Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Shadowhunters TV Show…Is There Hope?

Let me just start by saying that I LOVE the Moral Instruments books series.  And I LOVE Infernal Devices.  And I actually really liked the movie (except for the changes in some main plot points and the actor who played Jace didn't have the right look). But this series is BAD.  And I keep watching it.  I keep hoping it will get better and it doesn't.  

Here's why it's really bad:
1.  The acting.  It's HORRIBLE.  I mean, it may be the worst acting I've ever seen.  It's so overly dramatic and over the top.

2.  The casting (and look) of certain characters.  Isabelle is sort of skanky (although this last episode it looks like she's changing her look…thank you!) and what is up with Jace's hair?  The actress who plays Clary has the right look and actually has her whininess down, but she's the worst of the bunch as far as her acting skills, which is saying a lot.  Simon has the right look as well, but he's getting on my nerves (although that's probably true to the book as well).  Alec is getting better.

3.  Special effects.  The whole thing is ridiculous, with the special effects almost laughably bad.

4.  The plot.  Why is it following the book (sort of)?  When I first heard about the series, I just figured it would be like Buffy the Vampire Slayer and have the Shadowhunters going week to week fighting demons.  Wouldn't that have been better?  

I had such high hopes for this series.  Really disappointed.


So Pam tell us how you really feel about the series!  While I pretty much agree with Pam's critiques, I am STILL optimistic that the series will improve.  In fact, I have seen some improvements in the last two episodes.  What's changed you might ask? 

Magnus Bane has ARRIVED.  Harry Shum Jr. (yes Mike Chang from Glee) plays Magnus. Even though his performance can be a bit over the top I can't help but love Magnus and I love the way they are developing the relationship between Magnus and Alec.  It's subtle and charming and utterly Alec and Magnus!

The parents are back.  One of the bold casting differences I definitely admire is the decision to cast Isaiah Mustafa as Luc Galloway.  That's right, he's  African American!   While Luc's role in the first 4 episodes was pretty minor it has grown dramatically and he is doing an excellent job in my opinion.  In addition to Luc, the Lightwoods are also back from Idris and have added some interesting twists to the story  line or at least brought out some new tensions I don't remember from the books. Having the parents back seems to have improved the abilities of the younger actors and adds some more depth to the story line.

Even though many of the young actors are a bit over the top, I would like to give a round of applause to the cast diversity.  On the other hand, I would really appreciate toning down the shaming of Isabelle.  I have no problem with the decision to make her comfortable with her sexuality but I don't understand why every episode then has to shame her for the thing that we are supposed to admire about her.  Frankly it's confusing for me and I'm a grown adult so I can only imagine how confusing it can be for the younger viewers. 

At the end of the day I am still excited when the new episode is released on Tuesday nights and I sincerely hope the series is picked up for next year but I completely agree that it needs a lot of work!   

What do you think?  Are you watching the show?  Do you like it?  Dislike it?  Think it has hope? 

Friday, February 19, 2016

Book Review: These Vicious Masks by Tarun Shanker and Kelly Zekas

These Vicious Masks (These Vicious Masks #1)
Authors:  Tarun Shanker and Kelly Zekas
Publisher:  Swoon Reads, 320 pages
Publication Date:  February 9, 2016

From Goodreads:
Jane Austen meets X-­Men in this gripping and adventure-­filled paranormal romance set in Victorian London.

England, 1882. Evelyn is bored with society and its expectations. So when her beloved sister, Rose, mysteriously vanishes, she ignores her parents and travels to London to find her, accompanied by the dashing Mr. Kent. But they’re not the only ones looking for Rose. The reclusive, young gentleman Sebastian Braddock is also searching for her, claiming that both sisters have special healing powers. Evelyn is convinced that Sebastian must be mad, until she discovers that his strange tales of extraordinary people are true—and that her sister is in graver danger than she feared.

I admit, I read this book because of the Jane Austen meets X-Men description.  And while it's accurate, this book was disappointing.  Basically, it's pretty silly even though some horrible things happen.  It's like the authors were trying to be funny but it just didn't work.  Evelyn was supposed to be sassy but I didn't like her.  And the two guys…they have potential, but I wasn't in love with either one of them.  

Entertaining and fun, but…just ok.

Posted by:  Pam

Monday, February 15, 2016

Book Review: Pull by Anne Riley

Author:  Anne Riley
Publisher:  Spencer Hill Press, 424 pages
Publication Date:  February 2, 2016

From Goodreads:
Rosie Clayton witnesses a mugging on her first night in London—and then the scene rewinds itself.

She finds herself standing in the same place again, with the mugging happening just like before, except this time a stranger steps in and stops it. There's no way the same incident can have two outcomes. Rosie thinks she’s losing her mind, until just a few days later, the stranger saves her.

The stranger, Albert, and his band of misfit crime-fighters, have the special ability to Pull, which allows them to rewind just enough time to undo a recent event. Someone is hunting Albert and his crew– and now that Rosie’s been seen with them, she’s a target too. Rosie is left with no choice but to trust Albert to keep her safe.

As Rosie learns more about this unbelievable ability and the people – if you can call them that – who want them dead, she discovers that the group’s desire for her blood might be more than mere coincidence. Each step into this magical side of London introduces Rosie to a family history that she never knew existed, and dangerous forces that could unravel her world in an instant.

Her family may be the reason they’re all being hunted—and she may be the only one who can figure out how to save them. Sure, between the lot of them, they have a few shots to get it right. The thing about Pulling, though, is you have to be alive to do it.

Pretty good.  Loved the concept, the pulling.  Everyone travels back in time, not just the people who have the power, which gets rid of a lot of the time traveling issues with some books I've read.  And I liked the idea that they could combine their pulling to go back further and further in time.  

My biggest complaint is just that I wanted MORE.  More with Albert and Rosie. More about the evil group…that was not well fleshed out AT ALL.  More about the other pullers, more about Rosie's abilities.  So many questions, it just seemed like a lot of this book skimmed the surface of things.   

Rosie's family.  Now while I appreciate the fact that they were present (which is lacking is a lot of YA books), they were SO ANNOYING.  And sort of pointless (except for the brother, who I had no sympathy for at all, I really didn't like him). Here's an example.  Apparently Rosie's dad has temper tantrums and goes into rages.  Why?  No idea.  Anything ever done with that?  No.  Was it ever really talked about or resolved?  No.  That's the sort of thing that bothered me throughout the book.  

And the ending…wraps things up but it all felt so rushed and easy.

Basically, this book had all sorts of potential but it was lacking.

Posted by:  Pam

Friday, February 12, 2016

Book Review: Starflight by Melissa Landers

Starflight (Starflight #1)
Author:  Melissa Landers
Publisher:  Disney-Hyperion, 358 pages
Publication Date:  February 2, 2016

From Goodreads:
Life in the outer realm is a lawless, dirty, hard existence, and Solara Brooks is hungry for it. Just out of the orphanage, she needs a fresh start in a place where nobody cares about the engine grease beneath her fingernails or the felony tattoos across her knuckles. She's so desperate to reach the realm that she's willing to indenture herself to Doran Spaulding, the rich and popular quarterback who made her life miserable all through high school, in exchange for passage aboard the spaceliner Zenith.

When a twist of fate lands them instead on the Banshee, a vessel of dubious repute, Doran learns he's been framed on Earth for conspiracy. As he pursues a set of mysterious coordinates rumored to hold the key to clearing his name, he and Solara must get past their enmity to work together and evade those out for their arrest. Life on the Banshee may be tumultuous, but as Solara and Doran are forced to question everything they once believed about their world—and each other—the ship becomes home, and the eccentric crew family. But what Solara and Doran discover on the mysterious Planet X has the power to not only alter their lives, but the existence of everyone in the universe…

LOVED this one.  Reminded me of Firefly, which is a huge compliment.  It definitely had that whole ragtag colorful character crew thing going for it.

Loved the hate to love relationship between Solara and Doran.  So much tension!  

Sci-fi action, adventure, and romance, this was such a FUN read.

My only complaint is how much of a jerk Doran was.  I mean, really.  He grows, but it's hard to forget how truly mean he was to Solara.  And why?  Just because he was a shallow mean jerk.  After I finished the book, I read where the author says she pitched this as "Overboard" meets "Firefly" and that makes so much sense and makes me appreciate Doran's character growth even more.  But when I was reading the book I had a hard time loving his character even though I did love who he becomes.  Not sure how much sense that makes.

And the best part?  A complete story.  No cliffhanger.  The next book in the series is a companion novel focused on different characters.  I wish there were more of these!!

Posted by:  Pam

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Discussion Question: Should Authors Do More to Remind Readers of What Happened in Previous Books in Series?

I don't know about you, but it seems like most books I read these days are part of a series.  And I find it increasingly difficult to keep track of them.  Let's be honest.  I barely remember anything by the time the next book comes out.  But when you're talking about a year in between, I don't think there are that many people who do remember a lot about the previous book.  Why don't authors do more to remind us?  Even when we watch a TV series (if you do it the old-fashioned way of week to week), the new episode starts with "Previously on…"  and recaps what happened.  So apparently we can't remember what happened last week (well, let's face it, a lot of times I don't) but we can remember what happened last year.  Once in a blue moon you have an author who starts off the book with a recap (Karen Marie Moning's Fever series comes to mind) but most of them don't.  And they usually don't remind the reader throughout the book either.  It's as if they expect us to remember everything.  Or perhaps they expect us to reread.  So that's what I do, I reread.  But why should I?  I really think authors should do more to remind readers of what happened in previous books in series, either by providing a recap in the beginning of the book or explaining and reminding us throughout the book, weaving it in somehow.  Especially given that a lot of the series I read are not complete stories that stand on their own but are basically one big story divided into three parts. 

What do you think?

Posted by:  Pam

Monday, February 8, 2016

Book Review: The Dark Days Club by Alison Goodman

The Dark Days Club (Lady Helen #1)
Author:  Alison Goodman
Publisher:  Viking Books for Young Readers, 496 pages
Publication Date:  January 26, 2016

From Goodreads:
London, April 1812. On the eve of eighteen-year-old Lady Helen Wrexhall’s presentation to the queen, one of her family’s housemaids disappears-and Helen is drawn into the shadows of Regency London. There, she meets Lord Carlston, one of the few who can stop the perpetrators: a cabal of demons infiltrating every level of society. Dare she ask for his help, when his reputation is almost as black as his lingering eyes? And will her intelligence and headstrong curiosity wind up leading them into a death trap?

I really enjoyed this:  Demon hunters in Regency London…yes please!

Loved the world Alison Goodman has created, the different types of demons, what happens to the demon hunters when they fight the demons.  

And Lord Carlston…dark but not too dark…what happened to his wife????  Loved his relationship with Helen.

Also enjoyed how the rules of society interfered with demon hunting…poor Lady Helen really had to figure out how to get around that…quite refreshing when usually all of that is ignored (although it could be frustrating too, sometimes I wanted more action and less getting dressed up for parties, etc.).  

Also thought it was realistic that she didn't embrace her calling right away, she really didn't want to be a demon hunter, she just wanted to have the life she was meant to have.

Warning…potential love triangle (I think).

Loved this!!  Reminded me a bit of Infernal Devices, which is about the highest compliment I can give.

Posted by:  Pam

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Book Review: Firstlife by Gena Showalter

Firstlife (Everlife #1)
Author:  Gena Showalter
Publisher:  Harlequin Teen, 480 pages
Expected Publication Date:  February 23, 2016
*ARC received from publisher via NetGalley

From Goodreads:



Tenley “Ten” Lockwood is an average seventeen-year-old girl…who has spent the past thirteen months locked inside the Prynne Asylum. The reason? Not her obsession with numbers, but her refusal to let her parents choose where she’ll live—after she dies.

There is an eternal truth most of the world has come to accept: Firstlife is merely a dress rehearsal, and real life begins after death.

In the Everlife, two realms are in power: Troika and Myriad, longtime enemies and deadly rivals. Both will do anything to recruit Ten, including sending their top Laborers to lure her to their side. Soon, Ten finds herself on the run, caught in a wild tug-of-war between the two realms who will do anything to win the right to her soul. Who can she trust? And what if the realm she’s drawn to isn’t home to the boy she’s falling for? She just has to stay alive long enough to make a decision…

This one was a bit of a mixed bag for me. LOVED the concept, with two different places you could go after your "firstlife." It definitely made me think about what the world would be like if everyone knew for sure there was an afterlife.  Would that lessen how important your first life was?

But I had a lot of questions about the two places, especially that it seemed such a slam dunk which place was good and which place was not. Why was Ten so undecided? Not sure that made sense to me. I mean, come on, one place was in perpetual darkness, the other in light.

And I'm a big Gena Showalter fan (can I just tell you how much I loved Cole Holland from The White Rabbit Chronicles?) but I was a little disappointed with the love interest.  For some reason I wasn't feeling it, but that may be because of ultra high expectations.  Also, I wasn't sure who the love interest was going to be.  There are two guys and you think there's going to be a love triangle, but one ends up being a friend, like a big brother type (no romantic feelings on either side) and the other ends up the love interest.  But it seemed kind of sudden to me, no build up, etc.  It's like suddenly this guy is the brother friend guy and the other one is the love interest. And Ten doesn't spend that much time with either one of them so I never FELT the relationships develop.

Ten is a fantastic main character, the world is interesting, so I will be continuing the series.

Posted by:  Pam