23 February 2015

Film Review: Kingsman: The Secret Service

A gentleman spy organisation offers an unlikely young man the chance to be in the secret service, but first he has to go through a series of tests with other, much more posh, competitors. At the same time, an American technology genius is becoming a major world threat.

The Good: 

  • Great selection of established actors: Colin Firth, Mark Strong, Michael Caine, Samuel L. Jackson, Mark Hamil and Jack Davenport.
  • Taron Egerton, who plays Eggsy, delivers a very believable character who is quite endearing.
  • There is a Pug involved.
  • Great to see such Britishness involved, including some of the humour.
  • Nice rags to riches story, with a great commentary on snobbery, self-image and climate change.
  • The mix of action and comedy will appeal to a wide range of people.
  • Great nods to Arthurian legend and some Bond satire involved.
  • Awesome female villain. I loved the fact that she was a double amputee and was also really kick-ass. It could have bad connotations though if other films run with the same concept after the Oscar Pistorius trial.
  • Follows that great trend of comics into films.
  • Great clothing selection. Honestly, the suits, the umbrellas, the shoes, even the glasses were like an extra character.

The Bad:

  • Slightly contemporary with mentions of Iggy Azelea so may not age well.
  • Can verge on ridiculous comedy in places.
  • Chavviness at the beginning may grate on some people.
  • Quite gory!
  • I am not sure about our villain. He only makes sense to a point with his motives and doesn't strike you as really being all in with his plan.

A great film. Fun to watch, very accessible for many age groups and I would definitely buy it. Very entertaining and quite thoughtful too.

20 February 2015

Spotlight: Spirits Manifest -Sophie Weeks

Spirits Manifest: A Collection - Sophie Weeks.

eBook available at Amazon, iTunes and Barnes and Noble. 

Two ordinary young women, new to adulthood, seeking to define their futures against a world that has already defined them. Two uncanny encounters with a world of spirits hostile and benign. This intriguing collection contains two novels that deftly blend poignant human drama with unleashed supernatural bonds. Two stories of hope, and finding the courage to break from traditions that haunt us.  
Margaret Campbell of The Soured Earth said goodbye to broad prairie skies a long time ago in favor of college, the East coast, and a budding career in fashion design. But when faced with an impossible decision, the 20-something Margaret must choose between returning home to her father’s farm in Alberta to help raise her two orphaned cousins, or fulfilling her fashion designer, city-life dream. What would you do? Margaret goes home, and once there, finds a local Native American ritual gone awry, and the larger community plunged into chaos as a devastating blight settles over the land. She finds comfort in the arms of Gene, a thoughtful ranch hand with a heart full of wanderlust, but will the pull of family ties and new desire be enough to quiet her own ambitious yearnings? 

Sarah Markham of Unsettled Spirits thought she had everything figured out. Leave home, go to college, build a new life. It's the last part that proves tricky when Sarah, unable to find a job that matches her lofty ambitions, takes on a job and a room in a haunted bookstore owned by an eccentric intellectual. Lucy Larch, dead for over half a century, has been waiting for someone to help her pass over—but can Sarah, herself perplexed in matters of life and love with handsome Irishman Ian, find a solution? 

Author Bio: 
Born in Phoenix, Arizona, Sophie Weeks received a Masters degree in English Literature from Mills College in 2006 and completed her PhD in Victorian Literature at Rice University in 2013. Sophie resides in Payson, Arizona with three furry miscreants, who are wanted in multiple states for criminal adorableness. She is also the author of the whimsical Sherlockian pastiche, Outside the Spotlight. Learn more at http://sophieweeks.net. 

Excerpt - Unsettled Spirits

Her head rested against the dingy upholstery, and for a while she looked over her surroundings with a kind of detached interest. But then she fell quite asleep, and it was from within the confines of a dream, hours later, that she heard a voice say, “Wake up. Wake up, stupid. Don't you ever do anything but sleep?” The girl sat on the cold floor in front of Sarah, mirroring her position. Sarah's eyes opened, and she studied the girl closely. Lovely shoulder-length curls of brown hair framed laughing eyes and a strong-willed mouth. She wore a yellow dancing dress with a cardigan over it, despite the hot night. 
“Finally,” the girl said, clapping her hands as Sarah awoke. 
“Who are you?” asked Sarah, quite calm. “You're not Esther.” She felt quite sure of that now. 
“I'm Lucy Larch. Who's Esther?” 
“My sister,” Sarah replied. “She died a long time ago.” 
“I died in 1946,” Lucy said, “which is a hell of a year to die in—I never evergot to eat as much as I wanted, and then after rationing ended, the streets were flowing with bread and jam!” 
“Why did you die?” Sarah asked, soft and dreamlike. 
Lucy scrunched up her face, annoyed just thinking about it. “I was running away with Jasper Clarke, who was not as good a driver as he was a lover. Tenderhearted, and what did he end up doing? Steered us into an oak tree to avoid a deer! If I let myself think about it, I get just furious.”

17 February 2015

Mini Review: Dealing With Devils - Pembroke Sinclair


In this book, the sequel to The Appeal of Evil, Katie has now chosen her side, but has she made the right choice?


  • Good character development of Katie and Josh.
  • Hell has been developed a bit more.
  • The story goes in a direction that you aren't actually expecting. Katie isn't a heroine at all, she has so many faults.
  • A far more intriguing plotline than the original love triangle as Katie finds out more about herself and demons in general.
  • Familiar mythologies of Satan, Lilith, Adam and Eve are involved.
  • Braden is an amazing addition to the story. Loved him.

  • No Wes, for the whole book. This was a bit confusing for me seeming as he was in the first one a whole lot! Also, this lessens the amount of confusion in the story which may have made it more gripping.
  • Still so much angst!
  • Still not enough character development for Deb and Katie's Mum. We don't end up truly caring what happens to either of them, or indeed care what they have to say. Their scenes are a little boring.

This book is better than the first. Katie developes well as a character and some of the flaws of the book are explained out by the plot itsself. The plot is fast-paced and makes you want to read on. The book isn't what you're expecting, which makes a lovely change! However, it appears to still be aimed at a younger YA audience than the main character, making it difficult to relate to her.

16 February 2015

Mini Review: The Appeal of Evil - Pembroke Sinclair


Katie, a normal 17 year old girl, finds herself in the middle of an age-old battle between good and evil, but which side will she choose?

The Good:
  • Fast-paced and easy to follow.
  • Great ideas of good, evil, Praesul and Demons to give the story a fantastical edge based on things we already understand.
  • Perfect for the YA readership, though perhaps a younger category than the main character as she is a little bit naive.
  • Totally readable and easy to pick up. Perfect for a bit of light reading.
  • Points for the cover - Josh is HOT.
The Bad:
  • One dimensional characters, particularly Deb, Katie's Mum, Wes and his Dad.
  • A little too much teen angst and self-pity.
  • No decision-making for the main character to move the story on, so grew a little stale.
  • A couple of grammatical errors - 'worse comes to worse' is meant to be 'worst' (I'm pretty certain, anyway).

A cast of fairly unlikeable characters gives little for the reader to care about, but it is a fun, easy-going read. You do tend to egg Katie on all the time, but tend to feel exasperated with her. The ending is certainly interesting, with a big old cliffhanger ready for the next book, but it doesn't quite answer the 'will she, won't she' question. Still, it might have been me, given that I am not exactly a YA any more!