Wednesday, September 17, 2014

FALL TV: NEW SHOWS PART 1

One of the great things about Fall is that my favorite TV shows begin again along with some potential new favorites. Though E doesn’t always understand the DVR when we have a perfectly good Netflix, I happen to enjoy being caught up and spoiler free on some of my favorites. Here are some of the new potentials for me and dates for some of my returning favorites.

NEW SHOWS  

Forever (ABC – Sept 23)
The Skinny: Doctor Henry Morgan (Ioan Gruffudd), New York City's star medical examiner, has a secret. He doesn't just study the dead to solve criminal cases, he does it to solve the mystery that has eluded him for 200 years—the answer to his own inexplicable immortality. This long life has given Henry remarkable observation skills which impresses his new partner Detective Jo Martinez (Alana De La Garza). Each week, a new case and their budding friendship will reveal layers of Henry's long and colorful past. Only his best friend and confidant, Abe (Judd Hirsch) knows Henry's secret. Sounds a lot like New Amsterdam I know (which I liked by the way), but I love Ioan (He’s in one of my favorite films Solomon and Gaenor) and I want him do things…on tv, film…I’m not picky.

Gracepoint (FOX - Oct 2)
The Skinny: The inevitable American remake of another Brit show (Broadchurch overseas and I loved it earlier this year), but still starring one of my crushes (David Tennant) so you know I will watch. This 10-part mystery series features Detective Emmett Carver (Tennant), who must figure out who killed a young boy in a sleepy seaside California town.

A to Z (NBC – Oct 2)
The Skinny: "A to Z" tells the story of Andrew (Ben Feldman, "Mad Men," "The Mindy Project") and Zelda (Cristin Milioti, "The Wolf of Wall Street," "How I Met Your Mother") - a pair that almost wasn't - and all that happened from the day they met. Andrew and Zelda will date for eight months, three weeks, five days and one hour. This program is a comprehensive account of their relationship - from "A to Z." It’s a tv version of 500 Days of Summer because this is not about them living happily ever after. Worth a shot. Plus I need more comedies to watch.

Constantine (NBC – Oct 21)
The Skinny: I love Hellblazer and I love me some John Constantine. Based on the comic of the same name it follows Constantine (Matt Ryan) whose soul is damned to hell. He fights to protect innocent people by using his knowledge of the supernatural to send evil back where it belongs. He’s blonde and a brit so that is a step in the right direction. Probably the show I am looking forward to the most so please don’t suck.

State of Affairs (NBC – Nov 17)
The Skinny: Each day the president is faced with dozens of life-and-death decisions, and to prioritize the biggest international crises facing the country, one top CIA analyst - Charleston Tucker (Katherine Heigl, ) - assembles the President's Daily Briefing (PDB). Aside from the political minefields she has to walk, Charlie has a close personal relationship with President Constance Payton (Alfre Woodard) because she was once engaged to her son before a tragic terrorist attack took his life. Charlie survived that attack and is now determined to bring the perpetrators to justice while still protecting the country.

The Flash (CW – Oct 7)
The Skinny: Barry Allen (Grant Gustin) was eleven when his mother was killed and his father was falsely convicted of the murder. Raised by a detective, Barry is now a brilliant CSI investigator. Barry's latest obsession is a particle accelerator, but at the unveiling something goes wrong and Barry wakes up after nine months in a coma to find that he has super speed. If I am going to be a DC gal then the CW is where I will be with Arrow and now the Flash. Sorry Gotham.

So, where is Gotham you ask. Sorry folks I am so not excited for the series. I have tried. Really I have tried. I am going to let Finn watch this one and if it is so awesome that she begs me to watch it then maybe I will give it a try.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

The Art of How To Train Your Dragon 2: A Review

The Art of How To Train Your Dragon 2
Written by: Linda Sunshine
Paperback: 160 pages
Publisher: New Market Press
Language: English
May 2014
Genre: Non Fiction/Art

Here is a look behind the frozen fjords and ice caves of Berk at the making of the sequel to a beloved animated classic. This full-color, lavishly illustrated book features more than 650 paintings, drawings, sketches, models, film stills, lighting studies, color keys, story boards, and photographs. Along with quotes from all the principal filmmakers there is also an introduction by the writer/director Dean DeBlois and a foreword by Gerard Butler, the voice of Stoick.

In this brilliantly conceived sequel, we are on a journey of exploration to new lands, four-winged dragons, long-lost love, vicious and powerful enemies, and ginormous Bewilderbeasts.

How does a movie of such imagination and magnitude come into creation? Well, you begin with an incredibly talented team of artists, writers, engineers, animators, modelers, and tech wizards and you let their creativity soar. The result is a stunning, original vision—bigger, better, and fiercer than ever—of an earth-shattering, fire-breathing sequel to the legendary story of Vikings and dragons in the frozen north.


+++++++++++++

I love art books, especially art books for films that I absolutely love (my favorite is the one from Mirrormask). I loved the original How to Train Your Dragon and the sequel looked equally amazing. Hiccup and his friends from Berk are five years older. Berk has become a dragon rider haven and the new character, city, and dragon designs reflect that. It’s a beautiful little film. So of course I was excited to get this copy of the Art book to review by Linda Sunshine.

Based on the books by Cressida Cowell, How to Train Your Dragon is chock full of dragons and their riders. They are absolutely beautiful and the drawings of main character designer Nicolas Marlet reflect that. Of course Artist Zhaoping Wei provides the more finished look to the characters.

Now I love Art of Books because I love being able to thoroughly look and drool over things I may have only seen on screen for just a short time but took so much time and imagination. Now I get to take my own time and peruse to my heart’s content. Animation in particular has so many talented people working on everything from landscapes to lighting to costumes.

The book is divided into sections with quotes from those involved with the film. There are details about Hiccup’s gadgets, a very in-depth look at some of the costumes (hello Cosplayers out there), the different dragon designs, the environment and the props. I loved reading about Berk with all of the new additions that it make it as happy for the dragons of Berk as it does the Vikings.

Things I loved: You know I love the dragons of course and I cannot help it if Toothless is my favorite. Just look at him. He is adorable. There are some great new designs this time around. Some massive, some wee and cute. There are elemental dragons and ones with very distinct personalities. I will say that there is less about the dragons you met from the first film and just a smidge on Toothless compared to the new dragon designs. I am okay with this as the new beasties are impressive. There is also some insight on how they created such a variety of dragons.

This book also uses DreamWorks Animation AR which is a free app that allows you to point your phone at certain pages that will either play a clip from the film or the storyboards. There are only a few instances of this feature and a cute little feature I suppose (I just wish there had been more).

Things I didn’t love so much: There weren’t a lot of downsides to this book. Sure the font could always be bigger or I could get more art of my favorite scenes and characters, but that is just nitpicking. I was happy to receive it, loved the film, and will look quite nicely with the other art books I have. That’s about it.

Buy or Borrow: Buy. A great addition if you loved the film. Not only does it give an amazing behind the scenes look at how the film was brought to life and all of the hard work and effort that went into its creation, but it’s just gorgeous to look at.

Part of: Stand alone

Also Recommended: Some of my favorite movie art books that I would recommend are Mirrormask: The Illustrated Script by Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean, Moulin Rouge Art Book by Baz Luhrmann, and the Serenity Visual Companion by Joss Whedon.

3.75 out of 4 happy bibliosnark bookmarks 

Saturday, September 13, 2014

GAMER GIRL WEEKEND: READ PLAY BLOG#2

I recently discovered a lovely little blog meme from Happy Indulgence Books which is all about gaming. Right up my alley right? It helps that both are fellow book bloggers. Whoo hoo. So I am a little late to the party and that is what I get for just finding out about it. Every month there's a new gaming-related question to answer, you also share a recommendation, and what game you're currently playing. Allons-y!

What's your favorite gaming genre? 

I play a little bit of everything. If you asked me this same question a couple of years ago I would have said strictly RPGS, hack and slash and point and click were my favorite. I was a PS3 fan though I still had an original Xbox. And then I met E. Now I love shooters like Call of Duty. My heart will always belong to games like Mass Effect that blend my old favorite RPG with a shooter. But I am willing to try everything. Only recently did I become attached to the addiction of Minecrack…seriously Minecraft has taken over my life. Well at least it did until Destiny showed up last week. I really can’t choose just one genre as I find merits in many.

My Recommendation – Chime

"Single player game seeks significant gamer for musical puzzle fun. Me: unique, compelling, creative and demanding. You: quick-witted and open-minded with sharp reactions and a deep love of music. Let’s get together and play something beautiful. Featuring music by Moby, Paul Hartnoll (Orbital), Philip Glass, Fred Deakin (Lemon Jelly) and Markus Schulz. No less than 60% of the purchase price of Chime will go to charity."

This and Flower are two of my oh holy hell I am stressed out and need to relax stat sort of games and the reason I may have chosen it this month is because I may be feeling that way (sometimes working at a University can make you a little grr arghy is all that I am saying). Chime is kind of like Tetris, but with music. Personally I like the PS3 version a little bit better, but I still play it a ton on the Xbox. I like to beat my scores…continually and for some reason I find it incredibly relaxing. Because let’s face it, sometimes shooters just amp me up more instead of instilling the zen. Plus charity. Whoo hoo.

Currently Playing

I have been waiting for Destiny so I haven’t been playing anything too much recently unless you count the above mentioned Chime, Minecraft, and the occasional continuation of The Last of Us. For September I have vowed to finish one of my 80% games (I know you understand this problem). It’s the game you almost finished, but never quite made it because look squirrel. Tomb Raider, Sleeping Dogs, Heroes’ Crown, Contrast, and Lollipop Chainsaw are my casualties. And I want to fix that. Right after I finish playing the heck out of Destiny which may continue through this week.

Monday, September 8, 2014

SEPTEMBER: WATCH/READ/PLAY

Wow, its September already. Where did my summer go? Actually where did the year go? University is back in session and with it my job gets a little crazy. That is what you get when you add a population in the span of two weeks. But I don’t mind…okay only a little. It does mean that my days go by quicker.

I love September. I love the chill starting to creep into the air, new seasons of my favorite shows returning and new ones to check out. September means Autumn with jewel tones, changing leaves, and the return of everything pumpkin or spice. It means football games and tailgates, bonfires with smores, even more zucchini from the garden, and breaking out the hoodies and sweaters at night. Autumn and Spring are my favorite seasons as they are a bit balanced. I get the best of both hot and cold. Yea September. Here are my warm fuzzies expected to be out this month in gaming, movies, and books.

MOVIES
Honeymoon
Genre: Horror
Stars: Rose Leslie, Harry Treadaway, Ben Huber, Hanna Brown

In short: Young newlyweds struggle as their honeymoon spirals mysteriously into chaos. Nice buzz around it. (September 12)  

Hector and the Search for Happiness
Genre: Adventure | Comedy | Drama
Stars: Rosamund Pike, Simon Pegg, Stellan Skarsgård, Toni Collette

In short: A psychiatrist searches the globe to find the secret of happiness. (September 19)


The Maze Runner
Genre: Action | Mystery | Sci-Fi | Thriller
Stars: Dylan O'Brien, Will Poulter, Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Kaya Scodelario

In short: Thomas (Dylan O'Brien) is deposited in a community of boys after his memory is erased, soon learning they're all trapped in a maze that will require him to join forces with fellow "runners" for a shot at escape. Based on the YA Novel. (September 19)


The Box Trolls
Genre: Animation | Adventure | Comedy | Family | Fantasy
Stars: Ben Kingsley, Jared Harris, Nick Frost, Richard Ayoade

In short: A young orphaned boy raised by underground cave-dwelling trash collectors tries to save his friends from an evil exterminator. Based on the children's novel 'Here Be Monsters' by Alan Snow. (September 26)


The Equalizer
Genre: Action | Crime | Thriller | Drama
Stars: Denzel Washington, Marton Csokas, Chloë Grace Moretz, David Harbour

In short: A former black ops commando who faked his death for a quiet life in Boston comes out of his retirement to rescue a young girl and finds himself face to face with Russian gangsters. One of E’s picks. (September 26)

BOOKS
The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell (Sept 2)
In short: Following a scalding row with her mother, fifteen-year-old Holly Sykes slams the door on her old life. But Holly is no typical teenage runaway: a sensitive child once contacted by voices she knew only as “the radio people,” Holly is a lightning rod for psychic phenomena. Now, as she wanders deeper into the English countryside, visions and coincidences reorder her reality until they assume the aura of a nightmare brought to life. For Holly has caught the attention of a cabal of dangerous mystics—and their enemies. But her lost weekend is merely the prelude to a shocking disappearance that leaves her family irrevocably scarred. This unsolved mystery will echo through every decade of Holly’s life, affecting all the people Holly loves—even the ones who are not yet born. A Cambridge scholarship boy grooming himself for wealth and influence, a conflicted father who feels alive only while reporting from occupied Iraq, a middle-aged writer mourning his exile from the bestseller list—all have a part to play in this surreal, invisible war on the margins of our world. From the medieval Swiss Alps to the nineteenth-century Australian bush, from a hotel in Shanghai to a Manhattan townhouse in the near future, their stories come together in moments of everyday grace and extraordinary wonder.


 The Winter Long (October Daye #8) by Seanan McGuire (Sept 2)

In short: Toby thought she understood her own past; she thought she knew the score. She was wrong. It's time to learn the truth. Already in my hands people. Already in my hands.


Shifting Shadows: Stories from the World of Mercy Thompson by Patricia Briggs (Sept 2)
In short: Mercy Thompson’s world just got a whole lot bigger… A collection of all-new and previously published short stories featuring Mercy Thompson, “one of the best heroines in the urban fantasy genre today” (Fiction Vixen Book Reviews), and the characters she calls friends… Includes the new stories…“Silver” “Roses in Winter” “Redemption” “Hollow” …and reader favorites “Fairy Gifts” “Gray” “Alpha and Omega” “Seeing Eye” “The Star of David” “In Red, with Pearls”


Maplecroft (The Borden Dispatches #1) by Cherie Priest (Sept 2)
In short: Lizzie Borden took an axe and gave her mother forty whacks; and when she saw what she had done, she gave her father forty-one.... The people of Fall River, Massachusetts, fear me. Perhaps rightfully so. I remain a suspect in the brutal deaths of my father and his second wife despite the verdict of innocence at my trial. With our inheritance, my sister, Emma, and I have taken up residence in Maplecroft, a mansion near the sea and far from gossip and scrutiny. But it is not far enough from the affliction that possessed my parents. Their characters, their very souls, were consumed from within by something that left malevolent entities in their place. It originates from the ocean’s depths, plaguing the populace with tides of nightmares and madness. This evil cannot hide from me. No matter what guise it assumes, I will be waiting for it. With an axe.


Egg and Spoon by Gregory Maguire (Sept 9)
In short: A fantasy set in Tsarist Russia. Elena Rudina lives in the impoverished Russian countryside. Her father has been dead for years. One of her brothers has been conscripted into the Tsar’s army, the other taken as a servant in the house of the local landowner. Her mother is dying, slowly, in their tiny cabin. And there is no food. But then a train arrives in the village, a train carrying untold wealth, a cornucopia of food, and a noble family destined to visit the Tsar in Saint Petersburg — a family that includes Ekaterina, a girl of Elena’s age. When the two girls’ lives collide, an adventure is set in motion, an escapade that includes mistaken identity, a monk locked in a tower, a prince traveling incognito, and — in a starring role only Gregory Maguire could have conjured — Baba Yaga, witch of Russian folklore, in her ambulatory house perched on chicken legs.


The Iron Trial (Magisterium #1) by Holly Black & Cassandra Clare (Sept 9th)
In short: From NEW YORK TIMES bestselling authors Holly Black and Cassandra Clare comes a riveting new series that defies what you think you know about the world of magic. From two bestselling superstars, a dazzling and magical middle-grade collaboration centering on the students of the Magisterium, an academy for those with a propensity toward magic. In this first book, a new student comes to the Magisterium against his will -- is it because he is destined to be a powerful magician, or is the truth more twisted than that? It's a journey that will thrill you, surprise you, and make you wonder about the clear-cut distinction usually made between good and evil.


The Infinite Sea (The 5th Wave #2) by Rick Yancey (Sept 16th)
In short: How do you rid the Earth of seven billion humans? Rid the humans of their humanity. Surviving the first four waves was nearly impossible. Now Cassie Sullivan finds herself in a new world, a world in which the fundamental trust that binds us together is gone. As the 5th Wave rolls across the landscape, Cassie, Ben, and Ringer are forced to confront the Others’ ultimate goal: the extermination of the human race. Cassie and her friends haven’t seen the depths to which the Others will sink, nor have the Others seen the heights to which humanity will rise, in the ultimate battle between life and death, hope and despair, love and hate.


Made for You by Melissa Marr (Sept 16)
In short: Bestselling author of the Wicked Lovely books Melissa Marr’s first contemporary YA novel is a twisted southern gothic tale of obsession, romance, and murder. A killer is obsessed with Eva Tilling. Can she stop him, or will he claim her? When Eva Tilling wakes up in the hospital, she’s confused—who in her sleepy little North Carolina town could have hit her with their car? And why? But before she can consider the question, she finds that she’s awoken with a strange new skill: the ability to foresee people’s deaths when they touch her. While she is recovering from the hit-and-run, Nate, an old flame, reappears, and the two must traverse their rocky past as they figure out how to use Eva’s power to keep her friends—and themselves—alive. But while Eva and Nate grow closer, the killer grows increasingly frantic in his attempt to get to Eva.


An Age of License: A Travelogue by Lucy Knisley (Sept 22)
In short: Acclaimed cartoonist Lucy Knisley (French Milk, Relish) got an opportunity that most only dream of: a travel-expenses-paid trip to Europe/Scandinavia, thanks to a book tour. An Age of License is Knisley s comics travel memoir recounting her charming (and romantic!) adventures. It’s punctuated by whimsical visual devices (such as a new experiences funnel); peppered with the cute cats she meets along the way; and, of course, features her hallmark drawings and descriptions of food that will make your mouth water. But it’s not all kittens and raclette crepes: Knisley s experiences are colored by anxieties, introspective self-inquiries, and quotidian revelations about traveling alone in unfamiliar countries, and about her life and career that many young adults will relate to. An Age of License which takes its name from a French saying is an Eat, Pray, Love for the alternative comics fan.”


Soulminder by Timothy Zahn (Sept 23)
In short: In this new book by the author of "Blackcollar "and the #1 "New York Times"-bestselling "Heir to the Empire, "Timothy Zahn imagines a technology that could alter our perception of life and death foreverFor Dr. Adrian Sommers, a split second of driving while distracted leads to tragedy--and obsession. His family destroyed, he devotes his entire being to developing Soulminder, a technology that might have saved his son as he wavered on the edge of death. Sommers's vision is to capture a dying person's life essence and hold it safely in stasis while physicians heal the body from injury or disease. Years of experimentation finally end in success--but those who recognize Soulminder's possibilities almost immediately corrupt its original concept to pursue dangerous new frontiers: body-swapping, obstruction of justice, extortion, and perhaps even immortality.


Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld (Sept 23)
In short: Darcy Patel has put college and everything else on hold to publish her teen novel, Afterworlds. Arriving in New York with no apartment or friends she wonders whether she's made the right decision until she falls in with a crowd of other seasoned and fledgling writers who take her under their wings… Told in alternating chapters is Darcy's novel, a suspenseful thriller about Lizzie, a teen who slips into the 'Afterworld' to survive a terrorist attack. But the Afterworld is a place between the living and the dead and as Lizzie drifts between our world and that of the Afterworld, she discovers that many unsolved - and terrifying - stories need to be reconciled. And when a new threat resurfaces, Lizzie learns her special gifts may not be enough to protect those she loves and cares about most.


Rooms by Lauren Oliver (Sept 23)
In short: The New York Times bestselling author of Before I Fall and the Delirium trilogy makes her brilliant adult debut with this mesmerizing story in the tradition of The Lovely Bones, Her Fearful Symmetry, and The Ocean at the End of the Lane—a tale of family, ghosts, secrets, and mystery, in which the lives of the living and the dead intersect in shocking, surprising, and moving ways. Wealthy Richard Walker has just died, leaving behind his country house full of rooms packed with the detritus of a lifetime. His estranged family—bitter ex-wife Caroline, troubled teenage son Trenton, and unforgiving daughter Minna—have arrived for their inheritance. But the Walkers are not alone. Prim Alice and the cynical Sandra, long dead former residents bound to the house, linger within its claustrophobic walls. Jostling for space, memory, and supremacy, they observe the family, trading barbs and reminiscences about their past lives. Though their voices cannot be heard, Alice and Sandra speak through the house itself—in the hiss of the radiator, a creak in the stairs, the dimming of a light bulb. The living and dead are each haunted by painful truths that will soon surface with explosive force. When a new ghost appears, and Trenton begins to communicate with her, the spirit and human worlds collide—with cataclysmic results. Elegantly constructed and brilliantly paced, Rooms is an enticing and imaginative ghost story and a searing family drama that is as haunting as it is resonant.

GAMES

Dance Central Spotlight (Xbox One) - September 2
Don't Starve: Giant Edition (Vita) - September 2
Sims 4 (PC) - September 2
Destiny (Xbox One, PS4, 360, PS3) - September 9
Gauntlet (PC) - September 23
Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor (Xbox One, 360, PS4, PS3, PC) - September 30

Did I miss anything?

Monday, August 18, 2014

This Week on Netflix: Princess Jellyfish

I have decided that each week I am going to discuss the best of the shows or movies that E and I have started to watch on Netflix. Maybe you will decide to watch it too. Because let’s face it there are some great things on Netflix, but slogging through everything can be a bit difficult. Of course I will always take your considerations if you have them because I, too, am always looking for something new to watch.

This week I bring you Princess Jellyfish or Kuragehime.

Based on the manga of the same name Tsukimi Tsukimi is shy, awkward, and obsessed with jellyfish. She lives in an apartment with several other otaku women who are all nerdy about something in particular from trains to kimonos. As NEETs, the women avoid social interactions as much as possible and above all else: the stylish. But then a stylish woman helps Tsukimi save a jellyfish (later named Clara) from a petshop, except that ‘she’ turns out to be a guy (which is even scarier than a Stylish). The two form a friendship that surprises them both and turns the little ‘nunnery’ apartment building on its head.

It’s a great little anime though incredibly short (only 11 episodes). Tsukimi is awkward, full of anxiety and self-doubt, but extremely likable. As a nerd girl myself I believe I may have turned to stone once or twice when a member of the opposite sex spoke to me in my adolescent years. Tsukimi and the other lady geeks in the building are fiercely protective of the things that they like and admittedly do not like anyone bullying them about their geeky loves. I get it. While their characters may be a bit exaggerated, I still love each and every one of them. Kuranosuke is equally likable. He has always been around stylish ladies, but finds himself drawn to the quirky little inhabitants of the building, especially Tsukimi. He doesn’t understand it, but we do. There is something incredibly relatable about Tsukimi and quite endearing. They are destined to be together…it must be so. I love Kuranosuke, not because he has a fabulous sense of style or the reasons for his cross dressing, but how down to earth he is. He doesn’t understand the hang-ups that his brother or his new set of friends have, but he doesn’t care in the end.

But this anime is not about their romance. It’s a comedy. While the relationship between Kuranosuke and Tsukimi is the main focus of the show, the big subplot involves the potential sale of the building where the ladies live and their efforts to damn the man and save the empire…their empire. It’s about the family you make, about learning to love yourself including your nerdiness, and to never give up. It’s honest. It’s funny. And I want more episodes.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Snowpiercer: A Review

Snowpiercer (2014)
Directed By: Bong Joon-ho
Written By: Bong Joon-ho and Kelly Masterson
Genre:ACTION ADVENTURE/SCI FI
Rated: R
Time: 126 min
Starring: Chris Evans, Song Kangho, Tilda Swinton, Jamie Bell, Octavia Spencer, Ewen Brewmner, Alison Pill, John Hurt, Ed Harris
Plot: "Snowpiercer," based on the French graphic novel "Le Transperceneige," is set in a future where, after a failed experiment to stop global warming, an Ice Age kills off all life on the planet except for the inhabitants of the Snow Piercer, a train that travels around the globe and is powered by a sacred perpetual-motion engine. A class system evolves on the train but a revolution brews.

Comments: Joon-ho Bong has done some great films, The Host and Mother being two of them. Now most people haven’t heard about Snowpiercer or are lucky enough to have it show up in their local theater. I knew that US distributors wanted to cut 20 minutes from the film, but the director wouldn’t budge and good for him. Luckily the same time it is out in theaters, it is also available through our XboxOne.

Based on the French graphic novel Le Transperceneige, created by Jacques Lob, Benjamin Legrand, and Jean-Marc Rochette, Snowpiercer shows a bleak future. Its 2031 and humans have officially destroyed the planet resulting in a bleak and frozen wasteland. The survivors live on a transcontinental train constantly circling the ruined world thanks to the ingenuity of an eccentric industrialist named Wilford. 17 years after the disaster the train may be a key to humanity’s survival but it is not so great for those who live in the tail section. These were the survivors who didn’t pay the exorbitant fees to live in the front sections. They are the have-nots, surviving any which way they can in their dirty, overcrowded quarters. There are no windows, only protein bars for food, and very little hope. That changes when Curtis (Chris Evans) has decided that enough is enough. Take the engine…control the train, control the world.

Along with his friend Edgar (Jamie Bell), and mentor Gilliam (John Hurt) they hatch a plan to rise up against the upper class. But it is easier said than done. Revolts have failed before. It is only after a brutal reminder of their place in this new world and the stealing of two Tail Section children, that they act. But Wilford has his own army ruled by his Prime Minister Mason (Tilda Swinton, who steals every scene she is in) and they are prepared to issue even more cruel brutality. In order for the plan to work, they need to find security expert Namgoong Minsoo (Kang-ho Song) and try to survive their way to the front.

The two things that stand out the most for me were the set designs and Tilda Swinton. Let’s talk about Tilda. I love her to pieces and Orlando continues to be one of my favorite films. As Mason with her horrid fake teeth, expensive furs and decadent splashes of color amidst the tale section’s bleakness she cannot help but stand out. ‘Be a shoe, not a hat’. The other performances are great as well and I continue to believe that Chris Evans is a decent actor as he matures (Sunshine is when I first said hmmm, so much better than Johnny Storm). I guess one of the things that I like about the characters are that there are no black and whites when it comes to morality. Curtis has done some pretty horrible things, but he’s our hero right? Same goes with Gilliam? I love that.

The other thing that really stands out is the sheer beauty of the visuals. As the journey to the front of the train continues we go from bleak grays, browns, and blacks to more and more color. Each train car is unique from the confines of the back to a greenhouse where little old ladies go to knit and have their tea. We have a sushi bar complete with aquarium, a meat freezer, a spa with individual saunas, a pool car, a restaurant or two, a beauty salon, a nightclub with adjacent drug room, and a school (probably one of the craziest and coolest scenes in the film). Seriously I love the train itself.

It’s a great film about social stratification something many of us are all too aware of. It’s a classic battle between the rich and the poor, a theme that has been explored before. But the film is also about, a very socialist idea, that the poor need to exist so that the wealthy have value. Wilford firmly believes that his little world has balance and in order to continue that balance there has to be the haves and have-nots. It’s a crazy little world though where the Tail Sectioners are little more than pawns. They do not do any manual labor in the tail section, they merely exist in their poverty. That is their purpose.

There are some things I didn’t like about the film of course. I hated the ending. In fact I would have liked the film so much more if I hadn’t watched the last 5 minutes as all suspension of disbelief went right out the window. It almost ruined it, but not quite.

Rent/Cinema? Cinema (If you can). While I hated the ending, I did spend the other 2 hours really enjoying the film. It’s beautiful, heartbreaking, absurd, crazy, and thrilling. Completely worth watching.

4/4 popcorns

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Savage Nature: A Review

Savage Nature
Written by: Christine Feehan
Paperback: 379 pages
Publisher: Piatkus Books
Language: English
May 2011
Genre: Romance

When Saria Boudreaux finds a dead body in the Louisiana bayou near her home, her first instinct is to go to the police. But there's a problem: it looks like the victim may have been killed by a big cat - and her brothers are all shape-shifting leopards. Sent by the land's owner to investigate, leopard-shifter Drake Donovan is ready for anything - except the insatiable hunger that rocks him when he meets Saria. Deep in his soul he knows that she is destined to be his mate. Torn between protecting her brothers and finding the truth, Saria treads warily around the powerful shifter. Yet as they venture deep into the mysterious bayou on a hunt for the killer, Saria finds herself longing for Drake's touch and the sweet release of surrender.

+++++++++++++

Last month for book club the girls and I decided to do a beach read. Our task choose the most trashy romance novel you can find based on cover and title alone. Now I used to read romance novels when I was a teenager and had my own little collection of harlequins stashed away. And then I grew up. I guess I started to prefer reading my urban fantasy at the beach rather than a bodice ripper. I wanted plot. I wanted character development. I wanted lines that didn’t include ‘see how my body weeps for you’. Bodice rippers bring out the snark in me. I find them hilarious. But it’s the summer…

So I did what we had agreed. Off to the local bookstore I went. I contemplated your typical bodice ripper full of period dresses and heaving bosoms because let’s face it those covers are great. But I decided I wanted something more modern. Now remember I couldn’t read the back blurb, my choice was based on title and cover alone. Savage Nature. Well now that sounds good. I picked it up. Even better since the title on the cover is in glittery holographic gold. You know it has to be good. The cover itself is a jungly, now that I have read it perhaps bayou-y looking setting with a leopard perched on a tree above a short haired, tank top wearing blonde. I am thinking tomb raider-esque story. ‘She’ll fall prey to peril and passion’. See this might be good. I apparently ignored the whole ‘A Leopard novel’ which in my addled brain I would have taken to mean that the blonde and Nathan Drake are either searching for an elusive Leopard object or that they decide to save some leopards…or something. I should have known it was paranormal romance. Bonus to the cover though it opens up to show another cover of our hero a ripped specimen of man. At least I got some eye candy.

Saria has lived her entire life on the bayou of Louisiana taking care of the family business and her home since she was a girl. With 5 older brothers you would think she would have had help. Instead she grew up to be a fierce and independent woman, a guide for hire and a photographer. One night as she is taking photographs she finds a body in the swamp. But this isn’t just an ordinary murder, it’s a leopard shifter murder and all of her brothers are leopard shifters. She contacts outside help hoping that someone will come in and help her figure things out before someone else dies.

Help comes in the form of Drake Donovan, a leopard shifter and dominant alpha male. Drake is surprised not only to discover that Saria is a leopard as well, but that she is his mate. The only problem…Saria has no idea she is a shifter. It’s a race against time not only to discover the killer, but prepare Saria for what is about to happen, and maybe fall in love as well.

The Review:
The moment Drake shows up all of that independence, intelligence, and determination goes out the window. Suddenly she is a naïve ingénue that is not only willing to jump into bed with her new handsome stranger, but believe every word he is telling her. She has known him for about 24 hours. This personality shift was so jarring that I almost gave up right there. Plus I think the whole ‘mate’, pre-destined love thing in a trope that I could live without. I find it boring as it takes out any romantic tension of will they or wont they. There is no courtship. No fire. No surprises (even though yes we know they will end up together at the end of the book). I would like to say that Saria is suspicious of this undeniable connection Drake has with her, but not really. She too easily goes along with it even though she has known this man for less than a week.

Now I am a dire hard romantic, but I am also a realist. As much as I want the fairytale romance of love at first sight and all of that schtick. I believe in lust at first sight. Love grows. Love is earned. Maybe it’s because I am a bit of a romantic cynic who has been hurt before and therefore careful with my heart, but I wouldn’t be willing to give up my entire way of life, my ideals, my strength, and my independence for a man I met a few days ago. This is why I gave up on Saria.

I gave up on the shifters because I don’t really buy a couple of things. One, it is rather convenient that female leopards emerge far after puberty (because apparently you’re not allowed to have a sexual awakening until you are in your twenties or however old Saria was supposed to be) and that Drake showed up just in the nick of time as his soul mate was going through this lustful change (*eye roll*). And really Saria didn’t have a clue about her heritage when…EVERYONE…else in the book knew. She discovered her brothers’ secrets, why wouldn’t she discover her own. Someone would have slipped up some time in her life. Now this is the 5th book in Feehan’s series about the Leopard People so maybe there are explanations for all of this in the other books. Somehow I doubt it.

The mystery was fine though a bit forced but fine. The smuttiness fine though please stop saying that a first time is going to be frakking awesome with a large man. I don’t care how experienced he is and how in heat or whatever. Just. Stop. Seriously sometimes I feel like romance novels are written by men fulfilling their wish fantasies instead of our own, but maybe I am just a weird girl. Yep, that’s probably it.

I will say I had a nice picture in my head of the way the bayou looked and all of the locals had nice True Blood accents in my head. So that was a like.

Buy or Borrow: Borrow. In the end this was not for me. I did not find it sexy. It was not a quick read and took itself far too seriously. I’m going back to my Kate Daniels series and have some nice Curran and Kate times. Or hell even look up some of my old harlequins. Gods, I am so not a girly girl sometimes.

Part of:Series. Part of the Leopard People series

Also Recommended: For some shifter romance, try the Mercy Thompson series by Patricia Briggs or even more romance heavy the Alpha and Omega series also by Patricia Briggs.

1.5 out of 4 happy bibliosnark bookmarks 

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Guardians of the Galaxy: A Review

Guardians of the Galaxy
Directed By: James Gunn
Written By: James Gunn and Nicole Perlman
Genre:ACTION ADVENTURE/SCI FI
Rated: R
Time: 121 min
Starring: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Vin Diesel, Bradley Cooper, Lee Pace, Glenn Close, John C. Reilly, Michael Rooker

Plot: From Marvel, the studio that brought you the global blockbuster franchises of "Iron Man," "Thor," "Captain America" and "The Avengers," comes a new team—the Guardians of the Galaxy. An action-packed, epic space adventure, Marvel's "Guardians of the Galaxy" expands the Marvel Cinematic Universe into the cosmos, where brash adventurer Peter Quill finds himself the object of an unrelenting bounty hunt after stealing a mysterious orb coveted by Ronan, a powerful villain with ambitions that threaten the entire universe. To evade the ever-persistent Ronan, Quill is forced into an uneasy truce with a quartet of disparate misfits—Rocket, a gun-toting raccoon, Groot, a tree-like humanoid, the deadly and enigmatic Gamora and the revenge-driven Drax the Destroyer. But when Quill discovers the true power of the orb and the menace it poses to the cosmos, he must do his best to rally his ragtag rivals for a last, desperate stand—with the galaxy's fate in the balance.

Comments: Most who know me understand that I am a fairly big Marvel fan, but until the first couple of trailers for Guardians of the Galaxy, I had never really read anything with them unless it was in passing. That has now changed.

I think one of the biggest reasons I was looking forward to Guardians was the abundance of snark and pop culture references. With all of the seriousness of Captain America 2 and the latest Thor, it was nice to see previews for something a little less...dramatic (not that I don’t love the Marvel Universe in films right now…trust me I totally do). Bonus, I really love misfits and antiheroes (looking at you Mal and Jayne). I also really like James Gunn who brought me Slither and wrote the Dawn of the Dead reboot as well as the game Lollipop Chainsaw which makes me giggle. So yeah, I was kind of psyched to see it. Which I have now done twice.

While Starlord may be the main character, it is such an ensemble piece that you cannot help but love every single one of the Guardians. Groot and Rocket are my favorite because really you cannot have one without the other. And they steal absolutely every scene that they are in. Sure Groot may just say “I am Groot”, but the big tree is one of my favorite. The CGI on him is marvelous and the expressions priceless. Same goes with Rocket who looks amazing. There were very few times that I found the CGI distracting or wholly unrealistic. Also I want a mini Groot that dances kind of like the little sun plant toy I got from Japan. Or you know a real Groot. That would be fine too. Bradley Cooper as Rocket does a great job of inserting the snark whenever and wherever possible. As a snark lover, this endears him to me. Also the Ranger Rick nickname. And he almost made me cry, stupid furball.

Chris Pratt as Peter Quill is perfect. While I am still getting to know Quill in the comics I think Pratt did a wonderful job and I cannot wait to see him again in the next Guardians film. Or other things so I am quite pleased that he is the lead in the next Jurassic Park. Gamora (Saldana) not only has amazing hair, but she brings a whole lot of kick ass to the group being an assassin and all. Even Tony Stark gives her praise in the comics. Saldana brings a grace to her and I am once again quite pleased to have a kick ass heroine in a film surrounded by male heroes. Though seriously Marvel where is my Carol Danvers film already? Finally Drax the Destroyer finishes out the group and he too is a welcome addition. While Quill constantly throws out snark, pop culture references, and metaphors Drax is the silent type. He doesn’t understand metaphors and the concept of tact. But you still like him. As I said you love the whole group.

The weakness, I think, in the film comes from the villains. I love Karen Gillan, but beyond looking amazing Nebula is fairly one dimensional. As are the rest of the villains. Again, I love Lee Pace, but Ronan is so cookie cutter compared to the rest of the vivid characters in the film. He’s definitely better than other Marvel villains (Malekith for example), but I wanted so much more. Thanos looks amazing and even his brief appearance makes me highly excited for an Infinity Gauntlet storyline. I was just a little underwhelmed by the villains is all.

And there are changes from the comic books. Yondu is certainly different and yet I like Rooker’s version of him. It works in the film. There is so much to be thrilled with this film. I look forward to meeting J’Son if we ever get that far and perhaps seeing a certain starlet in a Planet Hulk film? The film is gorgeous. Visually I dig all of the colors from Gamora’s green hued skin to the gorgeous colors of outer space. This is not a washed out film by any means and I truly loved watching it all. Finally, the soundtrack is wonderful. Full of 80’s pop songs it completely complimented the film.

Rent/Cinema? Cinema. I haven’t laughed this much since the Lego Movie and it is a welcome addition to the Marvel Universe. Shame it will be another couple of years until I get the next one.

4/4 popcorns

Saturday, August 9, 2014

GAMER GIRL WEEKENDS: Destiny Beta

It’s been a bit since the Destiny Beta ended, but E and I certainly had fun while it lasted. We played it a bit on the PS3 and then again on our Xbox Ones. September 9th’s launch date for the actual game approaches quicker than I expected, but such is the nature of summer. So what did I think?

While not highly customizable I was able to choose a female character with race options of human, awoken, and exo (robotic like). I could choose a hairstyle, skin, eye, and hair color as well as markings. I chose the Awoken who kind of remind me of Mass Effect’s Asari with the skin palatte of pastels. They also have glowing eyes, so I went all Dune style and chose some glowing blue eyes. I was satisfied with my character though you really only see what she looks like in the Tower, anywhere else she is covered in her armor.

There are three classes: Hunter, Warlock, and Titan. I chose Warlock as I am totally into the space magic thing. E played all three classes, but I did not have a chance to play the beta nearly as much as he did. Warlocks specialize in combining tech magic with the weapons. They wear long coats and have an arm band on their upper left arm (that is my customization option beyond the armor…other people get capes and such that you can noticeably see a change in…sigh). The super ability was a Nova bomb which you sling at your enemies and disintegrate them (whee). Now while there are three classes to choose from it is interesting that they aren’t your typical classes such as Healer, Tank, and so forth. As far as I know there don’t appear to be any more classes that will be available for launch, but perhaps there will be later (such as in Mass Effect multi).

Once I made my character and went through the tutorial (by the way you need to have the ability to skip scenes especially if you decide to replay with a different class) there are a few different modes of the game. Story mode is self-explanatory and furthers the overall story of the game. It can still be played with two other players though they are not necessary for its completion. I didn’t know what to make of the story as it capped at Level 5 for the Beta and I was unable to get a real sense of what was happening. Like most story modes you have a boss battle at the end of each chapter. Strike mode pairs you with two other players either of your own choosing or through a matchmaking process. There are three waves of enemies, each more difficult than the previous. Explore mode allowed you to go find mission markers and complete small missions. It is essentially grind mode, but there were special events that occurred that were kind of nice. In this aspect it reminded me of Defiance a bit and what things I liked about that game (though ultimately E and I did not play it together as he has a Japanese xbox and so they were putting him on a server on the other side of the world) where certain mission required a hell of a lot of strangers gathering together for a common battle. I do hope there will be more of these ‘events’ and ones that may require larger numbers of people and some strategy. Finally there was the Crucible which is pvp which I personally am not into all that much (I prefer Mass Effect’s co-op far more), but we will see as I don’t mind CoD when playing with friends (but rarely feel the need to go in and play by myself).

We spent a lot of time either doing Strike Mode (easier to level up and more of a challenge) or Exploring (the special events happened in this mode as I said earlier, plus it was fun just to explore as the game is quite pretty).

The Good.
The loot system is great. Almost everything except is ammo is pretty rare so you don’t fill up your inventory with stuff you won’t use really quickly. Weapons and armor can either be standard (White), uncommon (Green), rare (Blue), or legendary (Purple). I managed to end up with a couple of blue items but they were all above my level cap of 8 and so I was unable to use them in the beta. Your gear can also level up so you tend to stick with individual weapons for longer. You don’t fight over loot and who gets what which is nice.

The AI is great. Perfect no, but I do like that there is a little strategy with them. Fallen would respond to where my shots came from (though I could stealthy move away from that spot and snipe them elsewhere) and would regroup and look for cover. They would search for me as well so I couldn’t just bank on hiding and hoping they would go away (such as sitting outside of a cave waiting for my health to regenerate). However, like most AI they did have their ‘Doh’ moments. But overall I liked it.

This game really is gorgeous. In fact I wouldn’t mind having some of the background scenery as desktops. I look forward to exploring more worlds.

The Meh.
The UI is a bit weird, seemingly made for PC instead of game consoles where you have to hover over areas and then click on them with your controller (as you would a mouse). Seems like an odd choice since as far as I know there is no move for it to be a PC game right now.

How big is the game? I know with the Beta we only had a few areas to choose from, but I wonder how much replay value there is. I am not sure how many planets or other solar system stops there are and how many story levels are on each…I guess we will see.

The Bad.
I love you Peter Dinklage, but I will have to pass on your voice acting. It’s not that your voice isn’t great or that you are a bad actor because I have many favorites that would say otherwise (The Last Station), but you don’t sound like AI. For my ghost I am expecting Terence Stamp, Paul Bettany, or even Bill Nighy’s Speaker. It’s the lilt of their voice. Unless of course your Ghost turns out to be something different than AI.

For a social game, it kind of lacks the social aspect. While I appreciate wanting to keep things nice for all involved, not being able to chat with your new friends at the Tower didn’t stop the trolls. I still had guys greeting me by crouching in front of my lady character (really? *sigh*) or doing the typical follow you around and get in your face whenever they are able. This is going to happen and as a gamer with a very lady moniker who plays lady characters whenever she can it doesn’t surprise me. I’m used to it.

What does surprise me is how limited I am to making new friends. With Mass Effect and even CoD, I have made a lot of friends I game with just by meeting them in the lobby or finding them on my team and having a kick ass match with them. But it’s also nice to be able to point out things such as loot in this cave, or I’m going to go and try and take out this level 20 boss, anyone want to join me in the free roam levels and as of right now I can’t do that unless you are already part of my fireteam. I found the lack of social happiness particularly annoying when everyone is at the Tower, the seemingly big social place for the game. Other than kicking around a beach ball or soccer ball, having a dance party, or playing some leap frog that is about it. I couldn’t in game message anyone or see if they wanted to go head off on adventures.

I also want my team of four. This is what I am used to. And yes I already have my team of four. Rawr. This what gamers are used to in recent years when it comes to multiplayer experiences (Borderlands 2 for example) and what we have come to expect for future games as well (the new Assassin’s Creed).

The Verdict.
Whoo hoo, a game E and I can play together with our friends. Yes it’s a FPS meets dungeon crawler without the witty snark, but I am okay with that. Is it perfect…no. But few games are. It is a gorgeous game that I enjoyed playing for a few days and found myself missing when the beta ends so that has to say something. I think it has potential like many games coming out this Fall. We will see how the final version turns out, but I will at least be buying it in September.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown: A Review

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown
Written by: Holly Black
Paperback: 419 pages
Publisher: Little Brown Books
Language: English
September 2013
Genre: Young Adult /Horror/Vampires

Tana lives in a world where walled cities called Coldtowns exist. In them, quarantined monsters and humans mingle in a decadently bloody mix of predator and prey. The only problem is, once you pass through Coldtown’s gates, you can never leave.

One morning, after a perfectly ordinary party, Tana wakes up surrounded by corpses. The only other survivors of this massacre are her exasperatingly endearing ex-boyfriend, infected and on the edge, and a mysterious boy burdened with a terrible secret. Shaken and determined, Tana enters a race against the clock to save the three of them the only way she knows how: by going straight to the wicked, opulent heart of Coldtown itself.

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown is a wholly original story of rage and revenge, of guilt and horror, and of love and loathing from bestselling and acclaimed author Holly Black.


+++++++++++++

How do you like your vampires? Do you like them Nosferatu style? Or do you prefer your vampires a little sexier like something out of True Blood or The Vampire Diaries. I have always been a vampire fan from the tales of the Leanansidhe to more recent lore. It’s an odd thing as I dig the whole sexy vampire schtick and all of the not so disguised innuendos, but I also love my vampires scary. I want them to be apex predators. So as much as I love vampires from the Kate Daniels books where they are controlled by necromancers, smexy things such as Spike and Angel, or Tom Hiddleston in The Only Lovers Left Alive, I also love the Strain, 30 Days of Night, and Near Dark.

The vampires in The Coldest Girl in Coldtown hover somewhere between the scary predator and the smexy sultry monster. Tana used to be enamored with vampires like everyone else. But they were myth. They weren’t scary. They were number counting muppets and sold cereal. Sexy rockers and cartoon villains. They weren’t real. The joke was on humanity.

Caspar Morales changed everything when he decided to stop hiding in the shadows and seducing…and infecting his way across the country. By the time the ancients caught up with him he’d created hundreds of new vampires and they didn’t understand anything. You see when you are bitten you go Cold. Sometimes you don’t know for 48 hours, but if you are truly infected the thirst for blood is overpowering. You can beat the infection if you are determined. It just means avoiding drinking blood for 88 days. If you taste even a sip, its done. Game over. And three months is a very, very long time when you are Cold.

So after the vampire explosion happened, the US created Coldtowns in an attempt to control the spread of the infection. If you are a vampire, you are thrown into a Coldtown. And if you’re human or potentially infected, the same deal applies. So what happens if you beat the Cold? That’s the thing. You may not need permission from your parents to enter a Coldtown and can enter on your own volition if you are so determined, but you cannot leave unless you own a marker and haven’t turned. Markers cost money. A lot of money. The easiest way to earn a marker is to become a hunter and turn in a vampire. But again, that’s rare.

Coldtowns these days almost seem glamourous. Broadcast feeds featuring vampire celebrities certainly make life in a Coldtown look like one big party. Immortality looks attractive. But Tana knows better. She knows first-hand what being Cold can do to a person. She has the scars to prove it from when her mother tried to wait out the infection in the basement. Tana wanted to help. Tana didn’t understand. She knows it is all just hype. So how does Tana find herself in a Coldtown?

The morning after a lock in party with with all of her classmates, Tana wakes up in a bathtub. She is not exactly a stranger to the party hard and wake up a bit dazed and in a strange place. She is not, however, familiar with leaving the bathroom and finding everyone dead. She is not the only survivor. Her annoying yet endearing ex has been bitten and left to go Cold tied to one side of the bed while a vampire is chained to the other side just out of reach. Putting on her white hat she saves them both, promising to have her breakdown later when she has time. It’s a race against time to save the three of them which means going to the one place she has no desire to enter: Coldtown.

Things I loved: I first read about Coldtown in Holly Black’s short story anthology the Poison Eaters when we meet a young woman named Matilda. Vampire lore has horror in it again even as a majority of the world continues to romanticize them. That is what I really love about the book is losing the romanticism and seeing what vampires really are. There is blood. There is gore. There is death. There is also never a moment that I don’t believe that Gavriel is a predator as much as I like him.

The real strength the story gets is from Tana herself. She is an extremely relatable and likable protagonist. She has flaws and weaknesses, but she is also has an incredible strength. She has been through a lot from her mother to loving Aidan who couldn’t seem to keep his hands off other girls and boys while they were together. She recognizes he is a jerk, but she still feels like she needs to protect him as she still cares for him in her own way. She is a survivor and a savior (though sometimes saves out of desperation and fear rather than courage), a sister, a daughter, and extremely loyal to her friends. She saw behind the curtain long before most and despite being a teenager has aged far quicker than her peers. She is trying to make peace with her past and the mistakes she has made.

Gavriel is doing the same thing. And while I hate the centuries old vampire falling for the teenager schtick, this romance made sense to me. While not the focus of the story overall, there is a hint of romance here and once I enjoyed. No one has saved Gavriel before, but Tana did. She has no illusions of who and what he is, but she is attracted to him anyway. Of course Tana is not without her own darkness. But I think it is her strength, her mercy, and her loyalty which draws him ever closer to her. Sure they fall for one another rather quickly, but they also go through some intense shit together.

The Coldtown itself is also a great character. From the outside it looks like a never ending party full of gothy glamour and immortality. The internet feeds document the lives of the infamous vampires, the vampire hunters that bring them to the Coldtowns in the first place, and the romanticism of promised immortality. It’s a great little commentary about truth and propaganda, of how we turn the monstrous into something seductive. There are a lot of lies we tell ourselves about the world. In Tana’s world the Coldtown is one of the biggest lies. They don’t tell you that once you enter you are prey, that your party mansion may not have running water, that you barter for rat on a stick, that the Coldtown is little more than a Shanty town. But once you are in, how do you get out? And does the government really want you to get out after all the vampires need to eat somehow or they stop being complacent about being herded into Coldtowns.

Midnight and Winter have their own delusions about Coldtown. When Tana meets up with them all they want is to become part of the fantasy, vampire twins living a life of luxury. They are in love with death and are prepared to document it all for the masses on their blog. But even when the horrific happens Midnight is still determined to document it, put a spin on it. Why?

I actually enjoyed the narrative. While Tana is ultimately the voice of the novel, there are chapters that contain Gavriel’s backstory, blog posts, and even Tana’s sister viewpoints. Together they expand the universe. It was a great way to add information and flesh things out without having a boring info dump.

Finally, I am going to return to the clever balance Black walks during her novel. There is the romanticism of a lot of things from relationships to vampires. Holly cleverly contrasts it with parting the delusion curtain and reminding us of the darker sides, of the truth behind the lies. Quite often this involves death, torture, fear, manipulation, and suicide. There is love and there is loathing, excess and poverty. There are lot of lies we tell ourselves about the world when we are teenagers, hell even as adults. It’s easier that way. We romanticize a lot, turn our fears, our regrets into something else entirely. We make excuses. We wax poetic. And then we remember or discover the truth. It’s a great theme.

Things I didn’t love so much: It was too short and I want more. That’s about it.

Buy or Borrow: Buy. It’s original and full of adventure, vampires, a hint of romance, and one hell of a heroine. Great book.

Part of: Stand alone (but could be the start of a beautiful series?)

Also Recommended: Try Sunshine by Robin McKinley which is one of my favorite vampire novels. I would also recommend Holly Black’s other series such as the Modern Faerie Tale series. Also to read more about Coldtown check out Holly Black’s short story collection The Poison Eaters.

4 out of 4 happy bibliosnark bookmarks