction. This has not affected my rating.