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Friday, November 30, 2012

Review: Never After

Posted by Charlene // Tags: , ,
Never After
by Jason Robert Macumber

Plot Summary:

The world of fairy tales is twisted and corrupted. Two years after her entrapment and torture at the hands of the Seven Deadly Trolls, Snow White now works as an assassin for hire. Rude, crude and with her princess status long revoked, she has become a dark angel for the Ever After's damsels-in-distress.

A game of cat and mouse soon begins when two of the Deadlies, Pride and Wrath, return to exact revenge on the fallen princess for the murder of their brothers. Armed with her trusty dagger carved from the magic mirror, Snow finds herself drawn into a conspiracy that involves an ancient relic from beyond her world's borders and the destruction of her world.

Taking perversion to a whole new level, NEVER AFTER is an estrogen-filled romp to save the Ever After as Snow slices and dices her way through beloved characters leaving no talking animal safe!

Review:

I definitely can not highlight enough that this story is not your typical fairy tale revision.  This is nothing like an idealized fairy tale story, and it is nothing like even the Grimm fairy tales which has some redeeming quality to the world.  Having gotten past my expectations, the plot is very involving and moves quickly, and Snow is a great sarcastic narrator to take us on her journey to finding the redemption she needs.  Her attempts to kill her inner princess makes her extremely violent and dangerous, but the author gradually peels back the layers on her character so she becomes more and more of a sympathetic character.

There are elements to this new world that I found confusing - why exactly is the world of fairy tales so twisted and corrupted?  And why do princesses have such a hard time of it?  But again, the story draws you in and has very well written (if mostly unlikable) characters, and I found myself rooting for Snow to complete her quest successfully.  There are some great surprise twists and plenty of gory violence, and the author's interweaving of well known fairy tale characters and tropes were fun and inventive, so even with these questions, I really enjoyed this story.

review copy kindly provided by the author


Thursday, November 29, 2012

Book Excerpt: Heaven Is Not Like Carnoustie

Posted by Charlene // Tags: , ,
Heaven Is Not Like Carnoustie
by Max Robberts

Plot Summary:

Heaven Is Not Like Carnoustie is a comedy about the end of the world.

Colin Kelly is seeing things, mainly angels. Most troubling is the Archangel Gabriel who visits Colin's quiet suburban garden to tell him that he is now the prophet for the third millennium; and to steal cookies. The Four Horsemen are approaching, will mankind listen to the Word of Colin before it's all too late?

God - now The Certain Eternal One (CEO) due to recent modernisations – hopes that mankind will heed his final warning.

Meanwhile, Bruce Taylor and medium Justin Troy are hired by His Honour Judge John Lott to investigate the disappearance of his wife, just where all the salt came from and why a council worker called Stan should take it all away.

Colin’s wife, Sheila, convinces him to seek professional help when he reveals his new mission to her; she is less than enamoured by his new found notoriety, even if the sex is great.

The Devil stalks the earth, assured of victory now that all of mankind knows the mobile telephone number of the beast.

Colin’s Guardian Angel, Clarence, is left with the job of guiding him and helping him in the final battle for his sanity and mankind.

The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse are approaching and they are quite damp, noticeably peckish, a little bit late and extremely pissed off.

Colin’s initial reluctance to fight the Four Horsemen and forethought at having brought tea and Hob-Nobs for everyone results in their lives returning almost to normal and Bruce’s bill never being paid.

Colin Kelly is our only hope. Can he save the planet? Are estate agents evil incarnate? Does the duck-billed platypus have a sense of humour?

And do we have enough Hob-Nobs?

There really is only one place to find out.

Book Excerpt:

The following excerpt is from the lead up to the battle for mankind’s existence which takes place just outside Stowmarket, off the B1115:

Then it began, like a hole bursting through the dam of quiet reserve, people running for the shop, grabbing chocolate covered flapjacks and Steradent tablets as though their very lives depended on it. Others left carrying Ginsters All Day Breakfast Buffet Bars and copies of Heat magazine that they hadn’t paid for, clutched to their chests. Engines started, nozzles were abandoned on the ground, there were crunches of plastic bumper on plastic bumper as people tried to be first out of the petrol station; running with looted supplies, from what and to where they didn’t quite know.

‘What in heaven’s name?’ Harry asked Josh.

‘God alone knows, come on, let’s get away from here.’ Josh jumped in the car and started the engine. He soon joined a queue of slightly dented vehicles hooting their way onto the A14, people cutting in and bumping each other out of the way. A motorcyclist roaring, revving and braking his way through the disordered jam; he hadn’t heard the news that had led to people fleeing the garage forecourt, he was just being a motorcyclist, behaving as he always did.

The slip road that had once seen the passage of Roman legions now witnessed hoards of people, some trying to join the A14, others trying to leave it and nobody quite knowing why. Every rule had been instantly discarded, cars pushed and bumped other cars out of their way and others tried to make headway in the wrong direction, against the flow of joining traffic.

The main road was little better, the traffic was moving fast enough but it was like rush hour in Rome, there was a traffic jam but it was moving at fifty miles an hour, cars bumper to bumper in both lanes and in both directions. The abandoned wrecks of cars that had misjudged the terrifying stream of traffic lay on the grass verge, most of them the right way up, but not all. There were the sounds of distant sirens and the clattering-whop of the police helicopter overhead reporting on the madness that lay in every direction.

‘I’m going to find out what’s going on.’ Josh reached for the radio and was jolted from behind, it was only the fact that he hit the car in front at just the right angle that kept him on the road. They then started to learn of the panic that had started earlier that morning high above the Skagerrak, the narrow stretch of water that separated Norway and Denmark.

Flight number DY1303 from Stansted to Oslo was exactly half way between Kristiansand and Thisted when the radio blared into life. Captain Fritjof Hjelmaen had only recently changed frequency as they crossed the border from Danish airspace to Norwegian.

‘Nor Shuttle 187 I have traffic in your left, eleven o’clock, six miles, no height, primary contact only.’

‘Nor Shuttle 187 looking.’ Fritjof said into the radio before turning to his twelve year old First Officer, Otto Otterstad. ‘What the hell could that be?’

‘Not a clue, can’t see anything yet.’ Otto, who wasn’t really twelve, he just looked it, especially to Fritjof, started scanning the blue.

‘Nor Shuttle 187 traffic now eleven o’ clock, seven miles, if not sighted turn right onto zero six zero.’

‘Looking, Nor Shuttle 187.’

Except for the radio the flight deck was in silence as both men strained their eyes for any signs of the approaching aircraft. Leaning those two inches forwards to get them closer to whatever it was. The cool air of the cockpit started to noticeably thicken.

‘Nor Shuttle 187 avoiding action, immediate right turn onto zero nine zero.’ ‘Right zero nine zero, Nor Shuttle 187.’ Fritjof answered and began the turn, still scanning the sky to his left for the traffic.

‘Still can’t see anything.’ Otto told him.

‘No, me neither shit, fuck, what the fuck, bollocks.’ Fritjof almost stood the fifty tonnes of Boeing 737 on its right wingtip and struggled and pulled, all the time waiting for a sound. ‘Did you fucking see that?’

‘I don’t know.’

‘Get on the PA.’

‘And say what?’

‘Anything.’ Fritjof levelled the aircraft and called on the radio. ‘Nor Shuttle 187, now heading 150 after avoiding action.’

‘What do I tell the passengers?’ Otto asked.

‘Anything, anything at all.’

‘Ladies and gentlemen,’ Otto started, unsure of where he was going with this, ‘we apologise for the slight disturbance but it was necessary in order to avoid four hooded men on horseback.’

Death led his pale horse downwards, into the clouds, followed by the white, red and black of his companions, the hooves of their horses galloped earthwards, stirring up the tops of the clouds which swirled around them as they dived. For millennia Death had planned this, his greatest day, and now he was going to be late for the end of time.

Currently on sale for Christmas and the New Year!


Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Awesome Adaptations (14) - The Sound of Music

Posted by Charlene // Tags: ,

Awesome Adaptations is a weekly bookish meme, hosted at Alisa Selene’s books blog, Picturemereading.  Anyone can play along! Each week there is a new category of adaptation to blog about. Any format (television series, film, web series, etc.) is acceptable as long as it is based in some form on a book. If you’re playing along on your own blog, just mention Picturemereading in your post and include the banner above. Let them know which film you’d pick and why it is an awesome adaptation worth watching. Oh, and don’t forget to share the link to your own post in the comments for that week’s challenge so that everyone can read your thoughts!

An awesomely gorgeous-to-look-at adaptation
Title: The Sound of Music
Adapted from The Story of the Trapp Family Singers by Maria Augusta Trapp

I go to the hills when my heart is lonely
I know I will hear what I've heard before
My heart will be blessed
With the sound of music

There's a lot that makes this film awesome.  Music, actors, story, romance, suspense.  It's like the perfect film.  I've loved this movie since I was young, and I didn't even like musicals that much back then.  Even though I have so much I could say about this film, I'll save it for another time and focus on the visual aspect.

When I was young, I used to fast-forward over the first couple minutes of the film.  You know those gorgeous aerial shots of Austria?  Younger me couldn't be bothered by the beauty, I wanted the singing and acting.  The filmmakers were smart though and started the film by showing that this was not going to be a stage-adapted musical filmed on lame stage adapted sets.  Maria sings about the beauty of the hills and how the beauty fills her like a song and the audience is going to see it as well as hear it.  I appreciate that now.  The setting sets up the character of Maria and how grounded and pure of heart she is.  It also reinforces the national pride Captain Von Trapp has for his country, which is so sorely tested by those terrible Nazis.  And it is so telling that when Maria needs to rehabilitate the kids she shows them the beauty of Salzburg and the mountains.   The setting is almost a character in itself - it provides solace to all the characters and provides a way out for the Trapp family when they can no longer stay in Austria.

The fact that you can still take Sound of Music tours in Austria and view all the film locations shows how much the setting and backdrop has added to the film's appeal and beauty.  Even though I'm mostly focused on the on-location filming, the set designs of this movie - especially the Trapp family home - is stunning work and so lovely.  It's like every still of this movie is designed to please the eye - even the costumes the characters all wear are simply gorgeous and completely enhance the visual appeal of the movie.  Even if they are not completely accurate to the time and country, they are aesthetically pleasing, simple and perfect for each character.  And some of those actors aren't bad to look at either... okay I'll stop.  If you haven't seen this movie, do yourself the favor and enjoy.  I love it so much, and the visual aspect is only a small part of the appeal.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Review: Pursuing the Times

Posted by Charlene // Tags: , ,
Pursuing the Times
by Lauren Baratz-Logsted

Plot Summary:

All that popular Chick-Lit author Mercury Lauren wants is to have one of her books reviewed by the New York Times Book Review - just one - and she'll do almost anything to get it. In this contemporary romantic comedy, with a nod toward Pride and Prejudice she crosses swords and hearts with the Editor-in-Chief of the NYTBR in a madcap adventure that takes her from her home in Westport to a yoga retreat to a golf course in Florida. Will she get what she wants and will she finally be happy if she does? Only one thing's for certain: nothing will stop her from Pursuing the Times.

A note:

I've previously reviewed The Twin's Daughter by Lauren Baratz-Logsted and found it a fantastic and entertaining suspense YA read, and I was very interested in reading this Chick-Lit-y revision of Pride and Prejudice.

Review:

Mercury Lauren's neurotic need to get notice and recognition for her work despite commercial success drives the action in this novel.  Her antics become madcap and screwball, walking a thin line between funny and annoyingly offbeat.  But even while I sometimes wished she would act more rationally, I sympathized with her and her single-minded goal.  Especially because she seemed to have such an unsympathetic family.  But I loved this novel's reflective nature on the chick-lit genre and how Mercury's motivations were more complicated than her seemingly all important goal to get a review in the Times.

I loved quietly realizing the parallels between Pride and Prejudice and this story - the character and plot similarities and how the author reinvents them into a contemporary story.  Mercury is not nearly as level-headed as Elizabeth Bennett but she does have a sarcastic, if self-deprecating, wit, and Frank D'Arcangelo is just as intellectually devastating as Darcy, but shows a little more warmth early on and it is easier to tell that he likes Mercury's directness and challenging views.  And in addition to the romance and the comedy, the author works in interesting and thought-provoking commentary on the plight of authors and reviewers, the contradictory attitudes and unrealistic expectations put on commercial and literary authors, with some great insights on being an author.  All of this is wrapped up beautifully by a scene in a bookstore where Mercury encounters a rude and disgruntled reader - I don't want to spoil the scene, but I loved how it tied up the ideas behind this novel and the romance.

Although I wanted to shake some sense into the characters at times, this is a really fun read, and I can see authors and bloggers learning from Mercury's adventures, as well as any reader enjoying the romantic tension between Mercury and Frank.

review copy kindly provided by the author



Monday, November 26, 2012

Review: Perfection Unleashed

Posted by Charlene // Tags: , ,
Perfection Unleashed (Double Helix #1)
by Jade Kerrion

Plot Summary:

Two men, one face. One man seeks to embrace destiny, the other to escape it.

Danyael Sabre spent sixteen years clawing out of the ruins of his childhood and finally has everything he wanted--a career, a home, and a trusted friend. To hold on to them, he keeps his head down and plays by the rules. An alpha empath, he is powerful in a world transformed by the Genetic Revolution, yet his experience has taught him to avoid attention.

When the perfect human being, Galahad, escapes from Pioneer Laboratories, the illusory peace between humans and their derivatives--the in vitros, clones, and mutants--collapses into social upheaval. The abominations, deformed and distorted mirrors of humanity, created unintentionally in Pioneer Lab's search for perfection, descend upon Washington D.C. The first era of the Genetic Revolution was peaceful. The second is headed for open war.

Although the genetic future of the human race pivots on Galahad, Danyael does not feel compelled to get involved and risk his cover of anonymity, until he finds out that the perfect human being looks just like him.

Review:

This novel had everything I am looking for in a story.  Fantastic characters, writing and plot.  It's also full of suspense and thought-provoking ideas about genetic research and what it means to be human.  Add to that mutant powers and an intriguing puzzle of a man in Danyael Sabre, and I had a hard time putting this novel down.  It starts off with a mystery into why two men share the same face and the mystery of Danyael's tragic past.  As pieces of the puzzle are revealed, the ragtag team of characters who are involved come together to fight against the pro-humanity zealots, the genetically unsound abominations who have super strength and no mercy, and the government officials who want to control both Galahad and Danyael.  It's an awesome combination of plot and character development, because I felt like all of these people were my friends and we were in a lot of trouble here.  (I usually can tell the difference between fiction and reality, thanks very much.)

There are times when this novel can get very scientific and some jargon is used that may not be generally familiar, but it doesn't confuse the storyline, and it can give people an opportunity to learn a little more about genetic science.  With so many different characters introduced in the beginning, it took awhile to realize that Danyael is indeed the main character, and his inner struggles and need to shield his powers created a constant tension in the story that was hard to bear sometimes.  It was almost comical how little rest he got and how much he went through while so many characters in the story hated him and could not see him for who he really was.  I loved the many character conflicts as well as plot conflicts that keeps this story continually engaging.  I was really impressed by this author's imaginative and complex story, and I highly recommend it for fans of science fiction and for readers interested in tortured heroes and a whole new mythology behind mutant powers.

review copy kindly provided by the author



I have to add that I honestly think that for the fantastic quality it's a great ebook deal on Amazon!
And check out the stops on the current Double Helix Blog Tour and perhaps join up!
Sunday, November 25, 2012

Suspense Sundays (22)

Posted by Charlene // Tags: ,
"Now let's see... Suspect... Suspectant... Suspend... Ah here we are, Suspense.  The condition of mental uncertainty usually accompanied by apprehension or anxiety.  Fear of something that is about to occur, as 'Do not keep me any longer in SUSPENSE.'"

Suspense was a radio series from 1942 to 1962, claiming to be "radio's outstanding theater of thrills."  I have a fondness for "Old Time Radio" as we call it now, and Suspense is my favorite show.  It sets up weird, dark, scary, or intriguing stories with a plot twist in the end, and all in half an hour.  I love the old-fashion story-telling and I thought it would be fun to give a short review of an episode every Sunday.  




"Sorry, Wrong Number"
Air date: May 25, 1943
Starring Agnes Moorehead
A bedridden, neurotic woman tries to get in touch with her husband who is still at work. Through a crossed telephone connection, she overhears two men planning a murder. Frantically she tries to get someone to investigate.

I really don’t want to reveal too much on this one, because this is one of the more famous episodes of Suspense, and the only one made into a movie. It’s just that good. The story stays completely with the woman as she makes phone call after phone call, to her increasing frustration. The telephone operator in particular is annoyingly unhelpful. The neurosis and personality of the woman is also perfectly captured in her interactions with the other characters. It’s a great study in that specific kind of character and in suspense!
Saturday, November 24, 2012

Blogspiration (6) - Doctor Who and Memory

Posted by Charlene // Tags: , ,

Blogspiration is a weekly meme hosted by GrowingUpYA and Saz101. The meme was created to help spark inspiration among bloggers, readers and writers alike. An inspirational quote/picture/video is posted weekly, on the day of the author's choosing, so that it may inspire creativity, conversation or just a little SOMETHING.


My last Who-related Blogspiration isn’t with a quote from the show, but a quote that got me thinking about the theme that seems to pervade the last three seasons - the importance of memory and remembering. So this is sort of an idea that I’ve had about the series - Whovians would likely only relate to this.  Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game has one of my favorite quotes: “I am only what I remember.” And with the Doctor it seems like he is only what others remember of him. They say the companions are the the way the viewers relate to the story, and we see him as they see him.  Or as he wants them to see him. Amy Pond brought him back with her memories. And now he is trying to erase the memory or history of himself from the universe.  And with the question that will be asked at the fall of the eleventh, the answer must be not what others remember of him or think of him or his legend, but who the Doctor really is. What are his memories and his stories since the whole series is someone else’s story about the great Doctor. Is the question Doctor Who? really just his name?  Will it reveal some deep dark memory of why he ran away?  At least that is my cobbled together theory about what Steven Moffat might be doing and why memory seems to be so important in each series. Probably totally wrong!

I am fascinated by memory, and how it can be so powerful and yet so easily distorted.  About the quote, I take from it that you can make of yourself whatever you want, because you can choose what you want to remember.  Your memories make up who you are as a person, and hopefully you can focus on the good memories.




Friday, November 23, 2012

Review: Reel Horror

Posted by Charlene // Tags: , ,
Reel Horror
by Ernie Garrett

Plot Summary:

A fantasy/comedy/horror novella in the vein of Ghostbusters, Back to the Future, or Weird Science. Rich Giesecke is a 20-something movie fan from Jersey who gets into an argument with a mysterious Usher, and finds himself trapped in a cheesy zombie film sequel, where the damage done to him is real. The only way to escape is to figure out the plot (with help from his friends in the theater) and complete the film.

Review:

The plot summary makes it seem like the story bears some similarity to the plots of Ghostbusters, Back to the Future and Weird Science, but it just captures something of the irreverent tone and humor of those movies while being having it's own, very entertaining plot.  Although the main characters are written broadly which makes it difficult to really empathize with the characters.  But the story's pace is fast and full of drama.

I think the main selling point of this story is how it makes fun of the horror movie genre - the silly one-sided characters,  and the contrived, predictable and unrealistic plot.  The author turns this into a very humorous story as Rich tries to survive the zombification machine by staying one step ahead of the obvious plot devices.  It's a fun, quick read, great for fans of the horror and zombie genre.

review copy kindly provided by the author


Thursday, November 22, 2012

Book Excerpt: The Sword of Solonus

Posted by Charlene // Tags: , ,
The Sword of Solonus
by Adam Matthews

Plot summary:

Human life is a struggle in the medieval kingdom of Orenelle, and the high elves promise King Ceron and his people an escape from this struggle. Only by embracing the Light of the Elwan, (the forest spirit and life force of the elves) will the population achieve everlasting life- whilst leaving behind famine, disease, and death. When the day of salvation arrives, mankind will undergo a metamorphosis and will join the high elves to live in the sacred woodland paradise of Sera Norem, but at what cost?

Only a few dare to question the real implications of elvish immortality, but among them is the king’s sixteen-year-old son, Prince Cebril. Young, curious, and impatient, Cebril yearns to explore life outside the palace walls… and outside of the Elwan Faith.

When the prince is exiled due to circumstances beyond his control, his prayer for freedom is answered. With nothing but a broken compass and his soul to guide him, Cebril starts out on a quest of self-discovery; a far ranging journey that will reveal the true nature of man’s heralded transcendence, the value of love, and the perils of war.

Cebril’s travels will inexorably lead him to uncover a powerful weapon… a legendary sword with the power to change his fate and his world- the Sword of Solonus.

Excerpt:

The New Year’s festival in the capital city of Kelal was in full swing, but Prince Cebril Lionlight, heir to the throne of Orenelle, didn’t feel like marching in the Royal Procession. In order to leave the castle unseen, Cebril needed a convincing disguise. He called outside his room for a page and requested the trappings of a well-fetcher. The job of a fetcher was to fill buckets of water from the well house in the Palace courtyard. A well-fetcher’s robes were hooded and priestly, as if to attribute some higher meaning to a mundane but necessary task.

Cebril slipped the hood over his head and looked down at the ground in a contemplative manner to hide his face. He locked his fingers together in a meditative position so he wouldn’t be questioned when leaving the Palace. He made his way to the eastern gate unrecognized, and started on the short cobble stone road toward Kelal.

The road to the city was lined with townspeople waiting to get a first glimpse of the king’s wagon as it emerged from the Palace gates. Interspersed among them were the beggars and street gamblers, looking to scam the more fortunate. Cebril, however, knew that he was in little danger. It was rare that well-fetchers were accosted for money, as their only possession was water.

Cebril arrived in the center of the city ahead of the Procession, and rested for a moment on the marble steps of the Three Trees Monument. As the prince sat down, three stone trees– an evergreen, a weeping willow, and a redwood, towered over his back. He sat against the trunks, and used the shade to further shield his face from curious onlookers.

A breeze blanketed the town square, and Cebril felt refreshed as the cool air hit his face. He looked around at all the craft shops, which made up the tapestry of daily living. Artisans and merchants all worked at their trades in earnest. Their wooden storefronts were built close together, with second story tenements protruding out over narrow streets. The cramped layout of the city was a far cry from the marble spires, stone keeps, and sprawling gardens comprising the Royal Palace. Still, Cebril enjoyed the feeling of anonymity that only crowded spaces could provide.

The prince took full account of what he saw. In Kelal, trade knowledge was passed down from father to son, and occasionally through an apprenticeship to someone outside the family. Tradition was important, especially when it came to the time honored religious tenets bestowed upon men by the high elves.

As Cebril watched the tradesmen toil to make ends meet, he imagined for a few minutes that he was one of them. He didn’t wish for a life of manual labor, but he envied the tradesmen’s independence, and the pride they took in their work. Observing them led him to fantasize about shaping his own destiny.

Unfortunately, Cebril’s dreams chafed hard against the high expectations placed upon him by the Royal Family and the clergy. He knew that as a future king, he’d be encouraged to foster religious conviction in his subjects. This troubled the prince greatly, as he wasn’t a true believer in the Elwan Religion.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Awesome Adaptations (13) - Legend of the Seeker

Posted by Charlene // Tags: ,

Awesome Adaptations is a weekly bookish meme, hosted at Alisa Selene’s books blog, Picturemereading.  Anyone can play along! Each week there is a new category of adaptation to blog about. Any format (television series, film, web series, etc.) is acceptable as long as it is based in some form on a book. If you’re playing along on your own blog, just mention Picturemereading in your post and include the banner above. Let them know which film you’d pick and why it is an awesome adaptation worth watching. Oh, and don’t forget to share the link to your own post in the comments for that week’s challenge so that everyone can read your thoughts!

An awesome altered adaptation
Title: Legend of the Seeker
Adapted from The Sword of Truth series by Terry Goodkind


The books by Terry Goodkind are an involved epic high fantasy series. It centers around Richard who has lived most of his life as an ordinary woodsman and discovers his true heritage and calling when he helps a mysterious (and of course beautiful) woman, who turns out to be the most powerful woman in the the Midlands. It’s a long saga to defeat the dark wizards who want to rule the land, and the books definitely have a mature, thought-provoking and philosophical edge to it.  I'm especially inspired by the ultimate message in the books: "Your life is yours alone, rise up and live it."

Legend of the Seeker is the TV series based on the books that ran for two seasons. It was toned down and broadened for family audiences, making the episodes more light hearted and focused on the adventure. The original story arcs of the first two books were preserved very loosely in the two seasons, but elements from other books, and new ideas were understandably worked into the show - the story had to be chopped up into bite-sized episodic serials.  There are elements of the books that also had to be discarded, though I was surprised by how much they included, especially about the Mord-Sith who are master torturers and are only a master at it because they were tortured as children.

I absolutely love both versions of the story. The books are incredibly immersive and detailed, and shocking sometimes, but the storylines are flawless, and the journey of Richard and Kahlan is beautifully told. The TV series is captivating and entertaining television.  My favorite episodes are actually the funny ones - that took the characters and almost did a pastiche on them.  (There was one "funny" episode per season)  The show also does justice to Richard and Kahlan’s characters and their romance - making them sympathetic and relatable, and in the second series they made an incidental character in the books - Cara - a main character in the show and she became a completely awesome, badass female character. Just for that, I think the TV show did something very special in their interpretation of the books.

Although the book series has so much more than the TV show could possibly do justice to, the TV show filled a void for fun adventure stories with incredible backdrops (it was filmed in New Zealand) and managed to capture the heart and soul of the characters and the importance of their journey.
Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Review: A Part to Play + a Giveaway!

Posted by Charlene // Tags: , ,
A Part to Play
by Jennifer L. Fry

Plot Summary:

When fifteen-year-old actress Lucy Carter loses her older sister in a car accident, her mother shuts down and her father can’t hold the family together. Their only choice is to ship Lucy off to the Edmond School for Performing Arts. But boarding school is no cure for Lucy’s grief. With failing grades, wooden stage performances, and curfew violations, Lucy is threatened with expulsion. For the once talented Lucy, it feels as though she has nowhere to turn.

One night, Lucy hears mysterious music drifting through the school’s old heating system. The music leads her to a troubled but passionate songwriter whose brilliance gives her the strength to perform like never before. Yet their intense relationship puts Lucy in a precarious position: if she follows her muse, will she lose herself? And if she breaks it off, can she stand on her own again?

Review:

I feel there are two strong emotional arcs in this story that make up the heart of the narrative. The first is the loss of Lucy’s sister in a car accident and the devastating effects on her family. The emotional realism of Lucy’s deteriorating family is vivid and well-realized, and made me choke up multiple times. I felt like the author brilliantly captured the emotion of this family trauma and Lucy’s efforts to cope drove the first part of the story.

In comparison, the second emotional arc - the romantic attachment between Lucy and Chris, the secret musician felt less well-built. It’s insta-love on a certain level, although Lucy and Chris’s emotional damage does explain their strong connection. I did feel that this part of the story could have been more effective dramatically if more time was spent on Lucy and Chris getting to know each other. And with Chris I would have liked to know more about his character - his history and what drives his behavior.  The tension over Chris's volatile personality was perfectly pitched however, as I was very intrigued by his character.

This book was a quick read for me, because the author did a great job building the characters of Lucy and her family and I wanted to know more about how her relationship with Chris and her friends would help heal her. This is an inspiring story with realistic, contemporary drama and characters.

review copy kindly provided by the author in connection with Young Adult Novel Reader Book Tours






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Monday, November 19, 2012

Review: Doctor Who: Touched By An Angel

Posted by Charlene // Tags: , , ,
Doctor Who: Touched By An Angel
by Jonathan Morris

Plot Summary:

In 2003, Rebecca Whitaker died in a road accident. Her husband Mark is still grieving. Then he receives a battered envelope, posted eight years ago, containing a set of instructions and a letter with a simple message: "You can save her."

Later that night, while picking up a takeaway, Mark glances at a security monitor - to see himself, standing in the restaurant in grainy black and white. And behind him there's a stone statue of an angel. Covering its eyes, as though weeping... except, when Mark turns, there's nothing there. As Mark is given the chance to save Rebecca, it's up to the Doctor, Amy, and Rory to save the world. Because this time the Weeping Angels are using history itself as a weapon...

A note:

I picked up this book based on a recommendation from Doctor Who guru Aidan from Chair With a Panda On It.

Review:

The Weeping Angels are my favorite Doctor Who villians. They don’t “exist” if you are looking at them, they can’t speak, you can’t hurt them, and they don’t give up. They are so insidiously menacing. Touched By An Angel takes these now classic Who villians and puts a new spin on them. They are ever resourceful, and in this story their plan to feed off of even more concentrated time energy is ingenious. And wrapped up in the life of Mark and Rebecca Whitaker. This novel has Mark backtracking through his life, as he realizes that many things that happened when he was young was influenced by his older self. And this is dangerous as the Doctor, Amy and Rory must monitor Mark’s life in an effort to make sure Mark does not attract the Angels by creating a paradox.

This is such an intelligently engineered time travel story that uses the Angels extremely well. Their appearance in the beginning is especially chilling because there is a different approach to how they stalk their prey. The Doctor and his companions are not the focus of the story, but Mark is a complex enough character to carry the narrative interest. His relationship with his wife and the unfolding of their lives is very touching and romantic. I especially felt the ending was particularly clever and perfectly resolved Mark’s emotional trauma. I thoroughly enjoyed this Doctor Who adventure!


Sunday, November 18, 2012

Suspense Sundays (21)

Posted by Charlene // Tags: ,
"Now let's see... Suspect... Suspectant... Suspend... Ah here we are, Suspense.  The condition of mental uncertainty usually accompanied by apprehension or anxiety.  Fear of something that is about to occur, as 'Do not keep me any longer in SUSPENSE.'"

Suspense was a radio series from 1942 to 1962, claiming to be "radio's outstanding theater of thrills."  I have a fondness for "Old Time Radio" as we call it now, and Suspense is my favorite show.  It sets up weird, dark, scary, or intriguing stories with a plot twist in the end, and all in half an hour.  I love the old-fashion story-telling and I thought it would be fun to give a short review of an episode every Sunday.  




"After Dinner Story"
Air date: October 26, 1943
Starring Otto Kruger
Rich Mr. Hardecker assembles the five men who were with his son when an elevator car crashed and at the rescue his son had been found dead. But he had been shot and was alive minutes before the men were to be rescued. He had been shot by his own gun, and no one had a motive to kill him so it was ruled a suicide. This dinner party takes place a year later, and Mr. Hardecker has spent that time investigating which of the five men wanted to kill his son. He now knows but has no proof. And he has just poisoned that person. In a few minutes the killer will die, but if he drinks the antidote in the middle of the table, he will live, but also convict himself.

This makes one a little uncomfortable going into elevators. They do a flashback to the day when the elevator crashed, and it is pretty disturbing imagining what that might be like - trapped and injured, especially worse if you have a panicky, fearful guy with you. Flash forward to the dinner party, and I was thinking if I was in the position of those men:

A) Don’t go to that party, I’m sure Mr. Hardecker has something not right up his sleeves! (He did lure them with money)
B) How about we all drink that antidote then and screw you Mr. Hardecker! (Um, but apparently only enough antidote for one)
C) What if you got the wrong guy, Mr. Hardecker?

But then there would be no story, and I have to say the twist in this story is one of the best I’ve come across! So clever! I guess I won’t reveal it, but I loved it!
Saturday, November 17, 2012

Blogspiration (5) - Doctor Who and Maturity

Posted by Charlene // Tags: , ,

Blogspiration is a weekly meme hosted by GrowingUpYA and Saz101. The meme was created to help spark inspiration among bloggers, readers and writers alike. An inspirational quote/picture/video is posted weekly, on the day of the author's choosing, so that it may inspire creativity, conversation or just a little SOMETHING.


Some Fourth Doctor love today - he's one of my favorite Doctors and he had so many great one-liners in the show.  I love this comeback of his when Sarah Jane laments that he is being too childish.  Sometimes it is no fun acting mature and responsible.  You just want to be silly and have fun.  And there is nothing wrong with that.





Thursday, November 15, 2012

Feature & Follow (8)

Posted by Charlene // Tags: ,
Feature & Follow is a blog hop hosted by Parajunkee & Alison Can Read. The purpose is to meet  people and gain more  followers in the book blogging community.

Q: Books are made into movies all the time!  Turn it around. What movie would make a great book?


Back to the Future!

It would be so cool to read a good novelization of this story. They could play around with the time travel elements. Maybe give a little back story on Doc. Just go more in depth. It would be fun!




Review: Detecting Magic with Dick Hunter

Posted by Charlene // Tags: , ,
Detecting Magic with Dick Hunter
by A Jarrell Hayes

Plot Summary:

What begins as a routine missing person case for Seattle's best private investigator, Dick Hunter, turns into a personal vendetta against a cruel murderer. The murderer, Mort Des Hommes happens to posses powerful magic.

In order to solve the case and avenge a death, Dick Hunter has to take a crash course in magic from the beautiful Jinn Amie, and gather magical animal familiars in order to battle and defeat Mort Des Hommes.

Review:

This novella has a very noir detective feel. Dick Hunter has a casual, aloof and sarcastic manner even though he is very much determined to understand the horrific death of his client’s husband. Enter the Jinn and her magical familiars. The story takes a fantastical turn as the author reveals a new magical history to our world. I felt that the story moved at a rapid pace, and had alot of action, but I did not really connect with the characters, especially with Dick Hunter. He felt too one-note, and the developing romance was based on superficiality. Although the story is a quick and entertaining read and has very interesting ideas, I was not moved by the characters or the events and I think the story could benefit by digging a little deeper into the characters minds and the high risk stakes. I would especially be interested in reading more about the Jinn and their lives on earth.

review copy kindly provided by the author

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Awesome Adaptations (12) - Jekyll and Hyde

Posted by Charlene // Tags: , ,

Awesome Adaptations is a weekly bookish meme, hosted at Alisa Selene’s books blog, Picturemereading.  Anyone can play along! Each week there is a new category of adaptation to blog about. Any format (television series, film, web series, etc.) is acceptable as long as it is based in some form on a book. If you’re playing along on your own blog, just mention Picturemereading in your post and include the banner above. Let them know which film you’d pick and why it is an awesome adaptation worth watching. Oh, and don’t forget to share the link to your own post in the comments for that week’s challenge so that everyone can read your thoughts!

An awesome adaptation from the stage
Title: Jekyll & Hyde The Musical
Adapted from The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson

It's over now, I know inside
No one must ever know
The sorry tale of Edward Hyde and those who died
No one must ever know

This story is rather a strange case to me.  I've seen four different adaptations (two films, one miniseries and this musical) and they all have a similar plot (well, except the miniseries) which bears little resemblance to the plot of the novel.  All adaptations seem to need to add romance/sex/more women to a story that is a much more high concept philosophical tale.  These changes do transform the story into one with more incident and higher stakes and I think it is an improvement.  For this post I want to focus on the revival of the Wildhorn musical version (that is touring now!) and how it tells the story.  It currently stars Constantine Maroulis and Deborah Cox.

This production pares down the lavish set and orchestration design of the original Broadway show.  It's much more intimate, with a darker, moodier palette.  Watching the production, I was completely taken in by the Gothic overtones and the emotional impact of the story.  Jekyll is trying to test a serum to separate good and evil to save his father who is hopelessly insane.  He is thwarted by the council members of the asylum, and decides to use the serum himself.  As Hyde he undertakes a revenge (and for funnsies) mission to kill the members of that council which makes his violence understandable, if still insane.  And it does help that the council members are pretty unlikable.  The musical and especially Constantine's performance balances the different sides of the character and makes them almost equally sympathetic and repugnant.  Jekyll is frustratingly weak at times, which makes their "Confrontation" near the end excitingly explosive, with the production adding layers of multimedia fire and effects to emphasize the emotional clash of personalities.

The added pathos of Lucy, the lady of the night who is in love with Jekyll but is unfortunately Hyde's obsession, rounds out the story by creating a character who is too weak to fight against the fate that Jekyll rails against.  Both Jekyll and Lucy are powerless and drawn to each other and also tormented by Hyde.  The story is enhanced by the music which is dark and sensuous and so memorable, and all the actors are excellent in their roles.  The songs are quite challenging vocally and the leads all rise up to the challenge.  If you see this musical near you, go see it! 
Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Review: Demonglass

Posted by Charlene // Tags: , ,
Demonglass
by Rachel Hawkins

Plot Summary:

That was the whole reason she was sent to Hex Hall, a reform school for delinquent Prodigium (aka witches, shapeshifters, and fairies). But that was before she discovered the family secret, and that her hot crush, Archer Cross, is an agent for The Eye, a group bent on wiping Prodigium off the face of the earth.

Turns out, Sophie’s a demon, one of only two in the world—the other being her father. What’s worse, she has powers that threaten the lives of everyone she loves. Which is precisely why Sophie decides she must go to London for the Removal, a dangerous procedure that will destroy her powers.

But once Sophie arrives she makes a shocking discovery. Her new friends? They’re demons too. Meaning someone is raising them in secret with creepy plans to use their powers, and probably not for good. Meanwhile, The Eye is set on hunting Sophie down, and they’re using Archer to do it. But it’s not like she has feelings for him anymore. Does she?

A note:

If you haven’t read the first book in the Hex Hall series, I very much recommend it! It’s a great story, one that I guest reviewed on E&K Family Book Review.  I’ve tried not to have any spoilers in my review of the second book, although the plot summary of this book has a pretty big spoiler in my opinion.

Review:

The author continues to delight me with Sophie’s wry and snarky narrating style. I love the way she interjects her sarcastic thoughts throughout the events in the story. Sophie made an important decision in the end of the first book, that sets the events of this story into motion. There is more explanation behind the Eye, and the threat to the Prodigium, as well as Sophie’s feelings for Archer and vice versa. This story raises the stakes and develops the romance more, with deeper detail about the main characters from the first book.  There is a sort of love triangle but I'm not sure if it counts when the other guy is not even in the running?  I mean... I don't really think he has a chance but who knows?  I wasn't really bothered by the addition of it, but I thought Cal served a good contrast to Archer.

The story also moves to England, where Sophie gets to know more about her father and her history, and I enjoyed the growing and touching relationship between Sophie and her dad. With the new trouble and mysteries surrounding the Council and the Prodigium, where I felt that the first book was a little predictable, I found the second book to be a refreshing surprise because I wasn’t sure about anything. And unfortunately the cliffhanger in the end, didn’t really help me out. I’m definitely going to finish this series though! It’s so funny and engaging, and full of tense battle scenes, strong characters and a great magic history.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Review: Anne Eyre

Posted by Charlene // Tags: , , ,
Anne Eyre
by Summer Day

Plot Summary:

When eighteen year old Anne Eyre accepts a summer job at majestic Thornton Hall, she meets the handsome Nathanial Rochester – a man with a devastating secret. From the writer of Pride & Princesses and Wuthering Nights, Anne Eyre is inspired by the classic, gothic romance, Jane Eyre.

Review:

This novel is a faithful retelling of Jane Eyre, so much so, that it does little that is inventive or refreshing. It felt like a quick summary of the original novel and because of that I found most of the characters to be flat and formulaic. Anne Eyre is the most well-defined character and she has some spunky, fun moments, but on the whole she was disappointing.  Her thoughts and feelings are not very well explained and related to her actions.

Some of the changes made to the story to make it fit into modern times, felt unrealistic and unoriginal. I did read this story very quickly, as I was curious to see if the author would bring anything new to the narrative so that is a plus, but I was never impressed by the way the author retold the story. Although the writing was generally adequate, and I was glad to see the author throw in some French phrases to lend authenticity to Sophie’s origins, I felt that sometimes the thoughts expressed didn’t follow each other. An example is when Rochester asks Jane when she is coming back, and after a paragraph of Jane’s thoughts, Jane responds with how her Aunt cast her off. These things could be fixed by some editing though. Overall I found this novel disappointing and had hoped for something more.

Sixth book of ten in the 2012 Books of Eyre Reading Challenge

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Suspense Sundays (20)

Posted by Charlene // Tags: ,
"Now let's see... Suspect... Suspectant... Suspend... Ah here we are, Suspense.  The condition of mental uncertainty usually accompanied by apprehension or anxiety.  Fear of something that is about to occur, as 'Do not keep me any longer in SUSPENSE.'"

Suspense was a radio series from 1942 to 1962, claiming to be "radio's outstanding theater of thrills."  I have a fondness for "Old Time Radio" as we call it now, and Suspense is my favorite show.  It sets up weird, dark, scary, or intriguing stories with a plot twist in the end, and all in half an hour.  I love the old-fashion story-telling and I thought it would be fun to give a short review of an episode every Sunday.  




"Devil in the Summer House"
Air date: November 3, 1942
Starring Martin Gabel
Joe Parker, attorney, and Captain Burke, homicide detective meet unexpectedly at a summer house where 25 years earlier Major Kenyon committed suicide. After all this time Joe Parker has received a letter from someone who died years earlier, telling him to look in a certain drawer to find the answer to the death of Kenyon. Burke is there on official business, with his own suspicions about the death. Parker takes us flashback style to that fateful day when Kenyon was alone in the summer house and Parker was talking with Mrs. Kenyon. It seems the Major was a flirt and caused Mrs. Kenyon grief, especially with the new girl he seemed to be paying attention to. Later, when Mrs. Kenyon goes to check on her husband she finds him dead, shot through the head. It was called a suicide and Mrs. Kenyon died a year later. So why did Joe Parker receive a letter from her 25 years later?

This is a simple mystery story with a great double-backing twist. It seems like the thing is solved, and then Captain Burke interjects with the real solution. It would have been nicer to have those steps in between the false solution and the realization of the real solution better delineated, but with a half hour program it was probably impossible. However, it was an interesting and unexpected solution.
Saturday, November 10, 2012

Blogspiration (4) - Doctor Who and Friendship

Posted by Charlene // Tags: , ,

Blogspiration is a weekly meme hosted by GrowingUpYA and Saz101. The meme was created to help spark inspiration among bloggers, readers and writers alike. An inspirational quote/picture/video is posted weekly, on the day of the author's choosing, so that it may inspire creativity, conversation or just a little SOMETHING.

I love this quote!  I relate to it personally, although there is alot of meaning in it in the context of the TV show.  For me there is a twofold sentiment - one that reminds you to focus on the positive.  Think of what you love about life. And the second to think of your friends.  The people who you chose (or chose you) to be a part of your family.  Sometimes they even know you better than your family.  In the context of the show, I especially love the idea that with all the things the Doctor has seen and experienced, what he values most are the people he spent those experiences with, and how they had changed him for the better.  Actually that context works for me personally as well!


Friday, November 9, 2012

Review: Embrace

Posted by Charlene // Tags: , , ,
Embrace
by Stacey Rourke

Plot Summary:

Whether she likes it or not, eighteen year old Celeste Garrett has come to terms with being the Chosen One. She knew having a “normal life” would be tricky, between intense training sessions and epic demonic battles, but she didn’t know at what cost it would come. That is, until a dear friend is harmed by the malicious forces hunting her.

Now, she’d like nothing more than to retreat into a hermit lifestyle to prevent anyone else from getting hurt. But startling revelations, amazing new abilities, and mortifying moments in front of insanely hot guys won’t allow time for that. Soon, Celeste finds herself surrounded by darkness and wondering who she can trust—if anyone.

Review:

I was pleasantly surprised by this novel. I don’t usually like second novels more than the first, but I must say I loved Embrace more than The Conduit. The author further develops the consequences the Garret kids and especially Celeste must accept as part of the job being the force fighting against the Dark Army. With the same humor and wit, Celeste tries to make the right decisions and accept her role as leader while the Dark Army gather their troops and send unusual demons to fight them. It becomes unclear who exactly she can trust, and I was wrong about a few people I thought were trustworthy. It’s a surprising story with more kick-butt battles that kept me turning pages as fast as possible.

The romance with Caleb was sweet and slowly built, although there is that annoying insta-love element to it. There is more suspense and action in this novel, and more questions raised then answered which makes me very eager to read the next book in the series.  This is another great read with fun characters and a well-paced plot!

review copy kindly provided by the author in connection with Young Adult Novel Reader Book Tours


Thursday, November 8, 2012

Review: The Conduit

Posted by Charlene // Tags: , ,
The Conduit
by Stacey Rourke

Plot Summary:

All 18-year-old Celeste Garrett wants is to head off to college and make those fun, yet ill-advised, choices college kids are known for. And maybe to spend some time with the hot cameraman she just met. Instead, because of a pact her ancestors made in the 17th century with a mythical creature, she has to save the world.

While normal kids are slamming energy drinks and cramming for exams, Celeste will get her adrenaline rush fighting a fire breathing dragon. She wants to meet friends in the quad to exchange lecture notes, but first she must exchange blows with a shapeshifting demon on the rooftop. Life isn’t always fair for a superhero, but at least she doesn’t have to do it alone. With her brother and sister as sidekicks, they alternate between saving lives and getting on each others’ nerves. Together the trio encounters unspeakable odds, mystical forces and comes face-to-face with an image that will haunt them forever—their grandmother in a leopard print bikini.

Review:

This book is really delightful! The characters and the writing is very strong, with a story that is complex, witty, and engaging. Celeste and her siblings, Gabe and Kendall were written with very realistic and grounded details that made them easy to get to know, and sympathize with. I enjoyed the rivalry, teasing and competition between the three, and the way they worked together to fight against the common enemy. Grams is a fabulous character as well, and she gives hope to those people who think age is just a number! Seriously though I loved that she was such a non-stereotypical grandmother!

This is a fast-paced story as well - with an interesting new mythology and world-building that makes it necessary for the Garrett kids to develop new powers that are made for them to work together. It’s a cute spin on superhero stories, with a great fantasy background. The ending was also very well-crafted - suspenseful and action-packed, it kept pushing me to read faster and faster. I really enjoyed this story, and I have already started reading the second book in the series!

review copy kindly provided by the author
Check back tomorrow for my review of the second book in the series!


Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Awesome Adaptations (11) - Wicked

Posted by Charlene // Tags: ,

Awesome Adaptations is a weekly bookish meme, hosted at Alisa Selene’s books blog, Picturemereading.  Anyone can play along! Each week there is a new category of adaptation to blog about. Any format (television series, film, web series, etc.) is acceptable as long as it is based in some form on a book. If you’re playing along on your own blog, just mention Picturemereading in your post and include the banner above. Let them know which film you’d pick and why it is an awesome adaptation worth watching. Oh, and don’t forget to share the link to your own post in the comments for that week’s challenge so that everyone can read your thoughts!

An awesome adaptation of a not so awesome book
Title: Wicked (A New Musical)
Adapted from Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire

Who can say if I've been changed for the better
But because I knew you
I have been changed for good.

I really did not enjoy the Gregory Maguire novel.  It felt rambly, purposeless, had unsympathetic characters who made bad choices that only made me very frustrated with them.  And the ending didn't really tie up everything for me.  But I love the musical based on the book a ridiculous amount.  So kudos to Winnie Holzman and Stephen Schwartz!  This is why I think it is so awesome:

  • The focus on Elphaba and Glinda and their friendship.
They are similarly ambitious and differently talented, yet in the beginning, they do not like each other at all.  And then a touching friendship evolves that embraces what is different between them, and endures through the subsequent trials in the story.  They each made the other better. The finale always makes me teary.  Although there is romance for Elphaba, the real heart of the musical is from the friendship between Elphaba and Glinda.

  • The tragedy of Elphaba
The musical starts off with the joy the people feel in the Wicked Witch's death.  And then the story is reverse engineered to show how Elphaba was a good person who tried to do good, but was a victim of fear and people's unwillingness to accept that which is different.  The Maguire novel has an Elphaba who is less blameless because the story is more about a victim who does bad things for a good reason.  And in the musical, the 'good' witch Glinda is not so good because she is too afraid to stand up for Elphaba when things started getting out of hand.  So much more interesting to see Elphaba in this light I think, as someone who really never deserved to be called wicked.

  • The music
I think this is one of the reasons this musical is so Popular, because the songs are so darn catchy.  They are also heartfelt and cover a wide range of emotions - from elation, to jealousy, to love and loss and ambition.  I also appreciate the repeating themes and motifs in the music.  For instance, I just learned that the beginning chord progression on "No One Mourns the Wicked", a brash celebration of the death of the witch, is the same as the beginning of "As Long As You're Mine" which is a romantic duet.  I find that fascinating and it's fun to discover new things in the music you've been listening to a thousand times.

These are just a few of the aspects of this musical that make it one of my favorites.  I didn't even mention how cool I thought it was that the musical gave a backstory for the Cowardly Lion and the Tin Man and the Scarecrow which the Maguire book did not do.  I also think the first act finale is the best, most thrilling finale I have ever seen in a musical.  I love this show so much.  It is ridiculously awesome!


Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Review: Gifted

Posted by Charlene // Tags: , ,
Gifted
by Annalise Hulse

Plot Summary:

What really happens when we die?

It wasn't a question that seventeen year old Evangeline Devine - Evie to her friends - had ever thought about much. There was no reason why she should - her life on the small island of Jersey with her family and best friend Seth was untouched by tragedy, idyllic even.

Until the day that Evie nearly dies herself. When Seth pulls her from the watery depths that nearly claim her life, Evie is no longer the carefree girl she was. For now she is the recipient of an unwelcome supernatural gift. Now the dead are all around and impossible to ignore.

But when someone close to her dies mysteriously, Evie is forced to embrace her new power, for she may be the only one that can prove that it was no accident. Someone is getting away with murder.

With only the spirit world for guidance, Evie sets out to uncover the truth and find the vital evidence she needs to get the case re-opened.Soon she finds herself torn between her feelings for best friend Seth, who she's begun to see in a whole new light since he saved her life, and the powerfully charismatic Piers Du Pont, who she finds herself inexplicably drawn to, even though he might just be the killer that she seeks. As events unfold, dark secrets are revealed, loyalties are tested to their limits and Evie discovers that the path that Fate has chosen for her is more terrifying than she ever could have imagined.

Life, should she survive, will never be the same again..........

Review:

The characters the author creates are incredibly vivid and relatable. I found myself tearing up over many poignant scenes and stories that Evie has to hear. I think this is because the author sets up the background and the lives of the characters so well, that their emotion comes through so strongly. I was very impressed by how much interest there was in the stories of the ghosts that passed on.

The mystery aspect of the novel was in some ways predictable, but in most ways surprising. I loved the building of tension over the two most suspicious characters - I was almost constantly switching back and forth over who I thought was guilty. The resolution of the mystery though was perfect and I could see it was really the obvious answer.

The romance in the novel was a little overstated at times for my taste, and felt a little contrived, especially with the way they two were kept apart. It’s a very sweet romance though, and the characters, as the author does so well, were extremely well-realized. This book sets up a bigger story-line that involves the main characters needing to use their powers to combat evil in some way, and I think this novel is a great set up for the rest of the series!

review copy kindly provided by the author


Monday, November 5, 2012

Review: Girl of Nightmares

Posted by Charlene // Tags: , ,
Girl of Nightmares
by Kendare Blake

Plot Summary:

It's been months since the ghost of Anna Korlov opened a door to Hell in her basement and disappeared into it, but ghost-hunter Cas Lowood can't move on.

His friends remind him that Anna sacrificed herself so that Cas could live—not walk around half dead. He knows they're right, but in Cas's eyes, no living girl he meets can compare to the dead girl he fell in love with.

Now he's seeing Anna everywhere: sometimes when he's asleep and sometimes in waking nightmares. But something is very wrong...these aren't just daydreams. Anna seems tortured, torn apart in new and ever more gruesome ways every time she appears.

Cas doesn't know what happened to Anna when she disappeared into Hell, but he knows she doesn't deserve whatever is happening to her now. Anna saved Cas more than once, and it's time for him to return the favor.

Review:

This book was a surprise for me. I felt like the story, and the direction the author took the characters was very natural and in keeping with the world she created, but for some reason it didn’t draw me in as much as the first book. The search to find out what happened to Anna and where she was felt too prolonged perhaps, even though there were many revelations about the origins of the athame and the people who created it that was interesting to me. The ending was a little predictable as well which made the story a tad (just a tad!) lackluster for me.

The writing, the characters and the snark are all in top form though, and this novel is a believable sequel to Anna Dressed in Blood that answers many questions that were set up in the first book. The story is enjoyable and only suffers to me in comparison to the first book which I loved. I think though that many people will also love this book as it is a great ending to Anna and Cas’ story, and adds more depth to all of the main characters.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Suspense Sundays (19)

Posted by Charlene // Tags: ,
"Now let's see... Suspect... Suspectant... Suspend... Ah here we are, Suspense.  The condition of mental uncertainty usually accompanied by apprehension or anxiety.  Fear of something that is about to occur, as 'Do not keep me any longer in SUSPENSE.'"

Suspense was a radio series from 1942 to 1962, claiming to be "radio's outstanding theater of thrills."  I have a fondness for "Old Time Radio" as we call it now, and Suspense is my favorite show.  It sets up weird, dark, scary, or intriguing stories with a plot twist in the end, and all in half an hour.  I love the old-fashion story-telling and I thought it would be fun to give a short review of an episode every Sunday.  




"A Passage to Banaries"
Air date: September 23, 1942
Starring ---
In Trinidad, a newly wed bride is murdered in a Hindu temple, and her husband is put in jail. But some beggars were sleeping in the temple and the police found pieces of the bride’s jewelry on them. However this looks like someone tried to frame those beggars. Lowe and Pagioli are looking into the mystery, with Pagioli thinking there is more to it than meets the eye. The husband is released because he could prove he was not at the temple, and the police find that Pagioli slept over in the temple and has more jewelry from the bride hidden in his suitcase. He’s convicted and sentenced to hang for the murder.

He didn’t do it, and it is surprising who actually did. And their motive is disturbing and related to the Hindu religion. I wonder if the Hindu beliefs behind the motive is even accurate as I wouldn’t put a poor understanding of different religions past writers in the forties. The final line in this episode is a completely unexpected twist that I’m not even sure it means what I think it means. Because it is so unexpected. SPOILER!!  Basically, Pagioli realizes who the murderer was after he was convicted, and he calls out for someone from his jail cell. Someone does come and when Pagioli reveals his theory, the man says that man had already confessed to it. Pagioli asks why he was not already released then and the man says he couldn’t do it. He says the man confessed a month and ten days after Pagioli was hanged. WHAT? So we’ve been listening to a dead man?? Crazyness.
Saturday, November 3, 2012

Blogspiration (3) - Doctor Who and Life

Posted by Charlene // Tags: , ,

Blogspiration is a weekly meme hosted by GrowingUpYA and Saz101. The meme was created to help spark inspiration among bloggers, readers and writers alike. An inspirational quote/picture/video is posted weekly, on the day of the author's choosing, so that it may inspire creativity, conversation or just a little SOMETHING.

You know, when you watch Doctor Who, you think it's all time travel, a blue box, scary adventures, aliens, and that's it.  The truth is, the show is so much deeper than that.  And so much darker.  And so much madder.  And so much better. :)

The truth is, the show celebrates so much about life and humanity that I can't help but be inspired by the characters and the writing and the stories.  Since it's Whovember, I would like to feature Doctor Who during the five Blogspiration posts this month.  Of course the Doctor isn't going to take me on adventures and change my life, but one thing I love in the show is how the companions change their own lives by opening themselves up to new experiences and making sacrifices and being brave.


Note: The quote in the picture is from an episode in Season 2, and the picture is from Season 5.  I thought it fit really well though because the girl in the picture has all those experiences mentioned in the show and everything more.