Friday, 24 July 2015

Feature Follow Friday

Feature Follow Friday is hosted by Parajunkee and Alison Can Read, and is a way to meet and greet new followers.
So hello any new followers! Feel free to say hi on this post.

Today's question is: What is your favorite movie? - Suggested by A Kernel of Nonsense

My favourite movie of all time is Guillermo del Toro's Pan's Labyrinth. It's a dark fairytale woven through the realities of war, and while I can't watch the movie often because of the gore and horror, it still resonates within me. 
I'm a sucker for fairytales and fairytale retellings, and this has the same feel as one of Grimm's original gory fairytales. 

The pale man continues to haunt my dreams
The imagery is so gorgeous, and the atmosphere is enchanting yet hollow. It's a horror film as much as a fairytale.

It's a huge influence on my writing, as I too, write dark fantasy--fairytales with a twist. 

What about you? What's your favourite movie? I'd love to hear all about it.

And don't forget to enter my giveaway for The Nutcracker Bleeds. It's international, and the book is a dark fairytale much like this is.

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Comic Review: Pure Insanity - New Suicide Squad vol 1

Pure Insanity
New Suicide Squad, vol 1 (#1-8)
written by Sean Ryan
DC Comics

Setting the world’s most dangerous super-criminals against the most insidious threats to national security: that’s the idea behind the elite black-ops unit officially designated as Task Force X. It’s perfect…on paper. 
But the real world rarely goes according to plan. Threats evolve. Teammates turn on each other. Blood and betrayals flow like rivers. And that’s why Task Force X is better known as the Suicide Squad. 
Vic Sage aims to change the equation. Replacing Amanda Waller as the puppet-master of Suicide Squad’s motley crew, he’s introducing wild cards like Deathstroke and the Joker’s Daughter to whip the existing team-Deadshot, Harley Quinn, and Black Manta-into shape. But the world’s deadliest assassin and the Clown Princess of Crime have ideas of their own…and no explosive implants to keep them in line. 
Can this new Suicide Squad survive-or will it implode before it even begins?

Well, for the most part this is all about a catfight between Harley Quinn and Joker's Daughter over the Joker's face. Hardly any attention is being focused on anyone else, and it's horribly annoying. And the way they're sexualising this cat fight is just plain awful. Give Harley a freaking bra, for god's sake. Her corset keeps slipping down, barely covering her nips, whereas Joker's Daughter--who was originally about 16 when she first showed up--is suddenly aged up and in a skimpy skirt and crop top. As for their characterisations, they might as well be the same person, the way they're written.

After 3 issues of this, it gets tedious
What is going on with that face?
The story is sporadic and hectic, with no real purpose. The first three issues were, as I mentioned earlier, mainly about the cat-fight between Harley and Joker's daughter. The rest of the story--their entire reason for being in Russia in the first place--is often pushed to the side to make room for those two characters.
Beyond the fourth issue, once they wrote Joker's Daughter out of the story, things start to make sense, but it's still a rushed and poorly written mess.
For the most part it's just regular espionage stuff, going to other countries and accidentally fucking things up and accidentally saving America from communist superheroes. Nothing really special about it.

The art is inconsistent, constantly changing artists and styles... and woof, there are some bad artists in the mix. Faces are badly drawn, anatomy is impossible, and the girls' outfits are as booby as possible.

It really feels like no effort was being put into this when they decided to slap this together after the failure of the last Suicide Squad. Fans of the movie are going to be very disappointed when they turn to the comics to get more of their Suicide Squad fix.

Art: 2
Plot: 1
Characters: 2
Writing: 1
Interest: 1

1 sad cloud

Friday, 17 July 2015

Feature & Follow Friday

Feature Follow Friday is hosted by Parajunkee and Alison Can Read, and is a way to meet and greet new followers.
So hello any new followers! Feel free to say hi on this post.

Question of the Week: If you had the money what would your own personal library look like? What would be in it? What colors, decorations, etc would you put in it? - Suggested by The Realm of Books

The obvious answer to this would be the library from Beauty and the Beast

Ugh, doesn't that just make you yearn for more?

Don't forget to join my international giveaway for The Nutcracker Bleeds

Thursday, 16 July 2015

Review: Uprooted


by Naomi Novik

Pages: 400, ebook

Publisher: Tor UK

Date Released: June 1, 2015

Source: eARC

Agnieszka loves her valley home, her quiet village, the forests and the bright shining river. But the corrupted Wood stands on the border, full of malevolent power, and its shadow lies over her life. 
Her people rely on the cold, driven wizard known only as the Dragon to keep its powers at bay. But he demands a terrible price for his help: one young woman handed over to serve him for ten years, a fate almost as terrible as falling to the Wood. 
The next choosing is fast approaching, and Agnieszka is afraid. She knows - everyone knows - that the Dragon will take Kasia: beautiful, graceful, brave Kasia, all the things Agnieszka isn't, and her dearest friend in the world. And there is no way to save her. 
But Agnieszka fears the wrong things. For when the Dragon comes, it is not Kasia he will choose.

The writing is so lovely. It feels so musical and whimsical, rolling off the tongue in sweet waves. I stopped often to reread sentences and passages, often reading them aloud to hear the music in the words.
There's a rustic quality to the words--to the story itself. Set in an Eastern-European setting, it felt almost like coming home. I'm of Polish descent, and it makes me homesick for a place I've never been.

Agnieszka's fumbling of magic is endearing, and completely realistic. She's just a plain girl who knows nothing of magic, despite having it flow through her naturally. The way she stumbles her way through saving her village is courageous, even though she is in a constant state of terror. She's a strong character, learning to bond with a fickle thing like magic, and an intolerant fickle man like the Dragon.

The Dragon felt like a more adult version of the arrogant and selfish Howl from Howl's Moving Castle, trapping young women in his tower. His utter impatience towards Agnieszka is comedic, I couldn't stop giggling to myself. He is so uptight and to-the-letter that it's impossible for him to imagine a world different to the one he's carved out for himself, so when chaos follows Agnieszka, it's interesting to see his reactions. They are just such polar opposites, and yet they fit together perfectly.

The friendship between Agnieszka and Kasia was so raw and beautiful that it hurt whenever something went between them. And a lot of things went between them. The whole bloody Wood was conspiring to break them apart.Friendship plays a huge role within this book, and Nieszka and Kasia are together until the very end. It is their friendship that allows them to fight back the corruption of the Wood.

The Wood is a magical entity that creeps ever closer to humanity, and the Wood is corrupt. Everything within it is corrupted and pure evil, but it wasn't like that always. Long, long ago, the Wood was merely a copse of trees, who survived the invasion of humans. Since then, it has been growing ever larger, consuming whole towns, pulling people into the bark of the trees to create heart-trees.

This is a book about magic and redemption, of the corruption of good people, and the purity of those corrupted. It managed to weasel itself into being one of my favourite books ever.

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Comic Review: Batman Eternal vol 2

Batman Eternal, volume 2 (#22-34)
by Scott Snyder & James Tynion IV et. al
DC Comics

After Commissioner Gordon’s arrest, Batman’s world is turned upside down in these stories from issues #22-34 of the hit weekly series. New allies emerge, old allies fall and his rogues gallery of villains are not quite who they seem. With a new power structure being established in Gotham City amid rising tension and chaos, can Batman adapt to the changing status quo?
Last time on Batman Eternal: Hush has finally made an entrance, at the cost of Alfred Pennyworth.
It's up to Alfred's daughter to take his place before the bat-computer.
Now, as much as I like Hush, I prefer him in the Heart of Hush and Hush Money. Here, it feels forced. Once again, Tommy is the bad guy, looking to destroy Gotham for no real reason except to make Bruce's life a living hell (as usual). I'm still trying to figure out what Hush's motive is, beyond wanting to be like Bruce--which is overused and lacking the depth is once had.

All the other plot threads from the last volume have been pushed to the side, and we don't see the rest of the bat-family, which is disappointing. The last volume felt rich because of the celebration of family, whereas, the most this volume has in terms of family is the strained relationship between Alfred and his daughter, and even then it's barely touched upon.
The clear difference between this volume and the previous is the plot. Very little happened.

Selina has turned out to be the daughter of Leo Calebresi, ex crime lord of Gotham city. And she's been given the mantle of crime lord of Gotham, whether she likes it or not. This isn't expanded in the comic, but it's promised in her own comic series.  Which disappoints me. I was hoping to see more of her mob boss action, since the last volume was full of gang war politics. But I suppose we'd be seeing more of that in Catwoman's own series.

Waylon Jones, aka Killer Croc, plays another vital role in the comic. It's important to note that he isn't a villain, no matter how many crimes he may have committed. He is an anti-hero, the world pitted against him because of the way he was born and is constantly perceived.  His role as Selina's bodyguard makes him have reason, after having been demonised in the last volume by Commissioner Bard.

Look, I'm basically very disappointed in this volume. Most of it was filler, and after reading the last hundred pages twice, I still can't remember what happened apart from Arkham Asylum blowing up for some reason, making way for Arkham Manor (review of that to come soon). I'm hoping that this is just a low point in the series, because the first volume built up some heavy shit.
Eagerly awaiting the final volume.

Art:  4
Plot: 2
Characters: 3
Writing: 3
Interest: 2

2 sad clouds

Friday, 10 July 2015

Feature Follow Friday

Feature Follow Friday is hosted by Parajunkee and Alison Can Read, and is a way to meet and greet new followers.
So hello any new followers! Feel free to say hi on this post.

Question of the Week: You can only eat one cuisine type for the rest of your life. Which would you choose? (E.g. Italian, French, Greek, Mexican, Chinese, Indian etc…) - Suggested by Journey Through Fiction

I think I could live off of scones with cream and jam and a mug of tea for the rest of my life. I adore the simple things in life.

What about you? What foods would you choose to eat for the rest of your life?

Don't forget to enter my international giveaway of The Nutcracker Bleeds

Review: Pieces of Sky

Pieces of Sky

by Trinity Doyle

Pages: 287, paperback

Date Released:

Source: own

Publisher: Allen and Unwin


Lucy's life was going as smoothly as any teenager's could. She was in the local swimming club, and loved it; she lived with her parents and her brother, Cam, in the small coastal town she'd known all her life. She had friends, she had goals - she had a life. Now Cam is dead, her parents might as well be - and Lucy can't bear to get back in the pool. All she has to look forward to now is a big pile of going-nowhere. 
Drawn to Steffi, her wild ex-best-friend who reminds Lucy of her mysterious, unpredictable brother, and music-obsessed Evan, the new boy in town, Lucy starts asking questions. Why did Cam die? Was it an accident or suicide? But as Lucy hunts for answers she discovers much more than she expects. About Cam. About her family. About herself.

This feels like a precious gem, raw and unfiltered and sharp. It looks gorgeous on the outside, and it shines brightly from the inside.

Lucy has to deal with the death of her brother, and doesn't know how to  deal with it--as to be expected. She feels the pressure of life pressing down onto her: the stares from people at school; looking after her depressed mother; dealing with a father who just can't accept her way of grieving; swimming finals, when she can barely stand to be near water.
When texts start being sent to her brother's phone from an unknown number, things get weird, and it draws Lucy even closer to the brink of obsession over her brother's death. Who is the mysterious girl that he drew before he died? Who is the person sending intimate messages to his phone? Since when has her mum had a history of depression?
It makes her question her brothers death: was it merely a stupid accident, or was it suicide?
The very idea that he could have killed himself is a chilling thought.

My one issue with this book is that out of nowhere, we would be in a flashback, and it was difficult to discern whether I was stuck in the present or the past. Lucy would be doing or thinking something, then she would be having a conversation with Cam that had happened before he died. It doesn't even use past tenses to denote the flashbacks, which made things very confusing.

The romance was sweet. Evan is a cute guy, and the things that happen between them is so realistic, and so so so sexy at times. It made me yearn for that first-love feeling. It's been a while since I felt that way from a book.

I read it in one sitting, within 3 hours, devouring every single word and sighing constantly at how perfectly relatable it was. It felt so distinctively Australian, and as I write this, I'm surrounded by eucalyptus trees, and kookaburras are laughing their little heads off. There's the screech of cockatoos, and I saw a kangaroo yesterday from the train. It made me smile and embrace these things.

This book is so raw and emotional, I kept crying for most of the second half. Even now, just reminiscing about it is making me tear up. How does Doyle manage to get right into my heart with those amazing words of hers?

Doyle has captured the Australian voice so well, it made me feel right at home. This was a stunning debut, and I can't wait to read more from her.

Cover Art: 5
Plot: 4
Writing: 4
Characters: 4
Interest: 4

4 stars

*Don't forget there's still time to enter my international giveaway for The Nutcracker Bleeds

Thursday, 9 July 2015

Review: A Thousand Pieces of You

A Thousand Pieces of You
by Claudia Gray

Pages: 357, paperback

Publisher: Harper

Date Released:


Marguerite Caine's physicist parents are known for their radical scientific achievements. Their more astonishing invention: the Firebird, which allows users to jump into parallel universes, some vastly altered from our own. But when Marguerite's father is murdered, the killer--her parent's handsome and enigmatic assistant Paul--escapes into another dimension before the law can touch him.
Marguerite can't let the man who destroyed her family go free, and she races after Paul through different universes, where their lives entangle in increasingly familiar ways. With each encounter she begins to question Paul's guilt--and her own heart. Soon she discovers the truth behind her father's death is more sinister than she ever could have imagined.
A Thousand Pieces of You explores a reality where we can witness the countless other lives we might lead in an amazingly intricate multiverse, and as whether, amid infinite possibilities, one love can endure.

I was hesitant about starting this book. The cover is so gorgeous, but I've learned enough times that sometimes the story isn't as lovely as the packaging.

It has such an interesting, promising premise: a murder mystery that spans not just our universe, but the multiverse--a universe for every single decision made. An infinite world of infinite possibilities. Marguerite Cain is on a mission to catch her father's killer, even if it means turning herself into "atomic soup".

Marguerite, I found, is a boring character. Even when she inhabits the bodies of the Marguerites from other worlds, she has no personality. She's just a blank slate hidden inside other blank slates.

All the plot is shoved aside to make room for a ridiculous romance that literally comes from out of nowhere. First Marguerite is so sure that this guy killed her father, and the next moment, she's pining away about his body heat and their almost touching. It made me want to gag, it was so sappy.
The discussion of fate--of things that happen in all universes, such as the love between two people--just makes the romance even more gag-worthy. It's just so forced.
It's such a shame about the lack of plot because it was such a unique concept that could have been fantastic under the right circumstances.

I found myself constantly bored by the story. Even when she's a grand duchess in Russia, the story manages to fall flat in lieu of the romance. All danger and consequences are thrown away for the sake of the romance. There was nothing at stake except for this true love.
In the end, I had to DNF this book. The contradictory nature of the multiuniverses verses fate just left me too frustrated to go on.
That's not to say it's bad. I was just expecting more sci-fi than romance. If you're in the mood for star-crossed lovers, then this is probably for you.

Cover Art: 4
Plot: 1 
Writing: 1
Characters: 1
Interest: 1

No stars, just one very sad cloud.

Sunday, 5 July 2015

Comic Review: Batman Eternal, vol 1.

Batman Eternal
Volume 1 (#1-21)
by Scott Snyder & James Tynion IV (story)
DC Comics

In the wake of Forever Evil, the world looks at heroes in a different light, creating tension between Batman and his allies and the Gotham City Police Department. When a gang war breaks out and new villains arise, it's up to the Dark Knight, Batgirl, and more to turn the tides as best as they can—but will the GCPD be a help or a hinderance? Plus, a fan-favorite character makes her long-awaited DC Comics—The New 52 debut.

Ex-mob boss Carmine Falcone (of The Long Halloween fame--which makes me so happy to know that it's now considered canon, since it's one of the best Batman comics to date) has returned to Gotham after being silent for the last five years. With him comes a wave of chaos that the whole Batfamily has to deal with. Family is important in any Bat-story. There are some who believe that Bruce works better alone, but he has flaws--flaws that the others make up for.
In this instalment, Bruce has to deal with the internal workings within the Batfamily, as they introduce several new characters into the mix.

With Carmine in charge, he buys out the mayor, who in turn, buys out the police force. This sneaky plot wages a war against the cops and Batman, a tale of good versus the corrupt.

Thursday, 2 July 2015

Guest Book Review: Blood of Elves

I've taken the day off from blogging to let a friend of mine review a book based off the highly popular  video game The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt. James is a dear friend of mine and is my sometimes-co-blogger. So, onto the post!

I am not a real Witcher fan. I came to the series, like many English-reading fans, through the video games. Specifically the recent The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt and it was upon completing the game that I thought, 'Bloody hell, how great must that have been for a Polish fan who's been reading Andrzej Sapkowski's work since the 90's?' Even though I had not read the books or really played the first two games, The Wild Hunt felt brilliantly like the epic conclusion of something special. And it was. I was hooked, totally along for the ride and absolutely in love with every character involved.

I say this because it meant I entered Blood of Elves with a very different perspective than someone just beginning a new series. Yes, it is the first book, but I had the unfair advantage of feeling like I already intimately knew these characters. Though, I've read some say that new readers should begin with The Last Wish as it's a collection of short stories set before the series and provides some background. I ignored that, obviously, but there is some merit in that idea.

The novel follows Ciri and Geralt, a child orphaned by war and the monster hunter whose destiny it was to find her. Ciri is prophesied to end the world, or to save it, or shape it, or elevate the power of whoever can manipulate, enslave or marry her. And there are so many people who'd like very much to find her for the own purposes. Enter Geralt, the famous and stoic witcher, who is known far and wide for both his deadly abilities as a hunter and torrid love affairs with beautiful enchantresses. In Ciri, Geralt does not find a valuable asset or source of power. He finds a daughter whom he would go to any lengths to protect. Ciri herself must come to terms with the violent miseries of her childhood in a world on the brink of war, where everyone else is making plans for her without a care to what she may want.

Ciri and Geralt by dragonlizzard

Blood of Elves is more of a character study than a novel. It is the first step in a grand adventure, but chooses to revel in its players first before doing much of anything. Sapkowski's world is already in full swing from page one and all of its principal players have lived long and/or eventful lives. To bring the audience up to speed, Sapkowski uses colourful conversations where people argue about the past in place of exposition. There are several scenes composed of only dialogue and it allows the author to establish every character's very distinct voice.

There are reasonable downsides to this, of course. The world of The Witcher is very dense with multiple plot lines to follow and so many characters who will all obviously have a part to play in later novels. Blood of Elves spends so much time jumping between one interesting conversation to the next that very little of the overall plot goes anywhere. After almost 400 pages, the story has not moved narratively or geographically very far. Yet it all feels like the first stones tumbling down the mountainside before an avalanche. It's a fun set up that lets the audience get invested in their toys before they can play with them.

I am jealous of all the people who've known them for 20 years now.

I know Geralt, Ciri, Yen and Triss. At least, I think I do. Even coming from The Wild Hunt to Blood of Elves I still feel like that's true. While many of the concepts espoused in the novel may be familiar to me from the games, it still felt like a solid way of kicking off the saga. If nothing else, it is just fun to spend more time with these characters.

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Comic Review: Batman & Robin: The Hunt for Robin

The Hunt for Robin
Batman and Robin vol 6, (#29-34)
writer Peter J Tomasi
art by Patrick Gleason et al.
DC Comics

After losing his son Damian - a.k.a. Robin - Batman has finally found peace with his death. Damian's grandfather, Ra's al Ghul, has not, however. In order to resurrect Robin, he's stolen the body - and now Batman will stop at nothing to reclaim him. (from Goodreads

Before I begin this review, I must add that I haven't read volume 5 of this series, mainly because I had a time limit on this copy of the comic. As such, I felt confused at the beginning, but I know the gist of it, being a continuation of vol 4, searching of Damian's body.

Here, it feels like R'as ahl Ghul is hinting at the fact that Talia didn't kill Damian, that someone else put the half a billion dollar bounty on his head. I hope this prediction is true, because I adore Talia, and refuse to acknowledge the versions where she rapes Bruce (in fact, in this volume alone, Bruce consents to sex with her, though doesn't exactly consent to his sperm being used to make a baby clone)

Bruce hunts R'as all across the globe, until they finally reach the Himalayas, and finds in his possession are the deformed bodies of unsuccessful Damian clones. The fatherly love he has for Damian makes it difficult for him to injure these malformed versions of his sons.

I'm not a fan that they recognise Clark and Diana as a couple--but that's a rant for another day. But once again, on their travels to Themyscira, they are attacked by Amazons who hate men with a bleeding passion, and paints them as murderous women who fuck and kill for procreation.I hated it when I read it in one of the early volumes of the N52 Wonder Woman, and I hate it now.

My biggest complaint came from the opening of the portal to Apokolips. I cannot begin to tell you how sick to death I am of Darkseid and Apokolips. And here, it made it feel cheap and convenient. I pretty much give up on any comic that mentions Darkseid/Apokolips, so I'm not sure I'll be reading the rest of this series, just keeping up with the story.

I found this to be the weakest of the Batman and Robin series, and I think it's because it's trying too hard to connect strings between all the JLA members and this narrative, when it's unnecessary. And the way he turns back everyone who offers to help him, while I understand it, it makes for a long and arduous journey to slog through.