10 April 2014

London Bound

OMG, you're never gonna believe this, unless of course, you follow me on Twitter. If you do then you already know that I'M GOING TO ENGLAND! Like, as in right now.
As we speak I am either in the airport or on a plane and just generally on my way across the pond. I KNOW! And you know what's even cooler? The fact that I'm landing in London ON MY ACTUAL BIRTHDAY! This is a total dream come true!
Do you think they'll notice I'm not one of the natives?
My dad is English so I'm going over for the first time with him to spend some quality time with his side of the family and also to do some sight-seeing. This is also the reasoning behind my lack of posting of late. Between work, prepping for my trip and a recent reading slump, I haven't really had much of a desire to blog. But don't worry! I'm counting on this trip to bring forth some new inspiration (and lots of good reads on the way). I should be back shortly after Easter with some awesome movie/book reviews and new content. 
Until then, I wish you all well and I'll see you soon... I'm off to bag me a cute Prince. Possibly a Duke. Definitely an Earl.

31 March 2014

Audiobook Review: Of Poseidon by Anna Banks

Title: Of Poseidon
Author(s): Anna Banks
Genre(s): Fantasy, Myth, Romance, Young Adult
Publisher/Date: Feiwel & Friends / May 22, 2012
Series: The Syrena Legacy (Book #1)
"Morning tide makes a great companion when you don’t want to be around people. It soothes and comforts and doesn't ask for anything. But the sun does. The higher it gets, the more I am reminded that nothing stops time. There is no escaping it.” -Emma McIntosh
Case Study 
Galen is the prince of the Syrena, sent to land to find a girl he's heard can communicate with fish. Emma is on vacation at the beach. When she runs into Galen—literally, ouch!—both teens sense a connection. But it will take several encounters, including a deadly one with a shark, for Galen to be convinced of Emma's gifts. Now, if he can only convince Emma that she holds the key to his kingdom... (synopsis from Goodreads)

The Game's Afoot
Remember all the reasons I was afraid to read a book about mermaids? Well, remember the time I read a mermaid book and loved it? Yeah. This was not one of those times. I really wanted to enjoy Of Poseidon but the book had too many glaring issues for me to ignore. 

Overt Sexism
While I can appreciate what Banks was trying to accomplish by distinguishing Syrena society from human society, I didn't jive with how the female characters were portrayed. They are just these pretty little things who have no say in what they do or how they get to feel. Rayna, arguably one of the most fierce women in the book, spends all her time fighting "the man" and taking a stand. She's forced to marry Toraf against her will, without consent or even her presence. And what's worse is that in the end, she accepts it all because of a petty manipulation that incites her jealousy. And Emma, who initially backs Rayna, THINKS OF THE PLAN that wins Rayna over! Really?!

Yay, Diversity?
I would love to applaud Banks' use of diversity in this book, but unfortunately, her portrayal of a POC character leaves something to be desired. She had a great opportunity to make Chloe's character count, but instead, we're given a stereotypical shell who meets every cliché there is. SPOILER ALERT: Chloe not only dies in the first several chapters, but she dies in a less than dignified way. Her death is used solely as a device to move the plot forward. It becomes all about Emma and is totally meaningless. Not cool, Banks. Not cool.

An Unsexy Romance
The "swoonworthy" siren, Galen, is supposed to be the walking epitome of sex but I thought he was a complete douchebag. He reminded me a lot of Edward in Twilight with those "serial killer eyes" (yes, that's actually how they're described in the book), his incessant manipulation of Emma, his need for total control and the constant stalking. Seriously? Stalking is NOT sexy! There is not ONE redeemable factor about this guy, except for the fact that he's hot, and I'm sorry, but looks do not make up for a lack in personality. Galen and Emma basically have your run-of-the-mill angsty, teenage romance and I'm not in high school anymore, so I can do without the drama.

Under the Sea --- or Lack Thereof
When I read a mermaid book, I damn well expect to see a lot of the world beneath the sea. Is that really too much to ask? Of Poseidon only gives us small glimpses of the Syrena world and it wasn't enough. It's probably the only redeeming quality about the book and there's very little attention paid to it. Details and world building --- they're pretty important from what I hear. Immerse me under the sea! Also, with regard to the mythology, you do know that Triton was the SON of Posiedon, not his brother, right? Good. Now that we've cleared that up, let's move on...

Watch Your Language!
I really tend to enjoy novels that share a dual POV, which Of Poseidon does, however, there was definitely something off about it here. Banks chose to tell the tale from Emma's first person POV and Galen's third person POV and the change in tense gives the book a choppy, unpolished feel. Grammar. Tense. Structure. All components of a basic English class. Suffice it to say, I know Banks can do better.

Summary Prognosis
This book is everything I feared a mermaid book would be. Of Poseidon was a lackluster story, lacking in any real action or conflict or substance. The characters were unremarkable and in some cases, downright loathesome. Top it off with an unsexy romance and unpolished writing, and let's just say, I'm ready to release this trend back into the sea.

Rating: ½ 

Read It: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Audible
Discuss It: GoodreadsAuthor's Website

18 March 2014

Page & Screen Pairings: For the Rebel

I am a huge lover of dystopias so I was thrilled when my friend Kay requested movie matches for my new favourite dystopian series, Delirium. The world in Delirium, as in most dystopia, is a frightening one. But it also unique. In it, love is a sickness, something to be avoided and feared and cured and our MC, Lena, must decide if freedom and love are worth forsaking her family, her government and the safety of the cure.

Equilibrium: In the nation of Libria, the rules are simple. If you are happy, you are arrested. If you cry, you are hunted down. If you read an unapproved book or look at a painting, you are a criminal. To keep the peace, citizens must take their daily allotment of Prozium, a powerful drug designed to stop feelings and keep everyone in line. Refuse to take the drug... you will be found.

Pleasantville: David loves Pleasantville, the cult1950's sitcom. His sister Jennifer, however, is too cool to bother. When a mysterious TV repairman gives them a new remote , the pair are magically transported IN to the fictional town. For better or worse, they are trapped in the alternate black and white reality---a white bread world without passion or violence---and it's up to them to bring life and colour back into their world.

V for Vendetta: Evey lives in an oppressive world. When faced with a life-or-death situation, V, a masked vigilante, comes to her aide. Both charismatic and highly skilled, V ignites revolution against the totalitarian regime, urging his fellow citizens to fight against the tyranny of their government. As Evey uncovers the truth behind V's identity, she also learns the truth about herself, becoming an unlikely ally. Their fight---to bring freedom and justice to a society that now only knows cruelty and corruption. 

So, what do you think of my matches? Have you read this book or seen any of these movies? Are there any books/movies you'd like to have recommendations for? I want this to be an interactive feature so tell me what books/movies you'd like to see paired. As always, leave your thoughts in the comments below!

13 March 2014

Audiobook Review: Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver

Title: Pandemonium
Author(s): Lauren Oliver
Genre(s): Dystopia, Romance, Science Fiction, Young Adult
Publisher/Release Date: HarperCollins / February 28, 2013
Series: Delirium (Book #2)
Grief is like sinking, like being buried. I am in water the tawny color of kicked-up dirt. Every breath is full of choking. There is nothing to hold on to, no sides, no way to claw myself up. There is nothing to do but let go. Let go. Feel the weight all around you, feel the squeezing of your lungs, the slow, low pressure. Let yourself go deeper. There is nothing but bottom. There is nothing but the taste of metal, and the echoes of old things, and days that look like darkness.” -Magdalena Haloway-Tiddle

Warning: This review may contain spoilers concerning Delirium

 Case Study
I’m pushing aside the memory of my nightmare, pushing aside thoughts of Alex, pushing aside thoughts of Hana and my old school, push, push, push, like Raven taught me to do. The old life is dead. But the old Lena is dead too. I buried her. I left her beyond a fence, behind a wall of smoke and flame. (synopsis from Goodreads)

The Game's Afoot
You guys, I am totally hooked on Lauren Oliver's Delirium series. So intense. So many emotions!

Pandemonium begins immediately after the events of Delirium with Lena's daring escape in to the Wilds... without Alex. While Delirium had the whimsy factor, Pandemonium was all about the action... and drama. Pandemonium reminded me of Catching Fire in a way --- the plot lines are similar but the stakes are higher, the revelations, bigger and bolder. Delirium introduces us to Lena but Pandemonium opens us up to so much more of her world and the politics behind it. Basically, they're headed for all out war.
The book is told in two sections, Now and Then and the contrast between past and present is effective in building the tension in the story. It's never confusing or boring and it really highlights the growth of these characters while providing a constant sense of intrigue. And if that's not enough to keep you reading, Oliver's beautiful prose will. True to form, every word has its place, every sentence, its purpose. No word or chapter is wasted. Every page leaves its mark. And this is why I am and will be a forever fan.

One of the most remarkable things about this book is Lena's personal journey and growth. She experiences the aftermath of losing her one and only love and is forced to deal with survivor's guilt. She has to start anew and rebuild her life in the Wilds. And that's another thing I loved, seeing the infamous Wilds. Things are hard for Lena, life there is hard in general. It's not the fantasy world that Lena originally imagined. People suffer and people die. But after spending some time in the Wilds, Lena learns to become a fighter. Her transformation is earnest, believable and not without its share of hardships. She's not handed anything and her friend and savior, Raven, sees to that. Lena earns her place with Raven and the gang and that's really rewarding to see.

I wasn't a huge fan of the romance in Pandemonium, as admittedly, I am a Lena-Alex shipper. Lena and Julian progress slowly, in a very natural sort of way, from overt wariness to gradual friendship then to something more. It's a slow, simmering sort of burn. Don't get me wrong, I understood the development of her feelings for Julian, but that doesn't mean I have to like them. It's interesting that Lena and Julian's relationship mimics the path that Lena and Alex took when they first met, only the roles are very much reversed. Lena is to Julian in Pandemonium what Alex was to Lena in Delirium. Eventually, Julian experiences the same progression that Lena did with concern to delira amor nervosa and he turns out to be a great character. He's one of those people who was initially shaped by his environment but as soon as you take him away from that, he really flourishes. Then there's Lena, who went from this scrappy, lost girl to this bad-ass, hard-edged, self-sufficient woman. She's a fighter. She fights for who she loves, what she believes in and for, well, love itself. 

And you've got to admire a girl like that.

Summary Prognosis
Pandemonium is everything you could want and love in a series sequel. With serious character growth, amped up stakes and lots of dramatic tension, it had me hooked from the first page. And trust me, you're gonna want to stick around for that ending --- holy cliffhanger, Batman! I think, deep down, I knew it was coming but no amount of preparation could lessen the shock of it. It's a beautiful story and has solidified itself as one of my top book series EVER. 

Rating: ★★★★½

Read It: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Audible
Discuss It: Goodreads | Author's Website 

11 March 2014

Page & Screen Pairings: For the Zombie Newb

Warm Bodies is the clever, funny, sweet and, yes, undead retelling of Romeo and Juliet. I know some of you aren't super into zombies (say whaaaaaat?!) and that's exactly why I'd recommend it as a movie and/or book (preferably both). It's a zombie story for zombie-haters. If upon reading/watching it, you discover that zombies are your thing, here are a some other introductory zombie reads that will fuel your need for some BRRAAAIIIIINNNSSS.

The Zombie Survival Guide by Max Brooks: This book is the perfect survival guide for all your zombie woes. Fully illustrated and exhaustively comprehensive, covering everything from zombie behavior and physiology to defense tactics, weaponry and basic survival skills. This book is a must-have for any zombie aficionado.

Breathers: A Zombie's Lament by S.G. Browne: Breathers is a dark comedy with surprisingly touching moments and enough gore to please all zombie fans. It's the zombie rom-com that will make you want more of zombie rom-coms.

Married With Zombies by Jesse Petersen: This is my favourite zombie-based series. If scares and zombies aren’t your thing, that’s okay, this book is the perfect introductory to both. The first in a series, it screams with LOL moments and tons of cinematic action. Trust me, our feisty narrator Sarah won’t allow you to regret a thing.

So, what do you think of my matches? Have you seen this movie or read any of these books? Are there any books/movies you'd like to have recommendations for? I want this to be an interactive feature so tell me what books/movies you'd like to see paired. As always, leave your thoughts in the comments below!
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