Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Veronica Mars: A Review

Veronica Mars
Directed By: Rob Thomas
Written By: Rob Thomas and Diane Ruggiero
Genre:CRIME
Rated: PG 13
Time: 107 min
Starring: Kristen Bell, Jason Dohring, Chris Lowell, Ryan Hansen, Krysten Ritter, Percy Daggs III, Tina Majorino, Francis Capra Ken Marino, Enrico Colantoni
Plot: Veronica Mars has put Neptune and her amateur sleuthing days behind her on the eve of graduating law school. While interviewing at high-end law firms, Veronica gets a call from her ex-boyfriend Logan who has been accused of murder. Veronica heads back to Neptune just to help Logan find an attorney, but when things don’t seem right with how Logan’s case is perceived and handled, Veronica finds herself being pulled back into a life she thought she had left behind.

Comments: 9 years ago, my heart broke a little when there was no more Veronica to hang with every week. A long time ago, we used to be friends…but then she left me. I may have cried. I missed Neptune. I missed LoVe (Logan/Veronica…fellow marshmallows understand this). Thankfully it came back and I got to visit Neptune all over again and hug Daddy Mars. E was new to the show and had no idea what was going on, Sarah had just finished binge watching all the seasons in the past two weeks, Finn and Jenna were late to the party but not hard core fans (Finn was bitter about the whole post Buffy push that occurred when it first aired…watch this it’s the next Buffy. Joss is even in an episode)and Keith, Sarah, and I were hard core Marshmallows who were infinitely excited that Xbox was letting us squee all nerd like in my home since it never came even remotely close to our neck of the woods (a slight drawback when living in Montana).

The film opening serves a primer to those who are new to the party or haven’t visited in a while (guilty as charged) complete with theme song, voiceover, and marshmallow squishiness. Former teen PI Veronica Mars (Kristen Bell) left Neptune 9 years ago, and is on her way to joining a high powered law firm (love the middle finger lipstick schtick.) Carrie Bishop, aka pop-star Bonnie DeVille has been murdered. As her on again off again boyfriend of a couple of years Logan Echolls (Jason Dohring) who is Veronica’s ex is the prime suspect (again), especially when he was found with her body. Veronica heads back to her old hunting ground to see if she can help at all. Things haven’t really changed have they despite what we may have been led to believe. Neptune is still Neptune where the haves and have nots don’t mix well. Dick is still Dick. Mac and Wallace are still awesome (Tina I love your hair). However Logan shows up in a Naval uniform…that’s new (and oh so right).

What don’t we get in this movie? We have snarky and smart quips, chock full of pop culture references, cameos, a high body count (wasn’t expecting that), nerdy cameos by James Franco, a reference to Veronica’s alternate universe FBI profession, clever characters we know, love, and miss, the rich being tied up in yet another murder plot, and Daddy Mars being the most awesome and protective dad ever (Enrico you are amazing). I was a little surprised that there was no mention of Duncan Kane as he played a large part in Veronica’s life and I felt so bad for Piz, even though he never had a chance for a happily ever after with Veronica.

The film brought a lot of closure for me, but also we have decided that more films need to be made. We kickstarted you once, we can do it again. This was a perfect little love letter to the fans, thank you all. I must admit I am a junkie too. I cannot leave Neptune behind. It is always going to be there. I am always going to want to go back again. I feel the same way about the Hellmouth too.

Rent/Cinema?See it.

4/4 popcorns

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

TUESDAY TRAILERS: A LONG WAY DOWN

Nick Hornby is one of my favorite writers so I was pleasantly surprised to see that one of his newer books was being made into a film. Of course knowing Bozeman, it probably will not come out here, but it is still early in the year so I will cross my fingers.


Summary: Four lost souls – a disgraced TV presenter, a foul-mouthed teen, an isolated single mother and a solipsistic muso – decide to end their lives on the same night, New Year’s Eve. When this disillusioned quartet of strangers meet unintentionally at the same suicide hotspot, a London high-rise with the well-earned nickname Topper’s Tower, they mutually agree to call off their plans for six weeks, forming an unconventional, dysfunctional family, becoming media sensations as the Topper House Four and searching together for the reasons to keep on living..... Opens July 11, 2014.

Monday, April 28, 2014

MONDAY MEME: POWERGIRL

Source: Texts from Superheroes

Sickness in the Family: A Review

Sickness in the Family
Written by: Denise Mina
Illustrated By: Antonio Fuso Paperback: 192 pages
Publisher: Vertigo
Language: English
October 2010
Genre: Comic/Mystery

Meet the Ushers. The parents, Ted and Biddy. Grandma Martha. The three kids, William, Amy and Sam. Just a normal, middle-class family gathered around the table on Christmas Day. Until they start dying. Violent deaths. One by one. Is there a curse on their house, as a recently unearthed history of witchcraft in the area would suggest? Or has one member of the Usher clan declared open season on the rest? As secrets and resentments boil to the surface, it becomes clear that more than one Usher has a motive for killing off the others. But in the end, the truth turns out to be far more shocking than anyone in this ill-fated family could have imagined.

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

I have been trying to decide whether I should form a Comic Book 101 group for the geek gals. I have always been extremely fond of comics and think they get a bad rap. People always just assume it is nothing but caped crusaders and masked superheroes. I think Denise Mina and I would disagree. In an effort to read even more graphic novels I turned to the mystery/thriller/crime genre. It is not a genre that I read a lot, which is a shame as there is some great stuff out there. So when I went to the library I had to pick this guy up.

The Ushers look like your typical family albeit a bit dysfunctional, but who isn’t these days. Ted and Biddy, Biddy’s mom Martha, and the three grown children William, Amy and Sam have all come together for Christmas. Tragedy strikes when a horrible murder takes place in the basement flat they let out. Ted quickly decides that this means this is the perfect time to incorporate the flat back into the house as that has been his plan for many years. Then family members start to die. First Grandma Martha falls through the hole one night; a drop of almost thirty feet. She suffers a stroke and can no longer take care of herself. The rest of the family could care less, and it is up to Sam to care for Martha. Ted and his wife Biddy are having problems and seeing a marriage counselor, William is kicked out of school, and Amy just wants money. Sam seems to be the only sane member of the family. As Sam investigates he begins to wonder is it because of the wrath of a witch who was burnt at the stake there in the 1500s? Or has one of the remaining family members decided to get rid of the rest, each of whom has a surprisingly good reason for wanting the others dead?

Things I loved: Ooh dysfunction at its best. Everyone is selfish, with the exception of Sam, it seems. They bicker, they fight, and are downright nasty. Sam tries to hold it all together, but in the end he understands that he is the outsider. Maybe that is a good thing, being adopted and not quite having all of this in the blood. Perhaps.

This is a great little gothic horror mystery, one that had a twist I wasn’t quite expecting though definitely had my guesses. The art is black and white with fairly stark lines and a lot of shadowing. I think it fits with the comic overall and is still gruesome even without the splashes of red.

Things I didn’t love so much: The narrative was a bit uneven at times, though overall the pacing was nice. Also, while I like a good mystery and thriller you have to make a few of the characters sympathetic. At the beginning of the story the family sits around in dysfunctional dinner bliss while their tenant is beaten and murdered. No one lifts a finger. So when they start dying do I really care? Not really. So as a whole the story, because I could not feel any sympathy for the characters, was missing that great hook I was looking for.

Buy or Borrow: Borrow. This won’t be for everyone. It has some great things about it that I really liked, but some things I also really didn’t like.

Part of: Stand Alone

Also Recommended: If you are looking for some mystery/crime comics please try: Criminal by Ed Brubaker, Fell by Warren Ellis, Torso by Brian Michael Bendis, and Queen and Country by Greg Rucka.

2.75 out of 4 happy bibliosnark bookmarks 

Sunday, April 27, 2014

April Loot Crate: Dragons

I am new to the world of monthly subscription boxes. I was struggling to find a unique anniversary gift for the mister and after looking at all of the goodies on Lootcrate decided to give it a go. I am glad we did. A Couple of weeks ago I spoke about our March crate which was full of Attack on Titan and Titanfall goodness. This month’s theme was Dragon and I was excited as we had been spoiled that Game of Thrones items may be involved.

Early last week I came home to find the little package waiting in our mailbox. E had had a fairly hard day and this was the perfect little pick me up. Photo taking apparatus in hand we went out onto the porch and E was happy to document his looting experience. This is what happened.

Look at the box isn’t it so pretty? Such a lovely box of goodies. The moment you open it up you cannot help but squee just a little. I love surprises. So does E.

The first thing you notice is the booklet that comes with every happy curated box. In this issue you learn a bit more about the things within the box as well as the curated theme. I seriously love the art. Cute little dragon sitting on the Throne of Loot. You know good things are going to be behind that little book.
I am the Dragon's Daughter

** Game of Thrones Mini: I was excited about this more than E as I am a big ASOIAF fan. Though I am not totally caught up on the tv series, I was happy. And look its Dany! I was kind of hoping for this one or a dire wolf or one of the dragons, so pleased as punch. I think I am going to steal her away and take Daenerys with us when we do all of our traveling this summer and take photos with her. I like the Funko vinyl figures. Actually I like vinyl figures period (I have a ton of the Doctor Who mystery ones that Titan did) and she is a worthy addition to our collection.

** Elder Scrolls Online Exclusive Figure: An exclusive figure from Bethesda and Symbiote, this is for Lootcraters only. Yea exclusives. The Nord aka cute little two inch Dragonborn in my head comes with a detachable helmet and weapons. E and I like both of the vinyl figures as they are not necessarily something we would buy at the store, but ones that we would love to add to our nerdy collections. Also E thought it was hilarious that the Dany figure’s box claimed it was not a toy because by the end of the unboxing Daenerys and The Nord are now married and The Nord has to take care of the little ones while Mother goes to war.

 *** D20 Stress Die: E liked this one probably because he is excited that he gets to DM the new Tabletop 101 group I am starting for the Geek Girl Adventure Group. But also because April is National Stress Awareness Month (we have stress, of this we are aware) and who doesn’t need more stress toys. Especially nerdy stress toys (I have an adipose one at work).

Wonder if it tastes like chicken
***Dragon Jerky: Fus Ro Yum: We haven’t tried it yet, but it’s only a matter of time. Cute packaging.

*** Dragon Shield Screen Cleaner: Again, it fits with the theme and totally adorable. E might stick it to his phone case or at least keep it nearby for cleaning after we play to much Doctor Who Legacy and Disco Zoo. It will come in handy as our screens are always a mess.


***D20 Die, Dragon Slayer Dog Tag & Collectible Pin: The Collectible Pin has come with every crate we have received thus far and they are a nice little addition. The D20 will be used tomorrow night no doubt and the Dog Tag is probably the least useful item in the crate but again I am happy that it still was Dragon related.


The happy couple. Ready for war.

So for an exchange of $13.37 + $6 shipping, we got chock full of dragon goodness. I am estimating about $35 worth of goodies though again you had exclusives so that is hard to put a price on. So far we have been very happy about our loot crates. The mini magazines have been great and I love the central theme around each of the boxes. There are also perks to being a looter. You get entered into a raffle every month for a Mega Crate which has up to $1000 worth of amazing items. We are crossing our fingers. What’s you think of this month’s Loot Crate if you are a nerdy looter like we are? If you are interested in signing up or just want to learn more, click here. You can use the code “MAYLOOT” to save $3 off your first box.

SUNDAY SEVEN: WITCHES IN FICTION

Witches are in and I am okay with getting away from the werewolf and vampire craze. We’ve had American Horror Story and the Coven, Julianne Moore will be playing a wicked witch in Seventh Son later this year, Angelina Jolie looks positively wicked as Malificent, and a certain green witch has been creating Havoc on Once Upon a Time. This past Sunday, the TV series Salem premiered. It’s been a while since Charmed, so I think we might be due. Though I am not sure how I feel about making light and soap opera-y with things that actually went down, but I know I will watch. I started thinking about my favorite witches beyond the obvious Hermione Granger and Miss Willow Rosenberg. Here are Seven of my favorites in film and fiction. So, of course, I have to ask…what are yours?

Mildred “Millie” Hubble (The Worst Witch) I grew up reading the Worst Witch books when I was a kid and then in 1986 I began watching the Worst Witch TV movie every year for Halloween on HBO. The film starred Fairuza Balk as Millie and Tim Curry as the Grand Wizard, but it also had Charlotte Rae (Mrs Garrett from the Facts of Life) and Dame Diana Rigg (Emma Peel from the Avengers). I loved Millie. Tabby couldn’t ride on her broom, so she carries Tabby in her bag, bored with the laughing potion make an invisibility one instead, and in the end she usually saved the day even if things went not as planned. Plus, Jill Murphy who wrote the books (starting when she was 15) based the books on her own experiences at school.


Esmerelda “Granny” Weatherwax (Discworld) “Not dead, just restn” Granny is awesome. Self-appointed guardian of her little country, member of the Lancre coven, and snarky as well, Granny is from the mind of the amazing terry Pratchett. I love Granny because she reminds me of my granny, tough exterior, completely unaware of the notion of tact, and yet loves who she loves fiercely. She may be a good witch, but good doesn’t necessarily mean nice. She is no nonsense and completely badass. "Don't do what you will, do what I tells you."


Sarah Bailey (The Craft) Let’s just say I went through a Craft phase while in high school. The whole goth catholic schoolgirl route and wanting my friends and I to play light as a feather, stiff as a board a lot (sorry no levitating). Robin Tunney plays Sarah in the film, the new girl who has a troubled past, but also has natural powers. Must be nice as I am still trying desperately not to be a Muggle. I am okay with a work accident that leaves me with superpowers. Where are my mutant powers anyway? Anyway, Sarah joins up with a group of girls rumored to be witches, Bonnie (Neve Campbell), Nancy (Fairuza Balk) and Rochelle (Rachel True). The girls start using their powers, but Nancy becomes greedy and wants to all powerful. After a student is killed, Sarah tried to bind Nancy’s powers so of course the coven turns on her. Bad for them as Sarah fights back. Seriously love this movie. Still. Sarah is awesome.


Kiki (Kiki’s Delivery Service) Kiki is awesome. A 13-year old witch, she leaves home to spend a year away from her village in a larger town in order to learn how to live independently by using and developing her magical abilities. Not only did I want Jiji, her cat, but I wanted to be Kiki. I understood Kiki. I related to her loneliness, I completely got wanting to find a new purpose to get my mojo back. But more importantly, just because you are vulnerable it does not mean that you are a failure or its ultimately going to lead to failure.


Gillian and Sally Owens (Practical Magic) Yep I have to have both of them. I read the book by Alice Hoffman before the film came out in theatres. When the film came out its tone was much different from the book which a lot darker, I still loved it for what it was. Gillian and Sally are two very different sisters, but ones who love each other very much. Sally has more talent for the craft while Gillian is more of a charmer of people. As much as Sally wants to keep her daughters away from magic, it is part of who they are. And I love how they embrace it fully at the end black hats and all. You are who you are. Also Midnight Margaritas!!


Morrigan (Dragon Age) Morrigan is a shapeshifting mage, raised and taught by her mother, Flemeth, in the wilds of Ferelden. She is also voiced by Claudia Black whom I love to little bitty pieces. Morrigan is great. She’s a bad ass, a welcome addition to my party of characters and I seriously had the worst time towards the end of the game deciding on Alistair or Morrigan when it came to who would leave my party. Admittedly I wanted my happy ending with both of them. Alistair as my honey and Morrigan as my bestie. Of course that isn’t exactly how it all plays out. It is confirmed that Morrigan will return in Dragon Age: Inquisition, so whoo hoo.


Piper Halliwell (Charmed) Piper (Holly Marie Combs) was my favorite of the Halliwell sisters. She is the one that I related to the most and the power I totally dug. After the Halliwell sisters get their powers Piper gets the power to “freeze” her surrounding environment. This can come in handy as can later manifestations of her powers which included molecular combustion aka blowing stuff up. Piper was the peacemaker of the family, the shy one, and the sweet one. Also she ran a nightclub and I was uber jealous. Plus her chef abilities came in handy when making potions. Finally I am a Piper/Leo fan for life.

Runners Up Include: Maharet and Mehare (Vampire Chrocnicles), The Scarlet Witch (Marvel), Nanny Ogg (Discworld), Thessaly (Sandman), Robin Sena (Witch Hunter Robin), and

Saturday, April 26, 2014

GAMER GIRL WEEKENDS: GEARS OF WAR TRILOGY

E and I like playing games together. We’ve been through the Halo franchise, put far too many hours and money into Mass Effect multiplayer, and cannot wait for Destiny. We’ve even played COD together (we have two systems, one of us uses the TV and one uses a computer monitor and snuggle up on the couch). We were looking for another shooter to play together and I admitted that I had never played the Gears of War games, so we picked up the trilogy and Judgment.

The Gears of War Trilogy is as follows: Gears of War is a military science fiction video game franchise created by Epic Games and now owned by Microsoft Studios. The series focuses on the conflict between humanity, the subterranean reptilian hominids known as the Locust Horde, and their mutated counterparts, the Lambent. The franchise consists of four third-person shooter video games, which have also been supplemented by a comic book series and five novels.

Instead of dissecting each installment, I will give you my general impression of the games as a whole. I dug them. It helps that we played them one right after another, so the story works (though we didn’t play Judgment which is technically a prequel first as the changes in game mechanics and such from Judgment to the first Gears would have made me scream bloody murder)

Set away from Earth on the planet Sera, humans are not doing so well and are systematically being taken out by the Locust who are destroying mankind from below. Of course our hero Marcus Fenix and his friends rise up to crush the tide of invaders even though technically they were there first (You see as we colonized the planet we needed a new power source and found it underground where they were living = hornet’s nest stirred). It’s a fun game.

Image from Google
I hate those damn Tickers

My thoughts: E played Marcus and for a good majority of the games I played Dom. Sadly there really aren’t any female characters to play until we got to Judgment, but I connected with Dom so no worries there. In fact he kind of broke my heart a couple of times (those who have played the games understand what I am talking about). Cole and Baird are great characters as well and of course I love having Claudia Black in later installments (she’s one of my girly crushes and I get all warm and fuzzy whenever she does voice acting in one of my favorite games – see Bioware games). Of course Marcus Fenix is played brilliantly by John DiMaggio who voices both Bender from Futurama and Jake from Adventure Time.

It’s a shooter series which I am feeling more and more confident and comfortable with and occasionally kick E’s butt at (I only started playing shooters, being more of a hack and slash gal, about a year and a half ago). I really enjoyed that E and I could play the campaign together and the scoring system in Judgment made us all competitive like in a good way (Plus I love that you could choose to make missions a wee bit harder if you wanted).


The overall story itself was decent. I know that some say Gears is just a Halo rip off, but I was drawn in by the characters far more than Master Chief. I dug that we didn’t really understand what the Locust wanted until the end of the Third Game and quite often there were a lot of shades of grey. Of course as we played through each of the series, the game controls got better and better (Judgment being my favorite with Y switching your weapons and felt more like COD) as did the visuals. I think my favorite of technically was four games was Gears of War Judgment.

Conclusion: It’s enjoyable to play a game that has a tight narrative, excellent controls, great graphics and sound, AND happens to include some fun re-play features, especially with up to four player co-op.

Gears of War: 3 out of 5 controllers (it holds up really well for a launch title btw), Gears of War 2: 3.5 out of 5, Gears of War 3: 4 out of 5, Gears of War: Judgment: 5 out of 5

Thursday, April 24, 2014

The Posion Eaters: A Review

The Poison Eaters
Written by: Holly Black
Paperback: 212 pages
Publisher: Big Mouth House
Language: English
April 2010
Genre: Anthology/Urban Fantasy/Young Adult

Pick your poison: Vampires, devils, werewolves, faeries, or . . . ? Find them all here in Holly Black’s amazing first collection.

In her debut collection, New York Times best-selling author Holly Black returns to the world of Tithe in two darkly exquisite new tales. Then Black takes readers on a tour of a faerie market and introduces a girl poisonous to the touch and another who challenges the devil to a competitive eating match. Some of these stories have been published in anthologies such as 21 Proms, The Faery Reel, and The Restless Dead, and many have been reprinted in many “Best of ” anthologies.

The Poison Eaters is Holly Black’s much-anticipated first collection, and her ability to stare into the void—and to find humanity and humor there—will speak to young adult and adult readers alike.


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

Those who know me know that I love Holly Black. She is an amazing author and when I saw this book at the library sale, I had to pick it up as it had been on my must read list for a while. This is a mixtape from Holly featuring poison eaters, coldtowns, werewolves, and features characters from the Modern Faerie Tales and the Curse Workers. Let’s talk a little bit more on Holly. She is most well-known for the Spiderwick Chronicles and the Modern Faerie Tales which began with Tithe. My friend Chelle bought me the Modern Faerie Tales and I fell in love with them not only because they dealt with the fey, but I knew the stomping grounds where they took place (The Popcorn Zoo was not far from where I lived and went to high school) and understood Wawas and A&P stores. I felt a connection there. It is also nice to know that Holly is a big giant nerd like me. She has contributed to role playing magazines, has secret rooms in her home with her husband (who does the drawings in this short story collection), is a marshmallow (yeah Veronica Mars), champions for diversity, and is an all-around awesome lady.

I love her because she has some interesting takes on the things I love such as vampires, ghosts, faeries, and more. Quite often her characters come from all walks of life and it is refreshing to have a protagonist that is not middle class. I relate to her characters even when I want to punch them in the face. They are strong, diverse, flawed, and intriguing. With her stories things are not always as they appear and there is always a sense of darkness both good and bad in each of her stories. The Poison Eaters is a great little intro to Holly Black if you have not read any of her stuff before.

Most writers start out writing short stories and novellas. It’s a great way to get things going. I love them because I get a beginning and an end (not a 13 book series with a cliffhanger). When I am stuck in line or waiting I can pick up an anthology and then put it down. They are perfect and a really good indicator if I would like an author’s other works. In fact you can tell a lot about a writer based on their short stories methinks. Of course with Holly Black’s collection, I realized I dug her even more.

"The Coldest Girl in Coldtown" is not Tana’s story if you have read Holly Black’s more recent novel of the same name, but we get another look at Cold Towns. In this story vampirism is chic. “You've probably seen lots of video feeds from inside Coldtown. I saw them too. Pictures of girls and boys grinding together in clubs or bleeding elegantly for their celebrity vampire masters. Here's what you never see. What I'm going to show you.” (p. 27) Matilda doesn’t want to be a vampire and is trying to beat the spreading cold by not staying blood free for eighty-eight days. But the thirst is so tempting so she tries to keep herself drunk which dulls the thirst…not just for herself, but for Julian. She heads to the nearest Cold Town on a rescue mission, but it turns into something quite different. Probably one of the strongest stories of the anthology, I like having another take on the Cold Towns.

“A Reversal of Fortune” is a Deal with the Devil story involving Nikki who is having a bummer of a summer. Bored at the trailer park where she lives and bored at her job at the mall despite the copious amounts of candy she gets to eat, she wants something more. But you should be careful what you wish for. When her beloved pitbull Boo gets run over by the hunk next door she makes a deal with an old man she met on the bus. She knows who he is and what the cost will be, but he doesn’t know how much she loves candy and so she chooses the challenge. A funny, gross, but sweet little story using a plot we’ve all heard before and yet it remains something just a little bit different.

“The Boy Who Cried Wolf” involves a young boy who reads about a local legend which says that a certain flower will change a man into a wolf. When his family stops for lunch he finds the flower. But what is real and what is fantasy. Does a flower really have that power? Or is it merely legend. He cannot help but be curious. We all knew where this one was headed, but I enjoyed the journey there. After all haven’t we all had that one story or legend where we thought might be true, but of course it can’t be right? Those things don’t happen. That thing cannot exist. Do we risk trying to figure it out?

“The Night Market” Set in the Philippines, a young girl tries to save her sister from the curse an elf living in a tamarind tree put on her. What she didn’t expect was for the elf to be so captivatingly beautiful. She knows she needs to convince him, but fails. So she heads to the Night Market to find a potion. Is the potion maker all that he seems? Will Tomasa get a cure strong enough to break the elf’s curse? Does she want to? I love this story because it incorporates superstitions and beliefs that are not widely known. I grew up on my mother and grandmother’s stories of the Tuatha, of pixies, and all things fey. We left honey and milk out. So of course anything fey just makes me smile.

“The Dog King” Probably my second favorite story of the collection features werewolves again but not as you would expect. There is a king with a pet wolf, taken as a pup and raised... and they both have a secret. When a beast starts attacking children, the King makes a dramatic proclamation, offering whoever slays the beast his throne. Are either of them prepared for the outcome? It’s creepy. It’s beautiful and while I don’t want to give too much away the perfect was quite fitting. Everything comes together so beautifully and while a short story I still had character depth with motivations and histories and secrets.

“Virgin” Jen, her friend Tanya and her boyfriend live on the streets. When Jen meets Zachary she thinks she finds a kindred spirit, one who doesn’t scoff at her love for stories like The Hobbit. Over cups of tea he tells Jen about his mother being shot in front of him by drug dealers and a white horse with a single horn coming to him and laying its head in his lap. Jen wants to believe in Zach's unicorn, but how much magic can you believe in when you live in the dirty, messed up world of foster care kids and runaways? It’s a heartbreaking story, but a great one as I understood Jen’s selfishness. Everyone wants to be special especially when you feel like you’ve been thrown away. Great, great story.

“In Vodka Veritas” Set at the Prep school where some of the Curse Workers trilogy takes place, our unnamed Hero and his best friend Danny are having hard times finding dates to the school dance. Instead of wallowing in self-pity, the boys decide to break in to Smythe hall. But of course right before their little break in Danny calls and says that he has found a date after all. No hard feelings right. Feeling betrayed and wallowing in that self-pity they swore they were not going to do our hero breaks in anyway after getting drunk on far too much vodka. What he didn’t expect to find was several hooded figures speaking Latin who want to bring Bacchanalia to the school dance as an act of ultimate revenge. Does he let them?

“The Coat of Stars” Years ago Rafael’s lost his first love to suicide. Now a successful costume designer he returns home to visit his family and is overwhelmed by memories of Lyle. Lyle was supposed to run away with him and was not the type to commit suicide. Drawn to the place where he and Lyle had spoken about faeries the night before they were to leave, Rafael finds a circle of dancing faeries with Lyle among them. Will Rafael be able to rescue his long-lost love from the clutches of the icy fairy queen? More than just a faerie tale, this story deals with family dynamics, with dysfunction, and learning more about yourself through a series of trials. Rafael is extremely likable and I wanted jim to have a happily ever after.

“Paper Cuts Scissors” Justin’s girlfriend always said that she knew how to fold things up and put it in books. At first it was a single playing card that was in a paperback edition of Robin Hood. The Ace of Spades. Little John found it. He’d become convinced it was a sign that they would be defeated by the Sheriff of Nottingham and hanged himself. The Merry Men were less merry after they found his body. Justin had looked at other editions of Robin Hood, but they were unchanged. Then Linda disappears inside a book. Desperate to get her back he goes to school for library science and gets a job organizing the massive library of the eccentric Mr. Sandlin. Rumors are his books come back to life and maybe, just maybe Linda will be in one of them. Very similar to Cornelia Funke's Inkheart series, I enjoyed it as much as I loathed Linda. Then again each of these stories have an ending that leaves me satisfied. And seriously I would love to insert myself in to all of the books I read. Yes please.

“Going Ironside” One neurotic Fey comes to our world to get herself a baby... She’s a fairy junkie who cannot wait for her next fix. Written as an internal monologue you can feel how much she needs her fix. For me this was the weakest of the stories, but I liked what Black tried to do here.

"The Land of Heart's Desire," Revisiting the world of Tithe, we find Corny and Roiben at the Moon and Cup café. Val is missing, but the café is jumping. We learn a bit more about both characters. Corny wants to bring more business to the Café and so he has let it slip that the Fae may frequent the café. Roiben doesn’t understand this desire or longing that non-enchanted humans have for faerie. Faerie has not always been kind, not only to humans, but Roiben as well. He remembers his nurse when he was a child, a woman who was taken from her own children and placed in charge of caring for faerie children. When she was lucid she hated her new charges, but when the enchantment was strong perhaps she loved them. Enchantment is a scary thing, for even the King of the Unseelie, was forced to endure countless humiliations all because he was enchanted. Roiben is far more curious about humans than he cares to let on, but curiosity always has a price. Cute, funny, and heartbreaking at the same time. I love Corny, Val, and Roiben. It was nice to see them again.

“The Poison Eaters” Three sisters have the power to kill with a kiss and a touch. Their father has kept them as weapons, using them as revenge against his enemies. Each girl has a locket with a picture of her future love inside. Perhaps their lonely existence is over. They will find love and get married. Except they all understand what this means, how can they know love if their touch will kill that love. The girls grow weary of their lives, of being the poison eaters. This is their story.

Overall Feeling: The stories have their ups and downs as do all short story collections and yet each is distinctly Holly Black methinks. I think that the stories are diverse enough that there is probably something here for everyone. There is heartbreak, magic, tricksters and fiends, and the reminder that nothing is ever as it seems. It’s a great way to get to know Holly Black if you have not read any of her works before and a worthy addition to my ever growing collection.

Buy or Borrow: Buy.

Part of: Standalone

Also Recommended: Blood Red Anthology is divine especially if you like the retelling of some of your favorite childhood fairy tales and some you may not have heard of. I would also recommend Sirens and other Daemon Lovers, the Best Horror of the Year Anthologies and More. For more urban fantasy fare in anthology form are The Unusual Suspects, the Blood Lite anthologies, Urban Fantasy Anthology and more. As I said there is usually something for everyone when it comes to Anthologies

4 out of 4 happy bibliosnark bookmarks 

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Captain America: Winter Soldier - A Review

Captain America: Winter Soldier
Directed By: Anthony Russo, Joe Russo
Written By: Christopher Markus, Stephen McFeely
Genre:ACTION/ADVENTURE
Rated: PG 13
Time: 136 min
Starring: Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Samuel L. Jackson, Robert Redford, Sebastian Stan, Anthony Mackie, Cobie Smulders
Plot: After the cataclysmic events in New York with The Avengers, Marvel's "Captain America: The Winter Soldier" finds Steve Rogers, aka Captain America, living quietly in Washington, D.C. and trying to adjust to the modern world. But when a S.H.I.E.L.D. colleague comes under attack, Steve becomes embroiled in a web of intrigue that threatens to put the world at risk. Joining forces with Natasha Romanoff aka Black Widow, Captain America struggles to expose the ever-widening conspiracy while fighting off assailants sent to silence him at every turn. When the full scope of the villainous plot is revealed, Captain America and the Black Widow enlist the help of a new ally, the Falcon. However, they soon find themselves up against an unexpected and formidable enemy—the Winter Soldier.

Comments: I am a Marvel fan and while never really a huge Captain America fan (more because I never really read any of his stand alone stuff), I have had a renewed interest in the character and after the last film began catching up. So of course when I saw the first Winter Soldier trailer I was very excited. It’s been tough for Steve Rogers (Chris Evans). He is a man out of time and while he tries to keep busy doing missions for SHIELD, he is having a bit of a rough time. Natasha/Black Widow (Scarlet Johansson) does her best to try and help, but it’s hard. Evans does a great job of exuding that confusion. Everything has changed. He’s a good guy who is trying to figure out if he is merely a yes man now or if he wants to be something more. He still has his ideals and his morality whereas his partner Natasha has given up almost all of hers for the sake of her job.

There are so many great things about this film. I love that if you took out the superhero bits you would have a great political/spy thriller that isn’t hard to relate to with all of the NSA stuff going around these days. This is great because it not only will appeal to a broader audience of both fans and non-fans, but I felt like it breathed new life into the overall main Marvel franchise. I found myself relating to the universe again and not liking it for completely different reasons other than me being a big giant Marvel fangirl.

“On your left” I loved Anthony Mackie as Sam Wilson. Falcon is awesome, but more than that he is a great character. As a war veteran he connects with Steve on a level that others cannot. He understands what it is like to be a fish out of water when you come back to civilian life. They know what it is like being in war and the horrors and tough choices they have had to make. You also like Sam because he is an outsider. Through him we get to learn more about SHIELD and their tactics, morality or lack of, and overall have the everyday guy…ok with wings.

The film has twists and turns everywhere. Double crosses, surprises, and enough shocks to make me thrilled. I also loved it because there are enough nods to those who have read the comics (Agent 13, The Winter Soldier holding the Cap’s shield, etc) to make us happy and all warm and fuzzy like. And holy cow I cannot wait to see the repercussions of this film reverberate through the next set of Marvel films. Whee. Talk about a grenade going off.

My only problem I had with the film is that I wanted more Winter Soldier. I felt like he was underused as awesome as every action scene was. I really felt like his character was skimmed over compared to some of the others. However that is my own really big gripe. I got more than what I wanted. I got awesome and I cannot wait to see it again. Also…you go Maria Hill!

Rent/Cinema?See it.

4/4 popcorns

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Ms. Marvel Volume 3: A Review

Ms Marvel Volume 3: Operation Lightning Storm
Written by: by Brian Reed
Illustrated by: Aaron Lopresti, Roberto de la Torre
Paperback: 160 pages
Publisher: Marvel
Language: English
Jan 2008
Genre: Comic/Graphic Novel

A new beginning for Ms. Marvel Carol Danvers made herself a promise to be "the best of the best" - but after the events of Civil War, has Ms. Marvel lost her way? As the stress mounts and Carol finds herself less and less sure about what she's doing or why, a crossroads is reached and a decision is made - a decision that will change the course of Ms. Marvel's life - and possibly the Marvel Universe Brian Reed (New Avengers: Illuminati) and Roberto De La Torre - plus guest-stars Iron Man, Arana and Wonder Man - kick-off the new era Collects Ms. Marvel #11-17.

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

I have heard a lot of good things about Ms. Marvel but never really got around to reading anything with her that was anything really more than passing or small references. As the opening month for Comic Book 101, I decided that the girls needed to read what most people think of when they think of comics: caped crusaders and masked heroes…yep superheroes. So this was the perfect time to go and explore some new heroes. Plus it was awesome that the local bookstore had a 5 for $20 sale on all of their used books which meant hello graphic novels…whoo hoo.

I think what draws me to Ms Marvel is she is a woman who has exceled in a very male dominated military world and hell she is Captain Marvel now. Maybe it is also because my friend Lada has done cosplay of her along with so much more. She looked interesting and a name that comes up quite often when discussing women in comics.

Carol Danvers wants to be more than just Ms. Marvel. She wants to be something more not only in her professional life, but in her personal life. She is strong, but has self-doubt. She wants normalcy in her private life and tries so hard to go on a date and have that slice of normal, but desperately wants to get past her demons and become something more than she has been as Ms. Marvel. Civil War apparently messed her up pretty badly, so she has things to prove to herself and others. She gets her chance when Iron Man asks her to be the leader of the new Avengers team he is putting together as he has too much on his own plate running SHIELD. But she wants to do it her own way and instead assembles her own Lightning Storm Strike Team (including a mini-carrier) which will take the offensive against serious threats like A.I.M. before they get to Avenger like threat levels. It’s not a bad team consisting of Wonder man, Machine Man, Sleepwalker, Agent Sum, and Arana. We even get to see M.O.D.O.K. (Mechanized Organism Designed Only for Killing).

Things I loved: As per usual Marvel does a great job of giving you a brief synopsis of recent history exposition at the beginning so I wasn’t lost. Of course, I had no idea that I was also reading Volume 3 instead of Volume 1. The art is also nice though it is penciled by two different artists; Roberto De La Torre (11-12) and Aaron Lopresti (13-17).

While I haven’t really read any Ms Marvel before, I didn’t feel too lost. Granted I am still unsure of what her power set really is, I really liked the dynamic between her and her companions. Carol is a strong female character and while, yes, her off time is spent going on the mysterious Mr. Wagner I love that she has doubts that this guy wants to date her because she’s Carol and not because she is Ms. Marvel. I think that is interesting question that is posed. Does he like the woman or the superhero and cant he like both?

It has a nice blend of letting me to get to know some new characters that I have not been introduced to before and the plot blends everything from zombies to your traditional drag out fights. The Cliffhanger ending made me want to read more and grab Volume 4 the next time I hit the bookstore. I also really liked having A.I.M. in there as the baddies.

Things I didn’t love so much: Some of the art style wasn’t exactly my cup of tea though Carol’s got some great hair I must say and while yes I feel like I wasn’t too lost, I really do feel like I should have started with Volume 1.

Buy or Borrow: Borrow. This may not be the best place for newbies to start, but I was pleased enough that I want to read more.

Part of: A series. Start with Best of the Best

3.25 out of 4 happy bibliosnark bookmarks 

The Fault in our Stars: A Review

The Fault in Our Stars
Written by: John Green
Paperback: 324 pages
Publisher: Harper Collins
Language: English
May 2011
Genre: Fiction/Young Adult

Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel's story is about to be completely rewritten.

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

Sometimes I like to cry. No real good reason. Just cause. I have a collection of books and movies that get the tears started. For movies it is tragic love stories (Solomon and Gaenor, Kama Sutra A Tale of Love, the Notebook, Evening) and apparently the same goes for books. What is it about the tragic love story that we just eat up. They are sad. They make me cry (Eponine in Les Mis, Miss Saigon’s Kim and Chris). A lot. But I completely eat them up. They are my excuse.

Now I knew author John Green and already had a little bitty crush on him via Mental Floss and Nerdfighters. But for some reason I just never got around to reading his books. Not sure why. Everyone talks about the Fault in Our Stars, so I should probably get around to reading it. So I did. It was my lunch break book where I would hole up in my office and read to my heart’s content. Which is great until you find yourself sobbing in your office and your coworker thinks that something is seriously wrong. Nope just a book, you say as you emerge puffy and red eyed. Damn book. Now the fact that the book made me cry should not surprise you. It is after all a book about kids with cancer.

Hazel Grace knows that she is dying, maybe not tomorrow or the next day, but eventually her lungs are going to give out. She tries not to get close to anyone as she feels like grenade, one day she will explode and obliterate those around her. Then she meets Augustus Waters at her Cancer Kid Support Group who apparently not only finds her oxygen tank sexy, but her as well. They bond over the book An Imperial Affliction and discover that sometimes, when you least expect it, love happens.

Things I loved: Miss Hazel Grace, our intrepid narrator is awesome. She is snarky. She is honest. She has her faults, but you love her anyway. She is a fangirl and funny and thoughtful and when she loves…oh dear god. More than that I can relate to her. I could relate to pushing people away or having people distance themselves from you. I didn’t have cancer. I was just an air force brat and never around for long. Why get to know people if you are only going to be there for six months.

All of the characters matter from Hazel’s best friend who shows how quite often the living distance themselves from the dying, parents who do their best to give their children everything and how children cannot fathom the loss or understand what their parents are going through. Gus, Isaac, Van Houten…they all matter. They all have something to say. I cannot imagine what it is like to have a terminal illness, to be choked with sympathy from others. But somehow I can understand Hazel’s resentment. It is a heavy thing to deal with.

Speaking of character love…I love Gus. I love him because even in the shadow of death and all of the guilt and loss and hopelessness that Hazel sometimes felt, he gave her a reason to live. Not just because they fell in love, but he showed her how much beauty there is in the world. Living is worth it. Plus he woos Hazel with Max Mayhem one-liners and a gentle grace that is just awesome.

How much love can you fit in a short life? On one hand you will always be forever in the honeymoon period, that space where you still get butterflies every time you meet. This is the one great love of your life. This is it. The one. The one that makes your heart all aflutter. The one you swear will last forever. There won’t be fights about dirty laundry or unpaid bills. It won’t get stagnant. But it also won’t last forever. You won’t get to grow old together, to realize that sometimes those stupid fights make things stronger. And that relationships are hard work, but worth it. So so worth it. There won’t be a wedding or domestic bliss. There won’t be kids or furry kids to spend your time with. That is the part that just guts me. Too soon. Not enough time. Then again, do we ever get enough time even if our bodies aren’t riddled with cancer. Isn’t it better to stuff every glorious moment into each day because tomorrow this is it. There are no second chances. Time wastes you, so you better well use it.

Things I didn’t love so much: It made me cry. Like heaving sobs, thank goodness my office door is closed sobs. And I was expecting it damn it. Seriously the feels. Damn it. But I wouldn’t trade away one salty tear. It was worth it. Even if a coworker had to check in on me and make sure everything was okay. Yep. Fine, just a book. Damn book. Glorious book.

Buy or Borrow: Buy. I am glad I got to glimpse and share Hazel and Gus’s story – their love, their loss, their strength, their weakness, and the honesty of it all. You only get one chance to live, so you better do something with it.

Part of: Stand Alone

Also Recommended: If I Stay by Gayle Forman, Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher, The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky, Looking for Alaska by John Green and Just Listen by Sarah Dessen.

4 out of 4 happy bibliosnark bookmarks 

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Divergent: A Review

Divergent
Directed By: Neil Burger
Written By: Vanessa Taylor, Evan Daugherty
Genre:ACTION/ADVENTURE
Rated: PG 13
Time: 139 min
Starring: Shailene Woodley, Theo James, Ashley Judd, Jai Courtney, Ray Stevenson, Zoё Kravitz, Miles Teller, Tony Goldwyn, Ansel Elgort, Maggie Q, Mekhi Phifer, Kate Winslet
Plot: Set in a futuristic dystopia where society is divided into five factions that each represent a different virtue, teenagers have to decide if they want to stay in their faction or switch to another - for the rest of their lives. Tris Prior makes a choice that surprises everyone. Then Tris and her fellow faction-members have to live through a highly competitive initiation process to live out the choice they have made. They must undergo extreme physical and intense psychological tests, that transform them all. But Tris has a secret that she is Divergent, which means she doesn't fit into any one group. If anyone knew, it would mean a certain death. As she discovers a growing conflict that threatens to unravel her seemingly perfect society, this secret might help her save the people she loves... or it might destroy her.

Comments: I was not really looking forward to this movie. But E really wanted to go, surprisingly really since he chided me for days on dragging him to the first Hunger Games movie which I couldn’t blame him for as it was bad, bad, bad ( Catching Fire was however done right). So here comes another trilogy that I really liked. All I can think when I see the trailers during every single close up shot is there is no way Tris would wear that much mascara when she was still part of Abnegation. I couldn’t believe her as Tris. Couldn’t get into the character. But I am glad that E dragged me to it (I would have rather seen Need for Speed…that was how reluctant I was).

Shailene Woodley as Tris was still not a perfect fit for me. In the book Tris is constantly described as being this tiny little thing. That is why people constantly underestimate her. Christina is kind of a protector, but Zoe Kravitz is far smaller than Shailene. It doesn’t matter in the end because Shailene does a decent job as Tris. And in fact, the movie overall stayed pretty close to the book. There are changes, as there always are and it was really only two things that bugged me Christina not getting the flag which is kind of important since it shows that sometimes being selfless will get you nowhere and shows that Christina has a bit of a competitive streak.

While the film is pretty heavy on the exposition and like I said I know they had to change some things and others will be inevitably changed, I did like the extra Jeanine stuff. She has more of a role than Jeanine in the book and I am okay with it because, well…its Kate Winslet and I heart her to pieces. But I also get a bigger sense of Jeanine. She truly believes she is doing the right thing for her society no matter what the cost. She had complexity and while, yes, still a villain, I liked her.

And of course Four. That is the Four I wanted. It’s the Four I fell in love with for two books and then sort of fell out of love with in the last book, but that is a whole other story. He doesn’t want to save Tris, he knows she is quite capable and that is why he loves her. He loves that she is selfless as much as she is brave. They are equals and partners and that is a love I can completely get behind.

It was a pretty film to watch and I kind of dug the fear landscape scenes. I really loved the Soundtrack and score. The score is a collaboration of Hans Zimmer and his mighty orchestrals of awesome and Junkie XL. It didn’t detract, it was just really good and quickly bought shortly after.

My biggest gripe, by far, was Peter. Instead of being pure evil (to be honest I don’t really recall seeing Edward and there is certainly no eye stabbing scene which is important…it shows just to what lengths Peter is willing to go to not only to be number one, but to be the next Eric. Plus hello Edward becomes Factionless and they meet up with him later), he’s just a jerk. Okay maybe a jerk who tries to throw Tris over a ledge with his sycophants, but mostly just a jerk. A jerk that tags along in the end. Umm, not the spawn of Satan. This was extremely disappointing as it kind of has a big deal with his overall character development between the 3 books.

Overall it was a decent film and one that I am glad that I saw in the theatre. Best line:
Peter: “Why should I tell you, it’s not like you’re going to shoot me.”
Tris: “Why do people keep saying that?”
* shoots him *

Rent/Cinema?See it.

3/4 popcorns

Saturday, April 19, 2014

World War Z: A Review

World War Z
Written by: Max Brooks
Audiobook: Read by a Full Cast
Length: 12 hrs 8 min
Publisher: Random House Audio
Language: English
May 2013
Genre: Fiction/Zombies

World War Z: The Complete Edition (Movie Tie-in Edition): An Oral History of the Zombie War is a new version of Max Brooks' episodic zombie novel. The abridged versions of the original stories are now joined with new, unabridged recordings of the episodes that were not included in the original (abridged) version of the audiobook. These additional episodes feature a star-studded cast of narrators to coincide with the upcoming release of the film.

New narrators include Academy Award-winning director Martin Scorsese, Spiderman star Alfred Molina, The Walking Dead creator Frank Darabont, rapper Common, Firefly star Nathan Fillion, Shaun of the Dead's Simon Pegg, and members of the casts of Star Trek, Battlestar Galactica, Heroes and more! Max Brooks will be reprising his role as The Interviewer.

The original abridged edition, released in 2006, won an Audie Award for Best Multi-Voiced Performance. Original cast members include Alan Alda, Mark Hamill, Carl & Rob Reiner, and John Turturro.

In this new classic of apocalyptic fiction that feels all too real, the Zombie War came unthinkably close to eradicating humanity. The documentary-style oral history records the testimony of men, women, and sometimes children who came face-to-face with the living, or at least the undead, hell of that dreadful time.

Featuring five more hours of previously unrecorded content, this full-cast recording is read by F. Murray Abraham, Alan Alda, René Auberjonois, Becky Ann Baker, Dennis Boutsikaris, Bruce Boxleitner, Max Brooks, Nicki Clyne, Common, Denise Crosby, Frank Darabont, Dean Edwards, Mark Hamill, Nathan Fillion, Maz Jobrani, Frank Kamai, Michelle Kholos, John McElroy, Ade M’Cormack, Alfred Molina, Parminder Nagra, Ajay Naidu, Masi Oka, Steve Park, Kal Penn, Simon Pegg, Jürgen Prochnow, Carl Reiner, Rob Reiner, Henry Rollins, Jeri Ryan, Jay O. Sanders, Martin Scorsese, Paul Sorvino, David Ogden Stiers, Brian Tee, John Turturro, Eamonn Walker, Ric Young, and Waleed Zuaiter.


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

I really love zombies, most of you know this by now. And I love Max Brooks for writing World War Z. The great thing about World War Z is how real it feels. Similar to War of the Worlds, you can imagine that it has happened and we are now reading the history of how it all went down, survivor’s stories, and what we have done to rebuild our society once the dust has settled. While yes it is a history of the Zombie War, you can take out the zombies and insert another apocalyptic disaster quite easily. That is what makes it great.

After the horridness that was the film (damn you for not letting J. Michael Straczynski’s script stand. Damn you for ruining it) they came out with a new audio version of the book which adds about six hours more of amazing stories performed by Simon Pegg, Nathan Fillion, Jeri Ryan, Martin Scorcese and more. While it is still an abridged version of the overall book, it is completely worth your time and your money.

For those of you who have not read the book, Max Brooks compiles the history of the successful war against the zombie hordes after the government report he has written is all but cleansed of everything but the bare facts. In an effort to get a human perspective he travels the world from China to India to gather personal stories about key pints, events, and moments of World War Z. You have stories of heroism and of villainy, joy out of something so bleak and absolute tragedy. There are stories about you would do to survive and questions on if war makes you just as bad as the very thing you are fighting against. This makes the overall book feel real as if we are all survivors of the war against the undead. This isn’t about the war itself, but about those who survived and fought. It’s about their stories, a very human piece amidst the undead. We don’t get to find out how the zombies started or how they function. The zombies are just a way for the various characters to tell their stories. Of course when you add amazing stage and screen actors and voice actors into the audio version and it feels even more real and genuine. Which again makes it a total shame that the movie shares the title of the book and not really anything more.

Things I loved: This is a book for all fans. I even got my father to read it and that is saying something and he is the furthest thing from a zombie fan. The voice performances are amazing. Since I have reviewed World War Z before and the abridged audiobook, I am just going to touch on the new material. The performances continue to amaze and I really feel as if many of the actors become the characters they are reading. Nathan Fillion reads the account of Stanley MacDonald, a Canadian soldier who witnesses a horrible zombie slaughter and is suffering from some pretty bad PTSD. Dismissed by his superior officers, his tale is wracked with emotion. Nathan does an amazing job of keeping that emotion controlled, but you can hear it threatening to break. Of course I may be bias as I have loved Fillion since Two Guys, A Girl and a Pizza Place, but he really does bring the character to life.

Nicki Clynes of BSG fame reads Sharon, a young woman who witnessed such tragedy that she is perpetually a four year old. The story is so completely heart-wrenching. She does an amazing job. Kal Penn and an almost unrecognizable Simon Pegg do great jobs as well. I also liked Jeri Ryan’s story. I could go on really about the performances. While yes there are some misses, but mostly because the stories themselves are not the strongest and often bogged down by too much exposition and not enough of the human voice.

Things I didn’t love so much: Yeah I got nothing

Full Cast Credits
Max Brooks as Max Brooks
Nicki Clyne as Sharon
Bruce Boxleitner as Gavin Blaire
Simon Pegg as Grover Carlson
Brian Tee as Hyungchoi and Michael Choi
Henry Rollins as T. Sean Collins
Frank Darabont as Roy Elliot
Common as Darnell Hackworth
Kal Penn as Sardar Khan
Alfred Molina as Terry Knox
David Ogden Stiers as Bohdan Taras Kondratiuk
Nathan Fillion as Stanley MacDonald
Denise Crosby as Mary Jo Miller
Ade M’Cormack as Jacob Nyathi
Paul Sorvino as Fernando Oliveira
Parminder Nagra as Barati Palshigar
Rene Auberjonois as Andre Renard
F. Murray Abraham as Father Sergei Ryzhkov
Martin Scorsese as Breckinridge “Breck” Scott
Masi Oka as Kondo Tatsumi
Ric Young as Admiral Xu Zhicai
Jeri Ryan as Maria Zhuganova
Alan Alda as Arthur Sinclair
Carl Reiner as Jurgen Warbrunn
Jürgen Prochnow as Philip Adler
Waleed Zuiater as Saladin Kader
Dean Edwards as Joe Muhammad
Michelle Kholos as Jesika Hendricks
Maz Jobrani as Ahmed Farahnakian
Mark Hamill as Todd Wainio
Eamonn Walker as David Allen Forbes and Paul Redeker / Xolelwa Azania
Ajay Naidu as Ajay Shah
John Turturro as Serosha Garcia Alvarez
Rob Reiner as “The Whacko”
Jay O. Sanders as Bob Archer
Dennis Boutsikaris as General Travis D’Ambrosia
Becky Ann Baker as Christina Eliopolis
Steve Park as Kwang Jingshu
Frank Kamai as Nury Televadi and Tomonaga Jiro
John McElroy as Ernesto Olguin

Buy or Borrow: Buy. So worth it.

Part of: Standalone

Also Recommended: For more zombies I would recommend actually reading the full novel of World War Z by Max Brooks, The Walking Dead comic series by Robert Kirkman, and the Zombie Survival Guide also by Max Brooks. Feed by Mira Grant, Patient Zero by Jonathan Mayberry, Infected by Scott Sigler, and Rot And Ruin also by Jonathan Mayberry. Yeah zombies.

4 out of 4 happy bibliosnark bookmarks 

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Journey to the West: A Review

Journey to the West: Conquering the Demons
Directed By: Stephen Chow
Written By: Stephen Chow
Genre:ACTION/ADVENTURE
Rated: PG 13
Time: 110 min
Starring: Qi Shu, Zhang Wen, Bo Huang, Lo Show
Plot: This is a world plagued by demons, who cause its human inhabitants unspeakable suffering. Young demon hunter Xuan Zang, fearlessly guided by his belief in "giving himself for the greater cause," risks his all and conquers a water demon, a pig demon and the demon of all demons, Sun Wukong. He embraces them as his disciples, and melts them with love. Meanwhile, Xuan Zang discovers the true meaning of Greater Love himself. In order to atone for their own sins and save the common people, the four of them embark on a journey to the West that's full of challenges…

Comments: Journey to the West follows the story of Xuan Zang, a young Buddhist monk eager to prove himself as a worthy demon hunter. Instead of using his fists, Zang uses an old book of nursery rhymes that is said to awaken the goodness within the hearts of those conquered by evil. Unsuccessful in his efforts, Xuan meets a strong, beautiful demon hunter named Miss Duan who uses brute force to defeat demons, and so far it has been working for her quite well. In his efforts to unlock his own hidden power, Xuan decides to join Miss Duan on her journey to vanquish other demons and rid the world of evil.

I really love Stephen Chow. Shaolin and Kung Fu Hustle are just fun to watch. When we saw that you could get Journey to the West off of Xbox movies Eben and I were quite pleased as we had found nothing of interest at the local rental place. Journey to the West: Conquering the Demons is, as you can guess, is a comedic retelling of the Chinese folktale. It has action. It has humor. And even a bit of romance. I knew a little about Journey to the West so I was expecting Monkey King to show up eventually as well as his two other companions. The CGI can be sketchy at times, but it is a fun little romp half live action anime, half looney tunes. Completely worth it in my opinion if you like his other films.

Rent/Cinema?If you are like me and have access to the Xbox films definitely rent it. It was worth it.

3.5/4 popcorns

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Loot Crate: Geeky Subscription boxes

So I have heard about subscription boxes from Birchbox and Glossybox. And as girlie as I am I don’t know if it is my thing (I could be very happily surprised), but I love the idea behind subscription boxes. I was also trying to find something for E for our anniversary (2 years) so I decided to try something a little different and indulge our nerdy sides because let’s face it what he loots, I loot too. So I decided to get a subscription to Loot Crate. What exactly is it? Each month they curate a collection of nerdy things fitting a particular theme. March was Titan. Of course E has been playing the hell out of Titanfall and our friend Meghan got us hooked on Attack on Titan (highly recommended) which were two of the main themes. Starting next month I will be a good little nerdy goddess, document our loot, and convince you all to try it for yourselves. Seriously it makes me want to do so many more subscription boxes but I haven’t a clue where to start. Why wouldn’t you do them, a box of goodies sent to your place every month. Whoo hoo.

Anyway, this is what E got for March (All estimations on price are what I could grab from other retailers):

* A Titanfall T-shirt : ooh a shirt that the designers wore in all of those coming soon videos you watched during its Beta release with the figure of a pilot and the silhouette of the Titan. It’s a Respawn/EA and Lootcarte exclusive so E was uber excited. ($20 value though not really cause exclusive)

* Attack on Titan Manga: One of our new obsessions thanks to our friend Meghan. This is the manga that starts it all. For those who haven’t watched the anime (It’s on Netflix) or read the manga. What's left of humanity survives in fear for their lives in this exciting, terrifying new manga that's a number one bestseller in Japan. Humankind is down to just a few thousand people who live in a city surrounded by three concentric walls. The walls protect them from their enemies, the ravenous giants known as the Titans. The Titans appear to have only one purpose: to consume humanity. For one hundred years, what's left of mankind has lived in the city on earth, protected by walls that tower over even the Titans. Untouched by the Titans for a century, humanity has become complacent. But Eren Jaeger has had enough. While his fellow citizens are content to hide, Jaeger has the passion to take action to not only protect the city, but to learn what the Titans actually are. But on his first mission he comes face to face with horrors beyond his imagination... and secrets from his own past that could shift the tides of war. ($11)

* Titanfall Lanyard & Titanfall Strategy Guide: Again E was super excited. As he has been playing Titanfall quite a bit the Strategy Guide was totally worth it and we could always use more lanyards. Plus the lanyard is a custom design based on the console and controller. (Lanyard and Guide ~ $15)

* Attack on Titanfall Magnet : This is seriously awesome. Featuring artwork that has members of the regiment from Attack on Titan attacking a Titan from Titanfall. Beautiful mashup. E was wishing he had more than just a magnet he loved the artwork so much. ($5)

* Attack on Titan Scouting Regiment Wristband: Loot Crate suggested E wear this while thinking of other Looters who got amazing gear as well as they all search for the best gear. Can’t blame them, it is a pretty sweet wristband. And with our new obsession with Attack on Titan oh so fitting to our nerdy collection. ($5)

The crate also came with some candy, a handy guide that talks a little about the month’s theme and the gear that you happily scored, a lootcrate button, and a 30% coupon to some gaming gear. Subscriptions cost about $20 and we looted approximately $50 worth of goodies so well worth your time and money. Also loot! In all for our first box we were pretty psyched and cannot wait for this month’s theme (DRAGON).

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Nightwalker: A Review

Nightwalker (Dark Days #1)
Written by: Jocelynn Drake
Paperback: 370 pages
Publisher: Eos
Language: English
July 2008
Genre: Urban Fantasy/Dark Days Series

For centuries Mira has been a nightwalker--an unstoppable enforcer for a mysterious organization that manipulates earth-shaking events from the darkest shadows. But elemental mastery over fire sets her apart from others of her night-prowling breed . . . and may be all that prevents her doom.

The foe she now faces is human: the vampire hunter called Danaus, who has already destroyed so many undead. For Mira, the time has come to hunt . . . or be hunted.


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

At the beginning of the year I told myself I was not allowed to buy any new books until I went through at least one bin of To Be Read Books. That is right. I have bins. I have 5 of them to be exact with books I have yet to read. And if E and I move again I want that number to be 0, or maybe just 1. So I need to get a-cracking. Especially since there are some really great books coming out soon. While I don’t post a review on every single book I read, I do try to do the majority.

As I have gone through my TBR pile number one, I am realizing that I read a ton of urban fantasy and not a lot else. This is troubling for me. While I love my little niche genre, I just love to read period. I should branch out more. I say this because I think I might be getting bored with urban fantasy. I keep reading the same thing. It’s just different names and slightly different plots. I’m not seeing anything truly new and original. I am just looking for a bit more variety and a lot more substance. I want to be able to tell characters apart. I want to be able to tell authors apart. And by the gods…no more vampires or if you do please do something interesting with them.

Drake tried to be original with Nightwalker not only through her character of Mira, but the world as a whole. Mira is six hundred years old and change and the current enforcer of her territory in Savannah. She also has quite the reputation as she pyrokinetic and has earned the title Firestarter for good reason. When vampire hunter Danaus shows up in town, he also brings the nature with him. A few centuries ago these nature imprisoned and tortured Mira and while she doesn’t know the exact details, she knows that having them resurface is dangerous indeed. The naturi are seeking a way to break out of their supernatural prison and unlike previous attempts, they’re close to succeeding. If they are going to succeed both Mira and Danaus are going to have to work together. No problem, right?

Things I loved: Mira is an interesting character. Not exactly likable as she comes off fairly bitchy, arrogant and occasionally cruel. But as the story goes along you realize that she has some pretty layers. She suffers from some pretty deep PTSD from her time with the Naturi and it still haunts her. Thank you for making a character who goes through some fairly extreme events to have to deal with the aftermath. So often life and death situations happen in every book or story and the lead character throws it off like it was just another day at the office. Mira also cares about her bodyguards (though really doesn’t need them). She has vulnerability and she makes mistakes. Danaus tries to be his own character as well and begins as a vampire hating hunter and through his time with Mira realizes that not everything is so black and white. Plus I really do want to know more about him and who and what he really is. His budding romance with Mira is also nice because it wasn’t love at first sight as it happens so often of late. For once it might actually take some time so kudos there.

The Naturi (elemental) and Bori (demons and angels) are interesting races in the overall world building. Similar to the fae, the Naturi control elements and have been trying to escape imprisonment for some time. The Bori are all but absent though vampires side with the bori while werewolves would fall under the control of the Naturi. This is great stuff. Interesting and different. Which is why I was so disappointed when both the plot and the lead characters failed to be interesting and different, which brings us to….

Things I didn’t love so much: Oh look another strong woman who apparently has a small harem of men who love her, adore her, hate and love her at the same time, etc. Boring. Don’t go the Anita Blake route please. Have some female characters. Have a woman who doesn’t have a bevy of hot guys clamoring about her. Or I don’t know, how about one guy. It is just so Mary Sue and annoying as hell. What happened to having girlfriends or one lover. How about not everyone likes you? That would be interesting. Harem of guys not interesting.

It was extremely slow to start and the pacing was uneven. Whoa on the exposition. While it was still a fairly quick read, the pacing and narrative flaws that became fairly apparent with Mira’s point of view made it a little rollercoaster-y for me.

I hate that this is very obviously the first in a series. I have said it before but I miss one shots. I miss having a complete story in one book. Hell I will even take trilogies, but books that go 3 and more are quite often unsatisfying. I almost want to take away a happy bookmark just because of it. It is an incomplete story, but not enough of the good stuff for me to really invest in reading more which is unfortunate.

Buy or Borrow: Borrow. While there were some decent attempts at originality, I fear that it was not enough. Plus I just cannot afford a new series.

Part of: A Series
Book One: Nightwalker
Book two: Dayhunter
Book Three: Dawnbreaker
Book Four: Pray for Dawn
Book Five: Wait for Dusk


Also Recommended: Storm Born by Richelle Mead, Ill Wind by Rachel Caine, Magic Bites by Ilona Andrews, Mercy Thompson by Patricia Briggs, and Toby Daye series by Seanan McGuire.

2.5 out of 4 happy bibliosnark bookmarks 

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Disappearing Nightly: A Review

Disappearing Nightly
Written by: Laura Resnick
Paperback: 408 pages
Publisher: Luna Books
Language: English
November 2006
Genre: Urban Fantasy/Esther Diamond Series #1

I'm not a heroine -- I just play one.

Also psychotics, vamps, orphans, hookers, housewives and -- on one memorable occasion -- a singing rutabaga. It was never my ambition to utilize my extensive dramatic training by playing a musical vegetable. However, as my agent is fond of pointing out, there are more actors in New York than there are people in most other cities. Translation: Beggars can't be choosers.

This explains how I wound up painting my body green and prancing around stage half-naked the night Golly Gee, the female lead in the off-broadway show "Sorcerer!" disappeared into thin air. Literally.

Now other performers are also vanishing, and a mysterious stranger is warning me: There is evil among us. But the producers want me to take over Golly's part.

Looks like I'm going to need a little magical help if I want to keep my starring role . . .


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

I have never been one for too much fluff. I am the girl who would rather watch an action movie or a horror film than watch a romantic comedy. I stay away from the beach reads and reality tv. I want substance. I want characters I like, instead of ones I despise. I want smart women who save themselves and by god I want some decent prose.

When I write reviews I always try to find something redeeming about a book. Not every book is going to inspire me or give me something I can relate to, but usually I can find a decent plot or maybe a character I like. Sometimes it’s some great dialogue. I hate to give up on a book. I love books. Someone put their heart into something and this is their imagination in paper form. Books smell nice. They feel nice and they take me on journeys and vacations.

But sometimes, just sometimes you just have to shake your head and wish you had a nice vacation from your “vacation”. Sometimes you want your 3 hours back. I know that I am not the only one out there who sometimes finds it really hard to get to the last page, who wants to write in the books with red pen, and who tries really hard to find one redeeming quality. This was one of those books.

Esther is a 20 something stage actress trying to make it big but failing as a wood nymph in a play called Sorcerer. Luckily she is the understudy to Golly Gee who character Virtue is the other lead. When Golly Gee disappears during one of the magic acts in the play, Esther becomes the new lead. Everything should be great right? Well it would be if it wasn’t for the warnings that she is next if she goes into the Crystal Cage just like Golly Gee. More magical acts across the city are also missing key performers. Also Evil is afoot.

Dr. Maximillian Zadok is a member of a secret society called Magnum Collegium. The Collegium keeps the supernatural community in check. With Esther’s help the two try to track down who is behind the disappearances and maybe just maybe Esther can keep her job.

Things I loved: I enjoyed the cover. I think that is why I picked it up in the first place. And you have to admit the cast of characters ranges from Drag Queens to Demons. The author also tried to do her best to bring something new to a genre that is full of vampires and werewolves. Unfortunately these are really the only things going for it. Which brings me to what I didn’t like.

Things I didn’t love so much: Esther is an idiot. Snarky = check, though mostly it comes off as bitchy. Delightfully spunky or a gal with moxie she is not. Clueless = check. I wanted to like her, really I did. Her mom keeps nagging for her to just settle down with nice boy and have lots of babies instead of continuing to struggle as an actress. Trust me I completely relate to that part, except sometimes it’s my father and he constantly thinks that every job I do is beneath me. But that is about all I relate to. Oh dear goddess, Esther is like a four year old after eating a giant pixistik, though to be honest so is everyone else including the supposedly smart ones like the Detective and Zadok. Their attention spans are about…ooh look a squirrel.

I didn’t buy the romance. Not sure what either one sees in the other. And the forced comedic scenes…egads. I just didn’t get it. A coffee joke is funny…not when it lasts 20 pages. A Quirky joke about your job also funny but again not when it lasts an entire chapter. It was all just so over the top.

Of course we have our dealbreaker…rape. It happens, but it should never be funny. And I felt like it was supposed to be the ironic guffaw (You see our villain wants all of the power so he conjures a demon to give him said awesomeness. But the demon expects payment, a pretty little virgin he can defile to his heart’s content. Esther realizes that our villain is a virgin and hands him over to the demon. Insert laugh track or happy little smirk since he got his just desserts). Nope not funny and neither was the rest of the book. Ergh. Seriously if I met Esther on the street I think I’d trip her. Put this way, far far away.

Buy or Borrow: Borrow. If you are bored and have nothing else to do.There are much better Luna books out there.

Part of: A Series


Also Recommended: Storm Born by Richelle Mead, Ill Wind by Rachel Caine, Magic Bites by Ilona Andrews, and Hard Magic by Laura Ann Gilman.

1.25 out of 4 happy bibliosnark bookmarks