Monday, February 27, 2017

Shaken by Susan Hatler. Brace yourselves for high levels of frustration

Book Synopsis

Shaken by Susan Hatler, book, Mind Reader series, ypung adult, paranormalHigh school junior, Kylie Bates, can suddenly read minds. When she touches people’s hands, she’s able to see their deepest thoughts. As if that’s not freaky enough, her dad sends her to help hottie detective, Sam Williams, track down a missing girl. Way too much pressure, especially for a girl who can’t watch Scream without getting nightmares.
Then, finding the missing girl leads to much more than Kylie’s prepared for. Like discovering that her dad has been lying to her. That she has a family she never knew about. That the girls have powers similar to hers. Oh yeah, and that someone is out to get her.
When the detective’s teenage wanna-be-cop cousin, Trip Williams, approaches Kylie at school insisting she help him solve the case, she discovers Trip might be the only one she can trust, and the only one to help her unravel the secrets behind her mysterious gift. Shaken

My Opinion

1.95/5 stars.
It pains me to give a bad review to a book from an author I previously enjoy reading. I read one of the author's love stories, A Christmas Kiss. Then, I was convinced that I will read more from Susan Hatler. And surprisingly, I did. (Yeah, when I picked this book up, it took me a while to put two plus two together and realize that the author is one and the same Susan Hatler.)
I am separating the review in two main parts the good and the bad.
The overall idea behind the book sounded promising.
Interesting power/paranormal system.
Police investigation.
"I am your [Darth Vader] father," theme.
Black Arrow pointing leftDarth Vader meme
A lost family.
A strong main teenager male character.
A strong secondary teenager/young adult female character.
A clueless supposedly strong and smart main teenager female character.
Secrets upon secrets.
Teenagers' life problems.
A mind reader and other peoples with powers.
Family birth mark.
Great steamy parts.
Shrink dad.
Though thugs.
High school.
Let's not forget about a pretty good author.
So yeah... These were great ingredients suggesting a good story recipe.
"What went wrong," you ask. Well... The story is told from the main character's first person point of view.  AAAAnd, let me tell you, I had this strong urge to talk some sense into her.

Well... I will try to keep my salty side in check as a respect for the author and her hard work. My intention is not to insult people, just to critique one's work.
The main character lacked the proper development. She was the TV-cliché-American-dream teenager. In the beginning, I was, "Alright, her naïveté is understandable since she just discovered a whole new world." I was unable to connect with somebody like her. Everything about her felt forced. She was portrayed as smart and strong and with a desire to be normal; although, the end result was disappointing. The word "shallow" popped in my head more than once while reading the book.
Why? I prepared a list because it is blunt, precise, and without confusion:
  • female teenage cares more about what people think about her more than situation at hand; 
  • obsesses with boys even though she tries to show the reader otherwise;
  • and seriously the insta-love felt too... instant;
  • lack of angst and sparks;
  • the main character figures and masters her power rather quickly but fails to see the obvious things;
  • main character is portrayed as smart, because she does not lose the opportunity to remind the reader this fact every single time (I do not care you have a 4.0 GPA. Show me that through your actions and thought process. Shout out to Drew - secondary female character - who finally pointed this fact out. I love you girl. I wish the book was told from your point of view);
  • (this piece is not about the main character) the supposed father calls his daughter a lair even though he knew that there is a high - to the roof - chance that his daughter may have powers because... genetics;
  • (also about the dad) the father is rather irrational in protecting the paranormal gifted daughter from everything considering that it is easy to have a normal life again (Dude, that ain't gonna happen!);
  • (again, not about the main character) I got the feeling that the adults were seen as the enemies of teenagers than complex people who can be also allies. 
Like I said, the right ingredients for the wrong recipe. At least for my taste. The intriguing elements and my curiosity in the unanswered questions were not enough for this book to receive a high rating. Believe it or not, I am - still - kind of curious to know what happens next.
The writing was good with the story flowing rather nicely most of the time. I believe it would have worked better if the story had been told from the third person.

Overall, this book was not my cuppa tea.

winking face emoji
This is my sole opinion. ^_^
Feel free to check out my review on Susan Hatler's A Christmas Kiss.
I would like to say thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal, Urban Fantasy, Romance
Language: mild
Sexual content: moderate
Violence: moderate
Drugs/Alcohol: mild


Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Very Good Lives - A graduation speech by J. K. Rowling

Very Good Lives: The Fringe Benefits of Failure and the Importance of Imagination
In 2008, J.K. Rowling delivered a deeply affecting commencement speech at Harvard University. Now published for the first time in book form, Very Good Lives offers J.K. Rowling’s words of wisdom for anyone at a turning point in life, asking the profound and provocative questions: How can we embrace failure? And how can we use our imagination to better both ourselves and others?
Drawing from stories of her own post-graduate years, the world-famous author addresses some of life’s most important issues with acuity and emotional force. Very Good Lives

My opinion

5/5 stars
I just graduated and I do not remember the words my speaker used in his speech. All I can remember is that he took off his fancy-graduation-ceremonial cap and put on a real cap. Oh, and after that he said some funny stuff, some inspirational things, and some famous quotes. Was it long? Yes. Did it get my attention? Yes, at least 89.999% of it. Did I laugh? Yes.
Basically, J. K. Rowling was right. Graduation speeches are easy to forget. But I got the gist of it: Caps and gowns are expensive and we do not know why we call them caps and gowns because they do not actually look like real caps and gowns.
Let me show you some pictures:
Cap (the real meaning if you Google it) vs. Cap?
Graduation Cap, BlackCap, eed cap, sport cap,

Gown (the real meaning if you Google it) vs. Gown?

Red Gown, Ball Gown, Gown, dressGraduation Gown, black
I know, right? Mind blowing!
Mind Blown memes with Jackie Chan
OK! Enough about my graduation speech! Let's continue talking about J. K.'s speech. (And I am not talking about "just kidding's speech". That is a totally different story or acronym.) This piece of writing was truly inspiring and it deserves to be read. Why you ask? Well, J. K. Rowling put her life on a silver plate and served it to us as an inspirational speech. If you read this, you get to know the woman behind the books as a real person and not just a picture and brief bio on a book cover.
I am not going to lie, I was not sure what to expect from this book. Now, I am glad I did not have any expectations. I received a valuable lesson about life and I got inspired.
Are you in a desperate need for a piece of reality? Do you want something to motivate you in life? And, do you want a quick read?
Well then... Very Good Lives is the answer to all of your questions.
This is my sole opinion. ^_^
Also, feel free to check out my review on Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.

Genre: Nonfiction, Speech
Language: none
Sexual content: none
Violence: none
Drugs/Alcohol: none

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

La Belle et la Bête or, how the English are calling it, Beauty and the Beast

Beauty and the Beast, La Belle et la Bête movie

Hello-Hello! Today I am bringing you another foreign movie. It is called - hence the title of this post - La belle et la bête or Beauty and the Beast. I know that a lot of you are excited - myself included - for the upcoming Disney live action adaptation musical of Beauty and the Beast to hit theaters on March 17, 2017.
So, I thought it will be a great idea to talk about the French adaptation from 2014 since March is almost here and February is also the month of love in lots of cultures.
Yes, you "heard"/read me right! It is a French movie. And yes, the whole cast is talking in French, despite Vincent Cassel playing the beast.
Some of you will say, "Duh! He is a French actor. What is your point?" Well, my point is that until 2014, when I saw this movie on a plane, I did not know that! Shocking. I know. Thus, I am assuming that other people know him more for his English movies like Black Swan and Jason Bourne.
 Anyway, back to the French La Belle et la Bête! 
Let me tell you this: This movie is freaking amazing!
I've watched it two or three times already. Ignore the cheesy poster because I couldn't find a better one to depict how epic this movie is.
Did I forget to mention the Beast's cape?

Beauty and the Beast, La Belle et la Bête, movie concept art 

First, let's talk about the visuals!
This film deserves to be watched for the special effects only. They are that incredible. I mean, just look of a couple of concept arts I put throughout this post!
The fairytale atmosphere was successfully created. As a viewer I was mesmerized of how real everything felt. Vibrant colors. Breath taking images. I loved that there was no overuse of the dark filter (excuse the lack of  better technical terms) to depict the era of the story or the darker themes. Everything feels and seems real.

Beauty and the Beast, La Belle et la Bête, movie concept art

The storyline. Well... You know the basics -ish! It is more based on the real Beauty and the Beast than the Disney version. Of course, there are lots of twists.
Belle is from a big family. She has two brothers, two sisters, and a father. Her father is a merchant who loses everything and the family is forced to move in the country side.
Go, watch it!
I do not feel like spoiling you so I am going to say the minimum minimorum.
We have a more mature love story and not the cute-roses-and-doves type going on. I was able to sense the sexual tension between the protagonists.
Also, we get to see in detail why the prince became the beast in the first place.
So, what are you waiting for, beside finishing to read this post?
Go watch it!

Beauty and the Beast, La Belle et la Bête, movie concept art

Another contributing factor to this epic retelling was the acting. The actors were able to make the story flow and feel real. Nothing felt forced. I was able to connect and feel.
The feels! Let me tell you: The Beast has the most intense facial expressions I have ever seen!
I know. I know. I am using too many exclamation points because I am that exited to talk about this movie. :D

Beauty and the Beast, La Belle et la Bête, movie concept art

The music is the secret ingredient to complete the fairytale atmosphere.
What can I say? I love instrumental music especially movie scores. Consider my opinion biased about this topic. ;)

Beauty and the Beast, La Belle et la Bête, movie concept art

Just think of it! How cool is it to have the "story as old as time" (quote from Disney's Beauty and the Beast) told in its original language?
It is romantic.
It is sexy.
It is the language of love.

Beauty and the Beast, La Belle et la Bête, movie concept art

The movie has its flaws and some small plot holes.
Nothing is perfect!
Do not let small details to obscure the overall story.
Beauty and the Beast, La Belle et la Bête, movie concept art
More concept art

Beauty and the Beast, La Belle et la Bête, movie concept art
More concept art
I hope you enjoyed this post.
And I hope I was able to convinced you to watch the movie.
Be Happy!
Be Loved!
And offer love!
Movie Trailer

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Royally Roma an enchanting retelling of the classic Audrey Hepburn film Roman Holiday

The Royals #1 by Teri Wilson

Publication Date: 27 March 2017

Book synopsis

Royally Roma, The Royals 1 by Teri Wilson, Romance, Adult, Contemporary, Roman Holiday movie retelling, Audrey HepburnIn this charming, modern retelling of the classic Audrey Hepburn film Roman Holiday, a royal prince tries to escape his hectic and rigid life and ends up leading a young graduate student on a chase through the Eternal City. Julia Costa is too busy trying to complete her PhD while also holding down a full-time job as a private tour guide in Rome to keep up with celebrity gossip. So when she crosses paths with a real, actual prince, she mistakes him for a client and takes him on a daylong tour of the city. Intrigued by the idea of spending time with someone who obviously has no idea who he is, and delighted at the prospect of a day free of royal obligations, Niccolo La Torre, Crown Prince of Lazaretto, acts on impulse and assumes the role of Julia’s client. He swears to himself that he’ll return to his royal duties after only half a day…but he’s having the time of his life. Until Julia presents him with the bill. Since he snuck out of the hotel without so much as a dime, he tries to escape, only to discover that she won’t let him out of her sight until he can pay her back. She’s determined to get her money…and perhaps more from the handsome stranger she’s fallen for.  Royally Roma

My opinion

4.5/5 stars.
This book was sweet, romantic, and intense. The love felt genuine and real despite being insta-love. Niccolo and Julia were complex characters with complicated pasts. They meet by chance and everything goes down from there.
Being a retelling of the classic black and white film Roman Holiday was one of things which attracted me to this book. And this says something because my number one black and white movie is Roman Holiday followed by Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.
The story has its flaws. Some might find the writing repetitive and overwhelming in the beginning (especially in the description category). Despite the cliché and the flaws, it made me feel things. I was able to connect with the characters. I felt sad. I felt mushy. I felt joy and sorrow. And this is the most important thing when it comes to a book. Books must have the ability to make you root for the characters and feel what they feel.
Rome. That setting! It was a perfect ambiance for the romantic story to bloom. Rome was well written in the book, full of magic and history. An Eternal City indeed.
I was in the mood for this romance. And because it moved me, I felt like giving it a high rating. But! There is always a but. I made a short list of the main things that bothered me.
Bothering things (if you read the book you will understand): lack of GPS tracking; portraying the female in some instances based on the ancient Greek misconception (lack of self-restraint); same can be said about the male character who is portrayed as in control, honorable and in charge of the polis (thank goodness he was not also the stereotypical bad-boy).
[Yes, I had to throw some historical facts. The action is happening in Rome for goodness sake! Ha-ha-ha =))!]
Do you love super sweet, charged, and cheesy romance? Then, this is your cup of tea. Or should I say cup of espresso? ;)
This is my sole opinion. ^_^
I would like to say thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Genre: Romance, Contemporary, Adult, Cultural
Language: none to mild
Sexual content: heavy
Violence: none to moderate
Drugs/Alcohol: mild

Friday, February 3, 2017

The Alchemist of Loom Perustopia Book for February

Elise Kova

Hey-Hey-Hey! This is the book pick of the month for another book club.
Hint-Hint: Perustopia.
The February's book pick is...
The Alchemist of Loom
by Elise Kova
Her vengeance. His vision.
Ari lost everything she once loved when the Five Guilds’ resistance fell to the Dragon King. Now, she uses her unparalleled gift for clockwork machinery in tandem with notoriously unscrupulous morals to contribute to a thriving underground organ market. There isn’t a place on Loom that is secure from the engineer turned thief, and her magical talents are sold to the highest bidder as long as the job defies their Dragon oppressors.
Cvareh would do anything to see his sister usurp the Dragon King and sit on the throne. His family’s house has endured the shame of being the lowest rung in the Dragons’ society for far too long. The Alchemist Guild, down on Loom, may just hold the key to putting his kin in power, if Cvareh can get to them before the Dragon King’s assassins.
When Ari stumbles upon a wounded Cvareh, she sees an opportunity to slaughter an enemy and make a profit off his corpse. But the Dragon sees an opportunity to navigate Loom with the best person to get him where he wants to go.
He offers her the one thing Ari can’t refuse: A wish of her greatest desire, if she brings him to the Alchemists of Loom. The Alchemist of Loom
Is this book you cup of tea?
Then, don't hesitate and join the club if you are not already part of it!
This is the link is the club's Goodreads page --> Perustopia
Also, don't forget to check out the creators' YouTube channels:
Sasha from  abookutopia 
 Regan from PeruseProject
You can find the January book pick here --> Ever the Hunted

The Edge of Everything Booksplosion Book of February

By Jeff Giles

Hello-Hello! It's February! Thus, it is time for the book of the month.
Of course, you kind of figure out which book was chosen based on the title of this post.
Without further ado, I present you...
The Edge of Everything
By Jeff Giles 
The Edge of Everything by Jeff Giles, book, fantasy, young adult
It's been a shattering year for seventeen-year-old Zoe, who's still reeling from her father's shockingly sudden death in a caving accident and her neighbors' mysterious disappearance from their own home. Then on a terrifying sub-zero, blizzardy night in Montana, she and her brother are brutally attacked in a cabin in the woods--only to be rescued by a mysterious bounty hunter they call X.
X is no ordinary bounty hunter. He is from a hell called the Lowlands, sent to claim the soul of Zoe's evil attacker and others like him. Forbidden to reveal himself to anyone other than his victims, X casts aside the Lowlands' rules for Zoe. As X and Zoe learn more about their different worlds, they begin to question the past, their fate, and their future. But escaping the Lowlands and the ties that bind X might mean the ultimate sacrifice for both of them.
 The Edge of Everything  
If this book seems appealing to you join the club, if you are not already part of it.
 Or, just read it for your own pleasure.
This is the link to the Goodreads club page --->  Booksplosion 
(Ups! I forgot to put it last month.)
And, do not forget to check out the creators' YouTube channels:
Christine from polandbananasBooks
Jesse from jessethereader
Kat from Katytastic

The January's book of the month was Wayfarer, book two in the Passenger duology. 

Siren's Fury by Mary Weber Book Review

This Post May Contain Spoilers

The Storm Siren Trilogy #2

Book Synopsis

Siren's Fury by Mary Weber Book Review, book 2, fantasy, romance, magicI thrust my hand toward the sky as my voice begs the Elemental inside me to waken and rise. But it’s no use. The curse I’ve spent my entire life abhorring—the thing I trained so hard to control—no longer exists.
Nym risked her life to save Faelen, her homeland, from a losing war, only to discover that the shapeshifter Draewulf has stolen everything she holds dear. But when the repulsive monster robs Nym of her storm-summoning abilities as well, the beautiful Elemental realizes her war is only just beginning. Now powerless to control the elements that once emboldened her, Nym stows away on an airship traveling to the metallic kingdom of Bron. She must stop Draewulf. But the horrors he’s brought to life and the secrets of Bron are more than Nym bargained for. Then the disturbing Lord Myles tempts her with new powers that could destroy the monster, and Nym must decide whether she can compromise in the name of good even if it costs her very soul. As she navigates the stark industrial cityscape of Bron, Nym is faced with an impossible choice: change the future with one slice of a blade…or sacrifice the entire kingdom for the one thing her heart just can’t let go. Siren's Fury

My Opinion

3/5 stars.
Well, well, well... This book is on the slow side. It has that book two syndrome. It hurts to say it but it's the truth. It took more or less than 10 chapters for the story to pick up. After that, oh boy... It was intense. (Sincerely, I listened the first couple of hours of the book in a couple of weeks.)
More background information is revealed. I loved that. Although, I wished it was more. Nym's new powers were interesting but not fully explained. Since the subject of Nym's power came up, I was confused at that scene towards the end when the magic was all over the place. It involved Myles, Nym and Draewulf. I am blaming the audiobook for that :)).
Some characters needed more development. I do not know how to say this without making a comparison. It was like going to a super expensive restaurant with delicious food. The problem is the portions are so small that you do not get enough. It is like a torturous tease for your taste buds and you crave for more. And the sad part is you do not have money to get more food. Sad, I know. So, I am blaming the length of the book or the length of the slow unnecessary-ish chapters.
The climax and the end were explosive. Overall, the book was ok and it made me want to finish the trilogy. Let's put it this way: The villain(s) is (are) worth it!
I am going to continue the series. The author has a great talent in creating complex characters - not fully good or evil, rather a mixture of both.
This is my sole opinion. ^_^
You can also check out my review on book one, Storm Siren.
Genre: YA, Fiction, Fantasy, Romance
Language: mild
Sexual content: mild
Violence: moderate to heavy
Drugs/Alcohol: mild

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Awake by Susan Beneville, Brian Hess (Illustrator) - Comic Volume 2

This post may contain spoilers

Awake by Susan Beneville, Brian Hess (Illustrator), Comic

Comic Book Synopsis

Awake by Susan Beneville, Brian Hess (Illustrator), Comic, Volume 2, issue #5-8, fantasy
Having successfully completed her first mission to wake up and heal the planet Gremon, Chkarta Dola Regn should be celebrating. Instead she is fleeing from the brutal and greedy Baron Korup. Meanwhile, her brother Picar and her mentor Operi attempt to rescue their friend Chay from the clutches of the duplicitous Gen and the conniving Gurk. This all-ages trade paperback collects Regn and Picar’s further adventures on Gremon in AWAKE #5-8. Awake Vol 2

My Opinion

4.65/5 stars
The epic story continues. The planet is yet again in danger. Our main character are struggling to survive and escape the Baron.
The art is once again great and I can say the same thing about the dialogue.
Finally, we get more in formation about the Dolla. And, more important, we get the background story which caused all the trouble on Gremon. (It felt a little short but it was alright).
If you liked the first volume, you should definitely check out volume 2.
This is my sole opinion. ^_^
I would like to say thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Also, feel free to check out my review for Awake Vol 1
Genre: Children Fiction, Fantasy, Magic, Middle grade, Sequential Art
Language: none to mild
Sexual content: none to mild (flirting)
Violence: moderate
Drugs/Alcohol: none to mild