Showing posts with label four and a half birdcages. Show all posts
Showing posts with label four and a half birdcages. Show all posts

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Review: Draw 50: Sea Creatures by Lee J. Ames with Erin Harvey

35272546Title: Draw 50: Sea Creatures
Author: Lee J. Ames with Erin Harvey
Source/Format: Blogging from Books; Paperback
More Details: How-to; Nonfiction
Publisher/Publication Date: Watson-Guptill; July 25, 2017

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Synopsis from Goodreads...

Part of the best-selling Draw 50 series this step-by-step guide to drawing various fish, sharks, oysters, bottlenose dolphins, crabs, polar bears, coral, and other ocean life is for artists of all levels. In this new installment of Lee J. Ames's beloved Draw 50 series, readers will find easy-to-follow, step-by-step visual lessons on sketching and rendering all kinds of sea and ocean-dwelling creatures. Animals and plants from in and near the water featured in the book include clownfish, whale sharks, sea otters, dolphins, turtles and more...
When it comes to drawing books, I don’t typically reach for ones that are specifically how-to or step by step. I like reading about the technical aspect instead. However, my goal is to improve on certain parts of my drawing skills that I consider to be weaker than others. So, when I saw Draw 50: Sea Creatures I couldn’t resist.

My first impression of this book is that it was a lot smaller than I expected it to be. I’m not too familiar with Step-by-step books, but from the description I expected this one to be a little thicker, page wise anyway. Also, the examples of the process did not have any text to offer further explanation. However, that wasn’t necessarily needed because the steps are pretty straightforward.

To get a good feel for how well this book works, I broke out my new sketchbook and drew five of the creatures in pencil. I tried to follow as many steps as I could. At some points, I did find myself skipping to the last step. However, that was mainly because I’m not a total beginner and didn’t end up needing the skipped steps to get to the finished drawing. That being said, Draw 50: Sea Creatures is good for beginners. The steps are simple visual examples that could be helpful with learning the basics of sea creatures. Even I found this book to be a good exercise. I also liked the fact that there was a pretty good mixture of creatures to draw like conch shells, blue claw crabs, pelicans, lionfish, narwhals, puffins, and sharks—just to name a few.

Overall, Draw 50: Sea Creatures was better than I thought it would be. I’m keeping this one on my shelf, because I have a feeling that I’m going to end up getting a lot of use out of this book. (Actual rating 4.5 out of 5)
This copy of the book was provided by Blogging for Books (Publisher) for this review. 
About Lee J. Ames...

Lee J. Ames began his career at the Walt Disney Studies, working on films such as Fantasia and Pinocchio. He taught at the School of Visual Arts in Manhattan, and at Dowling College on Long Island, New York. An avid worker, Ames directed his own advertising agency, illustrated for several magazines, and illustrated approximately 150 books that range from picture books to postgraduate texts. He resided in Dix Hills, Long Island, with his wife, Jocelyn, until his death in June 2011...

About Erin Harvey...

Erin Harvey is an artist who works primarily in pencils, charcoals, oils, and pen and ink. She lives outside Atlanta with her husband, Ben, and their two children. 

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

ARC Review: Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor

Akata Witch (Akata Witch, #1)Title: Akata Witch
Author: Nnedi Okorafor
Source/Format: First to Read; eARC
More Details: Young Adult; Fantasy
Publisher/Publication Date: Speak; July 11, 2017

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Synopsis from Goodreads...

Sunny Nwazue lives in Nigeria, but she was born in New York City. Her features are West African, but she's albino. She's a terrific athlete, but can't go out into the sun to play soccer. There seems to be no place where she fits in. And then she discovers something amazing—she is a "free agent" with latent magical power. And she has a lot of catching up to do. Soon she's part of a quartet of magic students, studying the visible and invisible, learning to change reality. But just as she's finding her footing, Sunny and her friends are asked by the magical authorities to help track down a career criminal who knows magic, too. Will their training be enough to help them against a threat whose powers greatly outnumber theirs?
I’ve been hearing about Akata Witch for a couple of years now and was excited to get a chance to read an eARC of it. On the surface, it appeared to have all the elements I look for in a fantasy. However, I had some reservations about approaching a book that had a substantial amount of hype. That being said, I really enjoyed Akata Witch. There was so much about the story that just clicked for me. So, I’ve seriously had to stop and wonder why I haven’t read any of Nnedi Okrafore’s novels before. Obviously, I’ve been missing out!

The synopsis of this book promises magic, and it fully delivers on that and more. I’d like to just say that I liked this book and you should read it too, but that doesn’t explain why. I’ll start with the story. The story of this book moves at its own pace, and honestly, I didn’t mind because there were a lot of details to take in. There was magic, lots of it actually. That being said, Okrafore put such a fresh and imaginative spin on it that the premise of the story felt entirely new. In that way, I enjoyed the world building a lot and found Okrafore’s version of a magically inclined society interesting and unique. It’s probably one of my favorites thanks to how the characters interacted with each other and the places around them. There were so many cool elements to the story and setting, and I can’t talk about them for fear of accidently spoiling the story. Just know that they were cool.

Before I end this review, I want to mention the characters. Let me just say that they were amazing, especially the main character, Sunny. From the start, I instantly loved how Okrafore portrayed her character. While the core of Akata Witch was arguably Sunny’s journey as she learned how to handle her abilities as a “free agent,” it was also about learning, teamwork, and friendship. The friendship between Sunny and her new friends was one of my favorite things about Akata Witch.

At the end of the day, I’m really looking forward to reading more books by Nnedi Okrafore, especially Akata Warrior. Also, I’ve heard a lot of praise for her Binti series. So I’ll eventually read those books too.

(Actual rating 4.5 out of 5 birdcages)

This copy of the book was provided by First to Read for this review.
About the author...

Nnedi Okorafor is an international award-winning novelist of African-based science fiction, fantasy and magical realism for both children and adults. Born in the United States to two Nigerian immigrant parents, Nnedi is known for weaving African culture into creative evocative settings and memorable characters. In a profile of Nnedi’s work titled, “Weapons of Mass Creation”, The New York Times called Nnedi’s imagination “stunning”. Nnedi Okorafor’s books include Lagoon (a British Science Fiction Association Award finalist for Best Novel), Who Fears Death (a World Fantasy Award winner for Best Novel), Kabu Kabu (A Publisher's Weekly Best Book for Fall 2013), Akata Witch (an Best Book of the Year), Zahrah the Windseeker (winner of the Wole Soyinka Prize for African Literature), and The Shadow Speaker (a CBS Parallax Award winner). Her latest works include her novel The Book of Phoenix and her novella Binti (a finalist for a Nebula and British Science Fiction Award). Nnedi is an associate professor at the University at Buffalo, New York (SUNY). Learn more at

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Review: The Gauntlet by Karuna Riazi

The GauntletTitle: The Gauntlet
Author: Karuna Raizi 
Source/Format: Borrowed from the Library; Hardcover
More Details: Middle Grade; Fantasy
Publisher/Publication Date: Salaam Reads; March 28, 2017

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Synopsis from Goodreads...

A trio of friends from New York City find themselves trapped inside a mechanical board game that they must dismantle in order to save themselves and generations of other children in this action-packed debut that’s a steampunk Jumanji with a Middle Eastern flair...

When twelve-year-old Farah and her two best friends get sucked into a mechanical board game called The Gauntlet of Blood and Sand—a puzzle game akin to a large Rubik’s cube—they know it’s up to them to defeat the game’s diabolical architect in order to save themselves and those who are trapped inside, including her baby brother Ahmed. But first they have to figure out how. Under the tutelage of a lizard guide named Henrietta Peel and an aeronaut Vijay, the Farah and her friends battle camel spiders, red scorpions, grease monkeys, and sand cats as they prepare to face off with the maniacal Lord Amari, the man behind the machine. Can they defeat Amari at his own game…or will they, like the children who came before them, become cogs in the machine?
Whenever I see a book that has a dangerous board game of some kind mentioned in the synopsis, I only approach them with just one tiny expectation: Jumanji vibes. That’s it, that’s all I’m looking for. And The Gauntlet by Karuna Riazi delivered all that in the best way possible. This book was a whole lot of fun.

Despite what happened to the characters and the challenges they faced, The Gauntlet was a quick-paced and very entertaining book. One big draw was the characters. Not much time was spent on the everyday life of the characters, but I loved all the details about Farah’s family. Since The Gauntlet takes place in a world contained inside of an unpredictable board game, it had a very Jumanji/Zathura feel to it—with the added bonus of a steampunk flare that I happened to like. All the bits of machinery mixed in with the rest of the scenery gave the story an eerie atmosphere. That brings me to another thing I liked: the scenery. The descriptions of the actual game were among my favorite paragraphs from this book. Riazi created a vivid picture of what the Gauntlet was, what it looked like, and how the rules of the game worked. The challenges were neat, and I liked how much of the story resembled an actual game.

There were just a couple of things that I felt mixed about, but talking about them here would spoil the story. But I will say that it wasn’t really a fault, more of a pet peeve of mine. Other than that, I loved everything else about the story.

The Gauntlet is one of the best books I’ve read so far this year. I’m really looking forward to what Karuna Riazi writes next. Actual rating 4.5 Birdcages.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Review: Windfall by Jennifer E. Smith

WindfallTitle: Windfall
Author: Jennifer E. Smith
Source/Format: Blogging For Books; Hardcover
More Details: Young Adult; Contemporary
Publisher/Publication Date: Delacorte Press; May 2, 2017

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Synopsis from Goodreads...

Alice doesn’t believe in luck—at least, not the good kind. But she does believe in love, and for some time now, she’s been pining for her best friend, Teddy. On his eighteenth birthday—just when it seems they might be on the brink of something—she buys him a lottery ticket on a lark. To their astonishment, he wins $140 million, and in an instant, everything changes. At first, it seems like a dream come true, especially since the two of them are no strangers to misfortune. As a kid, Alice won the worst kind of lottery possible when her parents died just over a year apart from each other. And Teddy’s father abandoned his family not long after that, leaving them to grapple with his gambling debts. Through it all, Teddy and Alice have leaned on each other. But now, as they negotiate the ripple effects of Teddy’s newfound wealth, a gulf opens between them. And soon, the money starts to feel like more of a curse than a windfall. As they try to find their way back to each other, Alice learns more about herself than she ever could have imagined . . . and about the unexpected ways in which luck and love sometimes intersect...
I read This Is What Happy Looks Like back in 2013. So, it’s been a couple of years since I read anything by Jennifer E. Smith. Needless to say, I was more than excited to get the chance to review her latest book. Windfall was an engrossing read, and I ended up finishing it in one sitting. Obviously, I really enjoyed this book a lot.

Windfall was a lovely story—that’s the only way I know how to describe it in a few words—and there was something refreshingly simple about it that I really enjoyed. I haven’t read anything in the young adult contemporary side in a while, so maybe that’s why I feel that way. Windfall was just right. It was everything I was hoping it would be and reminded me why I got into Smith’s stories in the first place.

When I saw the synopsis, I was kind of interested to see what Smith could do with something like a lottery win of $140 million, and how that could change the relationship between characters—who were ordinary—for better or for worse. It turned out to be an interesting story. Sure, Teddy does what any winner would do—he goes on extravagant spending sprees, and yeah, it goes right to his head. But Windfall also takes a look at the smaller things in life, the consequences of strained relationships, and unexpected losses—and the emotional repercussions. It was also about making mistakes and growing. I felt like the characters were given the space to learn from their mistakes, and discover where they want to be, and what truely makes them happy.

Windfall is one of the best YA books I’ve read so far in 2017. I haven’t really kept up with Jennifer E. Smith’s books, but now I want to go back and check out some of the other stories that I’ve missed. (Actual Rating 4.5 birdcages out of 5)

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review, thank you!
About the author...

Jennifer E. Smith is the author of eight books for young adults, including WINDFALL and THE STATISTICAL PROBABILITY OF LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT. She earned her master's degree in creative writing from the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, and her writing has been translated into 33 languages...

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Review: The Torn Wing by Kiki Hamilton

The Torn Wing (The Faerie Ring, #2)Title: The Torn Wing
Author: Kiki Hamilton
Source/Format: Purchased; ebook
More Details: Fantasy; Young Adult 
Publisher/Publication Date: Gaslamp Books; August 9, 2012

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Synopsis from Goodreads...

London 1872 - 

A bloody escape, a deadly threat, a shocking revelation...

As an orphan who stole the Queen's ring - only to find the ring was a reservoir that held a truce between the world of Faerie and the British Court - Tiki’s greatest fear suddenly becomes all too real: the fey have returned to London seeking revenge. As war escalates in the Otherworld, Queen Victoria’s youngest son, Prince Leopold, is attacked. In order to protect her family and those she loves, Tiki needs to know the meaning of an fáinne sí, the birthmark that winds around her wrist. But will she be brave enough to face the truth?
So, I had no idea what to expect with The Torn Wing by Kiki Hamilton. I was unfamiliar with the author, but I knew that I had the book on my ereader for a long time. I’m having a lot of fun with backlist books lately, and I hoped to continue that trend when I decided to give The Torn Wing a try. I knew it was the second book in the series. I knew I didn’t have a copy of The Faerie Ring, but once I started reading I knew I was going to finish it anyway.

Have you ever come across those books where you read the first couple of pages, and you’re automatically like “I’m going to like this”? Well, that’s how it was for me. The Torn Wing started off really good, and I was immediately curious about the circumstances of the characters—and what the rest of the book had in store for them. The writing was excellent and had a nice flow to it with enough descriptions to flesh-out the setting. And because of that, it was easy to get into the story.

From the details spread throughout the book, it was easy to pick up on what happened in The Faerie Ring. And while I didn’t know the full story, there was enough information in conversations, interactions, and the character’s internal thoughts for me to get a good grasp on what happened. I’ve read enough books to recognize common tropes used in novels that involve faeries. However, the plot of The Torn Wing was one of its shining features, and I found it to be really interesting. I enjoyed Hamilton’s take on faeries, and the central conflict that directly stemmed from their part of the story.

The characters were also great. I think that Hamilton did a good job showing the bonds between Tiki and her friends—and her growing feelings for a certain character. It seemed very grounded and real—certainly plausible given the circumstances they collectively came from. Some of my favorite moments were definitely their interactions with one another.

So, the Torn Wing is easily one of the best books I’ve read this year, and I would definitely consider picking up another one of Hamilton’s novels. (Actual rating 4.5 out of 5)

Monday, May 30, 2016

ARC Review: Oleah Chronicles: Justice by Michelle Johnson

Oleah Chronicles: JusticeTitle: Oleah Chronicles: Justice
Author: Michelle Johnson
Source/Format: Author, EARC
More Details: Young Adult, Fantasy, Paranormal
Publisher/Publication Date: Michelle Johnson, May 15, 2016

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Synopsis from Goodreads...

After discovering the truth about her Oleah origins, Angel thought she could still have a normal life, consisting of normal things – like her seventeenth birthday party. But there is no such thing as normal for Angel anymore. She learned that the hard way after Sindrell – the most powerful sorceress in the universe - crashed her party, destroyed the city, and took her best friend, Julie, captive. Determined to defeat Sindrell for good, Angel must risk her life, along with the fate of the entire universe to get Julie back…alive. The only way she can do this successfully, is to embrace her Oleah instincts and learn what it takes to become a true warrior. Problem is, Sindrell has an insurance policy of her own that will put millions of lives in danger - including Zander’s - to ensure her quest for power is brought to fruition. One way or another. In order to protect Zander, and save Julie, Angel has to make a choice... but will it be the right one?
Author Michelle Johnson is back with the next installment of the Oleah Chronicles. Oleah Chronicles Justice is another amazing young adult fantasy/paranormal novel. And unlike some young adult novels, there are edgy moments between Angel and Zander, but the romance never overshadowed the plot. The intense action filled moments are also well done. They are so vividly depicted that I can only imagine this series playing out on the screen.

In this second installment of the Oleah Chronicles, it begins with training day as Angel learns discipline and self-control, before taking on Sindrell, the most powerful sorceress, in an attempt to save her friend, Julie, and all of humanity. Johnson does an amazing job of bringing the reader into the moment with the depiction of the emotional turmoil that Angel experiences and the action sequences throughout the novel. One difference found in Justice is that it immediately takes on a dark tone as it picks up where Truth left off. Angel is the key to peace; yet she has some growing up to do as she struggles with overcoming her guilt while she learns to use her gifts to save her friend Julie. I loved the fact that she maintained her teen persona with her quirky comments and reactions to certain situations as she was being transformed into a kickass warrior. I also liked the fact that she looked to her parents for advice and approval-Let me just say that their relationship was very ordinary in a supernatural setting.

Although this story was a bit gory, the fluid writing, well-developed characters and engaging storyline hooked me from the beginning. If you haven’t read the first book in the series, Truth, I would suggest that you pick up a copy and start at the beginning, because Justice begins at the point in which Truth ended—a point that left me longing for Oleah Chronicles: Justice to be released. And now… I ‘m eagerly awaiting the next installment of the Oleah Chronicles and future work by Michelle Johnson! (Actual Rating 4.5)
This copy of the book was provided by the author for this review, thank you!
About the Author...

Throughout my childhood I was always told I had a very creative imagination. I was drawn to stories of mythical creatures and all things that would usually give my peers the heebie geebies. Shows like Tales from the Crypt Keeper and Buffy the Vampire Slayer were among some of my favourites. I developed a strong passion for design and illustration, drawing the ideas that arose in my head and finding great excitement in bringing them to life. This led me to pursue a career in graphic design and marketing so that I could always use my creativity to the fullest. I have always loved reading and the way a compelling story would allow my mind to absorb its detailed imagery. I began to use writing as a tool to bring my creative thoughts to fruition one day, which has brought me to this moment. I'm a romantic at heart and a sucker for stories about true love which is reflected in my writing and helped bring the Oleah Chronicles to life. I hope you enjoy my first book and through it you experience the eccentric vision that began in my mind so long ago.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Review: Founding Myths: Stories that Hide Our Patriotic Past by Ray Raphael

Founding Myths: Stories that Hide Our Patriotic PastTitle: Founding Myths: Stories that Hide Our Patriotic Past
Author: Ray Raphael
Source/Format: Purchased, Hardcover
More Details: Nonfiction, History
Publisher/Publication Date: MJF Books, August 11, 2007

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Synopsis from Goodreads...

Much of what you thought you knew about American history is wrong...

Our best-loved tales actually sell America short, Raphael says. This nation was founded not just by the handful of "founding fathers" we have come to admire, but also by the revolutionary activities of innumerable and nameless patriots who are not mentioned in textbooks. Why should only a select few get the credit? The collaborative spirit and effort of the American people is an important concept for children (and adults) to learn...
“The stories work best because they clarify and vindicate who we are—but they also conceal who we don’t want to be.” (p.244).

What if the Revolutionary War could not be defined by simple paragraphs that summarized the events that transpired? What could be the reason to twist fact and mix it with speculation—to make for a better story? Sometimes the cause was poor record keeping at the time, or simply a romanticization of facts to make historical events into a favorable story—good vs evil. All those things and more were explored in Founding Myths by Ray Raphael.

Founding Myths can be summed up by one simple phrase: food for thought. This book gave me a lot to think about. The founding myths, as explored in this book, painted a grim but realistic picture of history, in contrast to the almost rosy-hued lens that gave misconceptions popularity among fact. This selective isolation of stories overshadowed real accomplishments, struggles, and suffering—and gave a narrow view to a broad history. One thing that I noticed while reading the book is that there were a few common themes: effort, collaboration, and strategic planning/preparation. Founding Myths offered an organized look at the events that gradually led to the Revolutionary War. The book also made mention of the ordinary people who had taken part in such monumental events in history instead of focusing on one limited group—as well as the state of politics/alliances abroad during the same time period.

The best books, whether they're nonfiction or fiction, leave a lasting impression. That was my reaction to Founding Myths, and I’m glad I decided to give it a chance. (Actual rating 4.5)

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Review: The Madman's Daughter by Megan Shepherd

The Madman's Daughter (The Madman's Daughter, #1)Title:The Madman's Daughter
Author: Megan Shepherd
Source/Format: Won, Paperback
More Details: Young Adult, Historical, Horror,  
Publisher/Publication Date: Balzer + Bray, January 29, 2013

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Synopsis from Goodreads...

Sixteen-year-old Juliet Moreau has built a life for herself in London—working as a maid, attending church on Sundays, and trying not to think about the scandal that ruined her life. After all, no one ever proved the rumors about her father's gruesome experiments. But when she learns he is alive and continuing his work on a remote tropical island, she is determined to find out if the accusations are true. Accompanied by her father's handsome young assistant, Montgomery, and an enigmatic castaway, Edward—both of whom she is deeply drawn to—Juliet travels to the island, only to discover the depths of her father's madness: He has experimented on animals so that they resemble, speak, and behave as humans. And worse, one of the creatures has turned violent and is killing the island's inhabitants. Torn between horror and scientific curiosity, Juliet knows she must end her father's dangerous experiments and escape her jungle prison before it's too late. Yet as the island falls into chaos, she discovers the extent of her father's genius—and madness—in her own blood.

Inspired by H. G. Wells's classic The Island of Dr. Moreau, The Madman's Daughter is a dark and breathless Gothic thriller about the secrets we'll do anything to know and the truths we'll go to any lengths to protect...
The synopsis says “Inspired by H. G. Wells's classic The Island of Dr. Moreau,” and I definitely got what I was looking for with The Madman’s Daughter by Megan Shepherd. The overall feel was pretty creepy given the themes that heavily influenced the story and the setting—there were always those lingering details that hinted at underlying mysteries—not everything was as it seemed.

The beginning started out by introducing Juliet Moreau, showing the situation she was left in after a scandal involving her father ruined her family. And when I say ruined, I really mean that the incident absolutely decimated their reputation. And London was a society based on reputation. It wasn’t a kind place to Juliet—proven by her living situation and current employment. But the interesting portions of the novel definitely happened after she departed from London for the tropical island in search of her father.

Juliet was a pretty good protagonist—minus her indecisiveness about her two main love interests. Juliet’s father was also a main focus of the story, and the broken bonds between the two were well developed. It was easy to see that Juliet was clinging to the vision she had of him as a child—she tried really hard to see the good in him—and for a second there I almost bought it. Throughout the novel things began to happen which slowly picked apart the first appearances shown by most of the characters. Everyone had their secrets. There was bitterness, but it was expected and justified.

The Madman’s Daughter was a long book, but I liked its length and the details put into developing the story and the setting. The horror aspect is another detail worth noting because it was done well, and by the time I got to the end I still had a lot of unanswered questions about the fate of the characters. Needless to say, I am curious to know how the trilogy ends. (Actual rating 4.5)

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Review: Living Violet by Jamie Reed

Living Violet (The Cambion Chronicles, #1)Title: Living Violet
Author: Jamie Reed
Source/Format: freebie, iTunes ebook edition
Age Range: YA
Publisher/Publication Date: Dafina, December 27, 2011

My Thoughts:

     It occurs to me now that I never reviewed this book even though I read it last year…a shocking fact since it was so good. Living Violet is an interesting take on the typical paranormal romance with a diverse cast of characters who had interesting familial backgrounds. The opening scene was entertaining to say the least and caught my attention almost right away. The paranormal aspect of this book was vastly different from the vampires, werewolves, witches, and so on that you normally find. Cambion’s, demons who steal the life right out of people…yeah, they certainly weren’t vampires. And to top it all off Samara Marshall wasn’t your typical run-of-the-mill, clichéd main character, she was a character with mixed heritage. Caleb and the rest of the characters…well if you want to know about them, then you’ll have to read Living Violet. So, if you’re looking for a paranormal book with a different take on demons, and a variety of characters, then I highly recommend taking a look at The Cambion Chronicles. (Actual rating is 4.5 birdcages.)

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Movie Review: Need for Speed directed by Scott Waugh

Director: Scott Waugh
Producer (s): John Gatins, Patrick O'Brien, Mark Sourian, Shane Black
Rating: PG-13
Release Date: March 14, 2014
For more on the move visit the Official Site

My Thoughts:

     I was lucky enough to get tickets to see an advanced screening of Need for Speed back in February—yeah, I saw it kind of early, and I was glad for it too—so I decided to do a bit of a review for it.

     Judging by the trailer it seems almost…I don’t know lackluster. But don’t judge it by how that trailer looks. Need for Speed was something else, something I hadn’t even expected. For starters, I found the movie surprisingly good, it was very entertaining. And for someone who likes car movies then this is it folks—this movie should be on your radar. Despite a seemingly slow beginning where the key players of the movie are introduced and the plot is initially set up, once the whole thing got rolling—literally—well it had me on the edge of my seat. It was surprising. Really, you seriously never knew what was going to happen next, and eventually I found myself rooting for the characters to succeed. There were so many unexpected moments that by the end I was almost wishing for a sequel. Really, it was like watching a Need for Speed game come to life! But Need for Speed wasn't all about cars and races, there was a story to it. There were some very emotional moments in movie, most of them surrounding Tobey Marshall and his friends—Benny, Pete, Joe Peck, & Finn. I can’t reveal anything about certain incidents but it really set up the course for the movie. I liked how the directors and the screenwriters decided to portray Tobey’s determination to succeed. New bonds were formed, while old ones faded away, and there were high-stake races to be had—losses and victories to happen. I do have a bit of a warning: there was one instance of nudity. But all in all, it was a good movie. (Actual rating is 4.5)
Check out the Trailer Below!

And this video about multimillion dollar sports cars.  I think if I had a car that was THAT expensive, I'd cry if someone scratched the paint...I think I really would.

So, are you planning on seeing Need for Speed, or are you going to skip it?

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Review: Midnight Frost by Jennifer Estep

Midnight Frost (Mythos Academy, #5)Title:Midnight Frost (Click title for Synopsis)
Source/Format: Purchased, Paperback
Age Range: YA
Publisher/Publication Date: K-Teen, July 30, 2013

My Thoughts:
     Jennifer Estep is at it again with another wonderful addition to the Mythos Academy series!  After waiting for some time to get my copy, I was anxious to read it.  While some parts may have been slightly same-old-same-old with a familiar feel to them.  Midnight Frost is easily one of the best books I’ve read all year.  Combined with skillful writing, lovable characters, adorable yet dangerous mythological beasts, Midnight Frost was awesome. 

     Midnight Frost picks up where Crimson Frost left off, with Gwen dealing with the fallout of the events that transpired.  I liked that fact that she was still struggling with what happened, and not suddenly all ok with it just out of the blue.  Her reaction to it was realistic, which made me like her as a main character even more.  On the topic of Gwen, well her friends were great as always.  They were loyal and always had her back when times got rough.  And oh, Logan, why were you so absent?  But when he did finally show up, and when they finally did talk, well, I can’t really say—if you want to know, read the book.

     The plot, wow, it was filled with Reapers who kept showing up everywhere.  I really enjoyed the action scenes, and the descriptions really helped me visualize what was going on and where it was happening.  Secrets that have been surrounding Gwen and her family from book one are finally solved, and I liked the way Estep handled the big reveal.  The writing style was strong as always, which made Midnight Frost an easy book to get into.  I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and I can’t wait for the next one to come out.  {Actual rating 4.5}

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Early Movie Review: Pacific Rim directed by Guillermo del Toro

Pacific Rim poster
Title: Pacific Rim
Director: Guillermo del Toro
Producer: Thomas Tull, Jon Jashni, Guillermo del Toro, Mary Parent
Screenplay: Travis Beacham, Guillermo del Toro
Story by: Travis Beacham
Rating: PG-13
Release Date: July 12, 2013
For more info on the movie visit the official site HERE

My thoughts:

        So, last night I saw an advanced screening of Pacific Rim, yeah, awesome giant robots called Jaegers that battle monsters—that also happen to be you know, GIANT—rising out of the sea. Uh-huh, what’s not to like about that? That’s the point, Pacific Rim was my kind of movie. It blended near-apocalyptic elements perfectly with technology only found in science fiction!

          Raleigh Becket, oh gosh, the guy started out as a Jaeger pilot that came off as a little too arrogant for his own good. But certain events changed him, and in the end he had to live with those decisions. Then there was Mako Mori, once I knew her history, I understood where she was coming from. There were other characters, but I won’t go into that. I don’t think I could say much about certain ones without spoiling the entire movie. Although, I will say that one of my favorite characters from the movie was Dr. Newton Geizler, the guy was spontaneous and reckless when it came to his research.

      Oh, the plot of Pacific Rim, it was fast paced despite the length of the movie, and the dialogue was kept in check. Almost from the very beginning the action started as mankind tried to take a stand against the invaders, Kaiju. The technology behind the Jaegers was pretty impressive, and the concept in itself was enough to grab my attention. It wasn’t all just mindless fighting.  There was a story to it that I liked seeing. At times, the movie left me questioning the decisions of a few characters, and the ending…no, on second thought I don’t think I’ll say anything about that.   Because I want to be as vague as possible about this, I’ll just end this review here since I could go on all day. But if you want to know how it ends, well, you’ll have to see Pacific Rim for yourself to find out, because I’m not telling you. {Actual rating 4.5}

I won tickets to an advanced screening.

Check out the trailer below

Monday, July 8, 2013

Review: Ink by Amanda Sun

Ink (Paper Gods, #1)Title:Ink (Click title for Synopsis)
Source/Format: Won, Paperback
Age Range: YA
Publisher/Publication Date: Harlequin Teen

My Thoughts:

     Oh it may have taken me some time to get this review up, but here it is.  Set against the intoxicatingly unique backdrop of Japan, Ink by Amanda Sun is easily one of my favorite books of the year.  The mythology, the plot, the characters—I liked basically everything about this book!  Sun did an incredible job of capturing the Japanese culture at its best. 

      Ink is Katie Greene’s story as she struggled to adjust to her life in Japan after the untimely death of her mother.  Some of the insecurities described throughout the book were spot-on, and very believable considering the situation.  I liked seeing Katie grow over time as she became more accustomed to her life in Japan.  Tomohiro was definitely one of the more complex characters in Ink.  On one hand he would do something so coldhearted that you wondered if he really was a bad guy, but on another hand he would do something so sweet that he made you want to like him.  Tomohiro was a character who was loyal, and thought about what was best for others before what was best for him.  Katie’s friends, Yuki and Tanaka, were also nice additions to the story.

      The plot moved along at an even pace, with major plot-points placed in key spots in the book.  It was a setup that I liked since it kept me reading until two in the morning just so I could finish it.  Another aspect about Ink that I really enjoyed was how it pointed out the everyday struggles of someone who was trying to assimilate into a foreign society—with the language barriers, as well as the traditions. Considering how much I liked Ink, I can’t wait for book two to come out. {Actual rating is 4.5}  

Monday, April 8, 2013

Review: The Collector by Victoria Scott

The Collector (Dante Walker, #1)Title: The Collector (Click on title for Synopsis)
Source/Format: Purchased, Paperback
Age Range: YA
Publisher/ Publication Date: Entangled Teen, April 2, 2013

My Thoughts:

     From the second I saw the synopsis I’ve wanted to read The Collector, and then I finally got my copy.  I breezed through it in a few short hours, and wow, I have to say that I’m pretty impressed.  Scott did a remarkable job on putting a spin on the whole Soul Collector thing, making it almost entirely new.  The writing was entertaining with witty dialogue and snarky comments dropped into places you wouldn’t expect them to be.

     Most books I read aren’t portrayed from the viewpoint of the guy, and I have to say that I found it kind of refreshing.  Dante was exactly how the synopsis portrayed him to be: bad, and uncaring.  Still, there’s more to him than I originally thought there’d be.  Then there was Charlie, she was Dante’s polar opposite.  And it was entertaining to see Dante grow as he got to know her.  Also, there was romance but it wasn’t overbearing.   

     The plot started out running, and kept going until the very end.  There were some very minor things that I had an issue with, but overall it was a good book.  Oh, the ending, don’t even get me started.  I love it when the ending of a book surprises me with facts I didn’t even realize were there.  That’s exactly what the Collector did.  The ending also left a lot of things unfinished.  Needless to say, I have some questions that haven’t been answered.  Still, it left me wanting more and luckily the publication date for The Liberator isn’t too far away. 

I really like it.  I recommend it.
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