Friday, June 28, 2013

COVER ART FRIDAY: Crash Into You Cover Reveal!

Happy Friday, Muses!

I'm sure this has already been circulating in the blog world for a few days now, but since I am a huge fan of Katie McGarry's Pushing the Limits series, I just had to share my excitement with everyone over the new cover art for the third and final novel, Crash Into You. Here it is:

My Thoughts: I think I squealed like a happy little piggy when I saw this cover! Not just because Katie McGarry has been one of those lucky authors to get amazing cover treatments for her novels in the past, but also Crash Into You is going to be Isaiah's story, a character that has been my favorite throughout the whole series. So I've been anxious to see how they were going to portray him on the cover. He loves his cars and has tats (although I wish they showed his piercings, but let's not be greedy!) so I think they did a great job. Now let's just hope the story can live up to its hype! November can't come quick enough!

Check out my reviews for books 1 & 2 in the Pushing the Limits series by Katie McGarry!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Book Review: A Rose in the Storm by: Brenda Joyce

Title: A Rose in the Storm
Author: Brenda Joyce
ISBN: 0373777701
Reading Level: Adult
Genre: Historical Romance
Length: 448 pgs
Binding: Paperback
Published: 25 June 2013; HQN Books


When Rivalry Becomes Passion

With warfare blazing through Scotland, the fate of the Comyn-MacDougall legacy depends on one woman. Recently orphaned, young Margaret Comyn must secure her clan's safety through an arranged marriage. But when an enemy invasion puts her at the mercy of the notorious Wolf of Lochaber, her every loyalty—and secret want—will be challenged.

And A Kingdom Is At Stake

Legendary warrior Alexander "The Wolf" MacDonald rides with Robert Bruce to seize the throne of Scotland. But when he takes the fiery Lady Margaret prisoner, she quickly becomes far more than a valuable hostage. For the passion between them threatens to betray their families, their country . . . and their hearts.

My Rating:

My Review: It's been ages since I've read a historical romance novel and I am almost ashamed to admit it since I owe my love of history, romance, and even reading to this genre. I was recently searching for the perfect book to jump back into my first love when I came across A Rose in the Storm. When I learned that Brenda Joyce, one of my favorite authors back in the 90's, was the one who wrote this historical romance (set in Scotland during the Wars of Scottish Independence against England led by Robert the Bruce) I just couldn't resist. What better way to get back into the genre then to start off with her new novel.

The historical accuracy and writing of the story was beautifully executed. You can tell that Brenda Joyce took the time to do her research and was quite dedicated to intricately weaving history and romance. She also nailed the accents which I am a huge stickler on. Who wants to read a historical romance with the characters sounding like they are from modern times? So I give her major credit for that, especially the Scottish brogue. It definitely gave the story that extra authenticity. All of these things combined made the novel almost feet like a sequel to the Academy Award winning movie BRAVEHEART. After all, the book does take place after the death of William Wallace...

Let me say this now that A Rose in the Storm is a little less conventional than some of your older historical romances. I figured this out when the hero's name was mentioned but he himself didn't actually enter the story until 45 pages in. Usually if the hero hasn't made an appearance within the first 10-15 pages, I get impatient. But somehow Joyce made it work. Actually, I think this was a genius idea because she used this time for character development. The first 45 pages was for her to paint us a very clear picture of our heroine, Lady Margaret. We learn all about her arranged marriage to Sir Guy, an Englishman, her loyalty to her beloved late parents, especially her mother and the Comyn name. Even though she is a Scottish lady, her uncle arranged her marriage to an Englishman to keep the peace and to take her rightful place at Castle Fyne, which meant so much to her mother.  She is barely within Castle Fyne's gates when she is alerted that Alexander MacDonald, also know as the Wolf of Lochaber, and hundreds of his men are outside the castle walls. The Wolf wants her to surrender. She refuses. The battle of wills and passion begins. This was all great build up to the scene where Margaret finally lays eyes on Alexander MacDonald and it is quite explosive. I kept thinking to myself, if Brenda Joyce is this good at building the suspense up to their first meeting, I could only imagine how amazing the sexual tension would be between the two.

While the story is written in third person, it is solely in Margaret's point-of-view which also doesn't quite fit the traditional historical romance formula. I'm not going to lie, I was a little bummed at first because I've always been the kind of reader that likes to see things through the eyes of both the heroine and hero. But again, Brenda Joyce made it work and here's why. The Wolf of Lochaber is dark, dangerous, and mysterious and not being able to see things in his perspective actually added to his allure. Seeing him only through Margaret's eyes added a sense of excitement and anxiety, emotions she herself probably felt, wondering when she would see him again, what he would say, and what his next move may be.

Since we are on the topic of our mysterious hero, I really love how the author realistically portrays him. On the one hand he is quite noble. Alexander accepted Margaret for who she was and  found her  to be courageous for standing her ground and not surrendering to him. Unlike most men of that time period, he liked that she spoke her mind. He also believed her intended husband, Sir Guy, was unworthy of her and feared if she went through with the marriage he would eventually crush her spirit. On the other hand, Alexander is just as fierce as his name suggests. He does kill people. And he does sleep with 2 of Margaret's handmaidens (not necessarily while they were together). The latter did bother me at first but I had to face the facts: Alexander is a warrior and it was quite common in those times.

Although it was sometimes hard for me to stomach, I commend Brenda Joyce for painting such vivid images of women's roles during that time period. It was truly a man's world, where a woman's worth depended solely on her dowry, and was expected to bear children and obey her husband. Margaret was a brave woman that risked many things in order to stay loyal to her family name. She tried to obey her uncle and not question her upcoming marriage to Sir Guy. I can only imagine how hard it must have been for her to be Scottish yet accept an English King and marry an Englishman when deep in her bones she couldn't help but admire Robert the Bruce. But for anyone that allied themselves with Robert the Bruce and got caught ended with devastating consequences. What truly gave me chills was when Margaret learns of King Edward's royal proclamation: all women who sided with Bruce were considered traitors, therefore any man may rob, rape, and murder them. Absolutely terrifying!

So here is what kept me from giving A Rose in the Storm a perfect 5 star rating. Let me start with the minor problem which is more of an uncharacteristic response then an issue. It's during the scene where Margaret is about to meet Sir Guy for the first time. Her intended husband and Alexander are speaking heatedly within earshot. When Sir Guy starts coming towards her, she suddenly, "...dropped her hood and released her braid, finger combing her hair into a mane..."  What?? Is she primping??? Right in front her intended and Alexander??? This was not only an uncharacteristic response (I could maybe see someone from modern times do this) but it just didn't work for the scene at all.

Now to my major issue. As I predicted, Brenda Joyce builds amazing sexual tension between Margaret and Alexander, just like she did in the beginning when they first meet. But when they finally decide to give into their desires, the scene is a PARAGRAPH! He picks her up, puts her against the wall, thrusts into her, and then...Margaret wakes up the next morning in his bed. WTF!!!! All the love scenes were like this! They were not the hot, steamy scenes I remember Brenda Joyce writing years ago. Maybe she didn't want to get completely explicit which I can respect, but there are ways she could have done that and still given us fulfilling love scenes. Maybe it would have helped if this novel had been written by an author I was unfamiliar with. But since I've read Joyce's novels in the past, I had certain expectations.

Despite being disgruntled over the diluted love scenes, A Rose in the Storm was well written and came together on so many other levels that I still give this book a 4 star rating.

Monday, June 24, 2013

My Picks of the Week! (25th June 2013)

Hello, Muses!

As June draws to a close and my 31st Birthday looms closer  (this Thursday, yikes!), there are a few interesting releases that we shouldn't forget about.

In Adult books, Brenda Joyce surprised me with her historical romance A Rose in the Storm, set in Scotland during the Wars of Scottish Independence against England led by Robert the Bruce. Stay tuned for my review later this week. Also worth mentioning are Copper Girl by Jennifer Allis Provost and Caged Warrior by Lindsey Piper.

In Young Adult books, Tara Sullivan's Golden Boy sounds like a heart wrenching novel; I wouldn't be surprised if it becomes a bestseller. If you like Cole Gibsen's Katana series, then you may want to try Ink, book 1 in the Paper Gods series by Amanda Sun.

In Movies & TV Series, check out The Incredible Burt Wonderstone, starring Steve Carell, Steve Buscemi, and Jim Carrey who was, in my opinion, the best part of this movie! If you are looking for a little starcrossed romance then you need to check out Upside Down starring Jim Sturgess and Kristen Dunst. Not much going on in tv series this week, but if you like Army of Darkness then Todd and the Book of Pure Evil: Season 2 might be worth a watch.


BOOKS (25th-27th JUNE)


A Rose in the Storm
by: Brenda Joyce
When Rivalry Becomes Passion

With warfare blazing through Scotland, the fate of the Comyn-MacDougall legacy depends on one woman. Recently orphaned, young Margaret Comyn must secure her clan's safety through an arranged marriage. But when an enemy invasion puts her at the mercy of the notorious Wolf of Lochaber, her every loyalty—and secret want—will be challenged.

And A Kingdom Is At Stake

Legendary warrior Alexander "The Wolf" MacDonald rides with Robert Bruce to seize the throne of Scotland. But when he takes the fiery Lady Margaret prisoner, she quickly becomes far more than a valuable hostage. For the passion between them threatens to betray their families, their country . . . and their hearts.

Release Date: 25 June 2013

After Dark (Lords of the Underworld, #4.5)
by: Gena Showalter, Kait Ballenger 

A timeless seduction A unique temptation And a whole world of dark desires...

From New York Times bestselling author Gena Showalter

The Darkest Angel

Winged warrior Lysander has been alive for centuries, and yet he's never known desire-until he meets Bianka. Spawned from the bloodline of his enemy, the beautiful but deadly Harpy is determined to lead the untouched Lysander into temptation. He may try to evade her attempts, but even the most iron-willed demon assassin can resist for only so long....

And from debut author Kait Ballenger

Shadow Hunter

Vampire hunter Damon Brock's first assignment with the Execution Underground is Rochester, New York, a city crawling with the undead. But he isn't the only hunter in town gunning for vamp blood. Tiffany Solow is fierce and ruthless when it comes to slaying the monsters that destroyed her family-and she works solo. But being alone is no longer so desirable when she meets the mysterious hunter who wants more than just her turf. As they work to massacre the local covens, the line between good and evil blurs when they are forced to decide between their lifelong beliefs... and their newfound hearts

Release Date: 25 June 2013

Armies of Heaven (The House of Arkhangel, #3)
by: Jane Kindred

Full-scale war has broken out in Heaven, and Anazakia must embrace her destiny, leading an army of Virtues into battle against a Host of enemies to restore the House of Arkhangel’sk. Furious with her for putting her trust in the angel who has done them all irreparable harm, Vasily tries to ignore his growing resentment, while Belphagor returns to the world of Man with a cadre of beautiful androgynous Virtues to restore the sundered alliance between the Fallen and the gypsy underground. Without their help in enlisting the terrestrial forces of Grigori and Nephilim, Anazakia’s Virtues are hopelessly outnumbered. But there are more things in Heaven and Earth than any of them have dreamt of, and those they cannot see will mean the difference between victory and losing everything.

Release Date: 25 June 2013

Caged Warrior (Dragon Kings, #1)
by: Lindsey Piper
The first installment in this fierce and sensual new paranormal romance series features demonic gladiators, ruthless mafia villains, and a proud race on the brink of extinction.

Ten years ago, Audrey MacLaren chose to marry her human lover, making her an exile from the Dragon Kings, an ancient race of demons once worshiped as earthly gods. Audrey and her husband managed to conceive, and their son is the first natural-born Dragon King in a generation—which makes him irresistible to the sadistic scientist whose mafia-funded technology allows demon procreation. In the year since her husband was murdered, Audrey and her little boy have endured hideous experiments.

Shackled with a collar and bound for life, Leto Garnis is a Cage warrior. Only through combat can Dragon Kings earn the privilege of conceiving children. Leto uses his superhuman speed and reflexes to secure the right for his two sisters to start families. After torture reveals Audrey’s astonishing pyrokenesis, she is sent to fight in the Cages. If she survives a year, she will be reunited with her son. Leto is charged with her training. Initially, he has no sympathy for her plight. But if natural conception is possible, what has he been fighting for? As enemies, sparring partners, lovers, and eventual allies, Leto and Audrey learn that in a violent underground world, love is the only prize worth winning

Release Date: 25 June 2013

Copper Girl (Copper Legacy, #1)
by: Jennifer Allis Provost

Sara had always been careful.

She never spoke of magic, never associated with those suspected of handling magic, never thought of magic, and never, ever, let anyone see her mark. After all, the last thing she wanted was to end up missing, like her father and brother.

Then, a silver elf pushed his way into Sara's dream, and her life became anything but ordinary.

Release Date: 25 June 2013

Damn Him to Hell (Saturn's Daughter, #2)
by: Jamie Quaid

Justice is blind. Justine isn’t. Book two in the Saturn's Daughter series, in which Tina Clancy is gifted with the power to dispense justice...for good or evil.

Tina Clancy is adapting to her new life as one of Saturn’s Daughters while living in the toxic part of Baltimore known as The Zone, and occasionally acting as a champion of the downtrodden, the weird, the innocent...and the sometimes not-so-innocent.

Just when she finally lands a real law job, the Zone is blasted by poisonous gas and her sometimes-boyfriend starts receiving visitors from Hell. He’s none too pleased about that, or in Tina having sent his granny to Hell in his place. For that matter, neither is granny…

Release Date: 25 June 2013

Forged in Steele (KGI, #7)
by: Maya Banks

The Kelly Group International (KGI): A super-elite, top secret, family-run business.
Qualifications: High intelligence, rock-hard body, military background.
Mission: Hostage/kidnap victim recovery. Intelligence gathering. Handling jobs the U.S. government can’t…

Steele, a KGI team leader, is an enigma not even his team mates understand. His emotions are tightly locked down and nothing can break that icy exterior. Nothing except Maren Scofield, a doctor on a mission, a woman who has gotten under Steele’s skin and threatens to crack that unflappable cool he’s legendary for.

Steele is determined not to allow Maren past his carefully guarded defenses, but when she’s in danger, there’s no way he’ll allow anyone else to protect her. She’s hiding something. He’s sure of it. But he isn’t prepared for the shocking discovery her secrets reveal. Or how they will forever alter the course of his destiny. He has a decision to make. Hold tight and shut her out. Or take a chance on something more powerful than he’s ever faced. Love.

Release Date: 25 June 2013

Game Changer, The (The Perfect Game, #2)
by: J. Sterling

Jack appeared at my door last night after six months of no communication wearing a Mets jersey and holding a dozen red roses. He told me he was sorry, that he loved me, and that he would earn my trust again. It took everything in me to not fall apart at the mere sight of him. I wanted to take him back into my life, but I needed to know that this time it would be forever…
In J. Sterling’s highly anticipated follow-up to her USA Today bestselling novel The Perfect Game, Jack and Cassie quickly realize that their new lifestyle can often be cruel and unforgiving. Their happiness is put to the test as the past is never truly far behind.

How do you stay together when the world's trying to tear you apart? 

Release Date: 25 June 2013

'Geisters, The
by: David Nickle
When Ann LeSage was a little girl, she had an invisible friend - a poltergeist, that spoke to her with flying knives and howling winds. She called it the Insect. And with a little professional help, she contained it. And the nightmare was over, at least for a time. But the nightmare never truly ended. As Ann grew from girl into young woman, the Insect grew with her. It became more than terrifying. It became a thing of murder. Now, as she embarks on a new life married to Michael Voors, a successful young lawyer, Ann believes that she finally has the Insect under control. But there are others vying to take that control away from her. They may not know exactly what they're dealing with, but they know they want it. They are the 'Geisters. And in pursuing their own perverse dream, they risk spawning the most terrible nightmare of all.

Release Date: 25 June 2013

Hunted (Iron Druid Chronicles, #6)
by: Kevin Hearne

For a two-thousand-year-old Druid, Atticus O’Sullivan is a pretty fast runner. Good thing, because he’s being chased by not one but two goddesses of the hunt—Artemis and Diana—for messing with one of their own. Dodging their slings and arrows, Atticus, Granuaile, and his wolfhound Oberon are making a mad dash across modern-day Europe to seek help from a friend of the Tuatha Dé Danann. His usual magical option of shifting planes is blocked, so instead of playing hide-and-seek, the game plan is . . . run like hell.

Crashing the pantheon marathon is the Norse god Loki. Killing Atticus is the only loose end he needs to tie up before unleashing Ragnarok—AKA the Apocalypse. Atticus and Granuaile have to outfox the Olympians and contain the god of mischief if they want to go on living—and still have a world to live in.

Release Date: 25 June 2013


After Daybreak (Darkness Before Dawn, #3)
by:  J.A. London

After Daybreak brings J. A. London's romantic dystopian Darkness Before Dawn series to a thrilling conclusion.

Dawn grew up behind a wall, terrified of the vampires outside who controlled the lives of humans and demanded their blood. But when she became a delegate for her city and met Victor, she realized that not all vampires were the same, that maybe one could be trusted.

Now Day Walker Sin is infecting his followers with a disease that turns them into mindless killers. Dawn and Victor will have to convince humans and vampires to band together to stop him, because alone they will all die.

After Daybreak is perfect for fans of the YA series Morganville Vampires and the Vampire Diaries.

Release Date: 25 June 2013

Corner of Bitter and Sweet, The
by: Robin Palmer 

Gilmore Girls meets Postcards from the Edge crossed with L.A. Candy!

Sixteen-year-old Annabelle Jacobs never asked to be famous, but as the daughter of Janie Jacobs, one of the biggest TV stars in the world, she is. Growing up is hard enough. Having to do it in public because your mother is a famous actress? Even harder. When your mom crashes and burns after her DUI mug shot is splashed across the internet? Definitely not fun. Then your mom falls for a guy so much younger than she that it would be more appropriate for you to be dating him? That’s just a train wreck waiting to happen.

From Robin Palmer, author of Geek Charming and Wicked Jealous, this is a novel about the most complicated relationship a girl ever has: that with her mother.

Release Date: 27 June 2013

Feros, The (Vindico, #2)
by: Wesley King

After using your newfound super powers to defeat the most evil villains on the planet, what could you possibly do for an encore?

After defeating their villain mentors, the Vindico, James, Hayden, Sam, Emily and Lana are finally ready to join the League of Heroes. But as their induction into the League draws near, they are framed by a group of rogue Heroes and given life sentences on the Perch.  Thunderbolt, the League’s leader, is the only one who can clear their names, but he is missing. To make matters worse, the Vindico are mysteriously let out of prison and a group of strange Shadow people start trailing the teens’ every move. Unsure of who to trust or where to go, the teens put their new skills to the test once more as they fight to save themselves—and their families—from an unknown foe. But how will they defeat an enemy they can not see?

Release Date: 27 June 2013

Golden Boy
by: Tara Sullivan

A shocking human rights tragedy brought to light in a story of heartbreak and triumph.

Thirteen-year-old Habo has always been different— light eyes, yellow hair and white skin. Not the good brown skin his family has and not the white skin of tourists. Habo is strange and alone. His father, unable to accept Habo, abandons the family; his mother can scarcely look at him. His brothers are cruel and the other children never invite him to play. Only his sister Asu loves him well. But even Asu can’t take the sting away when the family is forced from their small Tanzanian village, and Habo knows he is to blame.

Seeking refuge in Mwanza, Habo and his family journey across the Serengeti. His aunt is glad to open her home until she sees Habo for the first time, and then she is only afraid. Suddenly, Habo has a new word for himself: Albino. But they hunt Albinos in Mwanza because Albino body parts are thought to bring good luck. And soon Habo is being hunted by a fearsome man with a machete.

To survive, Habo must not only run but find a way to love and accept himself.

Release Date: 27 June 2013

Hidden, The (Avena, #1)
by: Marianne Curley

For as long as Ebony can remember, she's been sheltered. Confined to her home in a secluded valley, home-schooled by her protective parents, and limited to a small circle of close friends. It's as if she's being hidden. But something is changing in Ebony. Something that can't be concealed. She's growing more beautiful by the day, she's freakishly strong, and then there's the fact that she's glowing.

On one fateful night, Ebony meets Jordan and she's intensely drawn to him. It's as if something explodes inside of her--something that can be seen from the heavens. Ebony still doesn't know that she's a stolen angel, but now that the heavens have found her, they want her back.

Release Date: 25 June 2013

In the After (In the After, #1)
by: Demitria Lunetta

They hear the most silent of footsteps.
They are faster than anything you've ever seen.
And They won't stop chasing you...until you are dead.

Amy is watching TV when it happens, when the world is attacked by Them. These vile creatures are rapidly devouring mankind. Most of the population is overtaken, but Amy manages to escape—and even rescue “Baby,” a toddler left behind in the chaos. Marooned in Amy’s house, the girls do everything they can to survive—and avoid Them at all costs.

After years of hiding, they are miraculously rescued and taken to New Hope, a colony of survivors living in a former government research compound. While at first the colony seems like a dream with plenty of food, safety, and shelter, New Hope slowly reveals that it is far from ideal. And Amy soon realizes that unless things change, she’ll lose Baby—and much more.

Rebellious, courageous, and tender, this unforgettable duo will have you on the edge of your seat as you tear through the pulse-pounding narrow escapes and horrifying twists of fate in this thrilling debut from author Demitria Lunetta.

Release Date: 25 June 2013

Ink (The Paper Gods, #1)
by: Amanda Sun

On the heels of a family tragedy, the last thing Katie Greene wants to do is move halfway across the world. Stuck with her aunt in Shizuoka, Japan, Katie feels lost. Alone. She doesn’t know the language, she can barely hold a pair of chopsticks, and she can’t seem to get the hang of taking her shoes off whenever she enters a building.

Then there’s gorgeous but aloof Tomohiro, star of the school’s kendo team. How did he really get the scar on his arm? Katie isn’t prepared for the answer. But when she sees the things he draws start moving, there’s no denying the truth: Tomo has a connection to the ancient gods of Japan, and being near Katie is causing his abilities to spiral out of control. If the wrong people notice, they'll both be targets.

Katie never wanted to move to Japan—now she may not make it out of the country alive.

Release Date: 25 June 2013

Lost Sun, The (United States of Asgard, #1)
by: Tessa Gratton

Fans of Neil Gaiman's American Gods and Holly Black's The Curse Workers will embrace this richly drawn, Norse-mythology-infused alternate world: the United States of Asgard.

Seventeen-year-old Soren Bearskin is trying to escape the past. His father, a famed warrior, lost himself to the battle-frenzy and killed thirteen innocent people. Soren cannot deny that berserking is in his blood--the fevers, insomnia, and occasional feelings of uncontrollable rage haunt him. So he tries to remain calm and detached from everyone at Sanctus Sigurd's Academy. But that's hard to do when a popular, beautiful girl like Astrid Glyn tells Soren she dreams of him. That's not all Astrid dreams of--the daughter of a renowned prophetess, Astrid is coming into her own inherited abilities.

When Baldur, son of Odin and one of the most popular gods in the country, goes missing, Astrid sees where he is and convinces Soren to join her on a road trip that will take them to find not only a lost god, but also who they are beyond the legacy of their parents and everything they've been told they have to be.

Release Date: 25 June 2013

Neptune's Tears (Timedance, #1)
by: Susan Waggoner

London, 2218 A.D. Seventeen-year-old Zee is an intern empath. She’s focused on her job, poised for a great career—until one day an attractive patient undoes her hard-earned calm. As an empath, she cannot afford such distractions, but neither can she stay away from David, even when she discovers he’s one of a mysterious alien race. As London comes under attack by anarchist bombings, and as Zee struggles to get a handle on her unusually strong psychic abilities, David starts pulling away. Although Zee’s sure he’s attracted to her, David has secrets he cannot share. But it’s too late for Zee. She’s losing her heart to the gray-eyed alien boy, and she’s determined to follow him—no matter how far it may take her

Release Date: 25 June 2013

by: A.J. Paquette

Fans of James Dashner's Maze Runner series will love this postapocalyptic adventure about a girl who must survive an alien planet in order to save the Earth.

Ana only knows her name because of the tag she finds pinned to her jumpsuit. Waking in the featureless compartment of a rocket ship, she opens the hatch to discover that she has landed on a barren alien world. Instructions in her pocket tell her to observe and to survive, no doubt with help from the wicked-looking knives she carries on her belt. But to what purpose?

Meeting up with three other teens--one boy seems strangely familiar--Ana treks across the inhospitable landscape, occasionally encountering odd twists of light that carry glimpses of people back on Earth. They're working on some sort of problem, and the situation is critical. What is the connection between Ana's mission on this planet and the crisis back on Earth, and how is she supposed to figure out the answer when she can't remember anything

Release Date: 25 June 2013



Black Pond
Directed by: Tom Kingsley

Starring: Chris Langham, Simon Amstell

A typical British family is labeled as murderers by the tabloid press after a dinner guest dies in their home, and a scheming psychotherapist leaks the story to opportunistic reporters. Tom Thompson (Chris Langham) was taking his dog for a walk when he happened across Blake, a man who appeared to have fallen on hard times. Sympathetic, the suburban father invited the stranger back to his home or a hot meal. During the course of the dinner, however, Blake suddenly dropped dead. Months later, a friend of the family relays the perplexing story to his therapist Dr Eric Sacks (Simon Amstell), who immediately leaks the story to the press. In no time, the Thompsons gain a notorious reputation as the, "Family of Killers". Meanwhile, all Tom wants is to gain the respect of his rebellious daughters Jess and Katie, sooth the frazzled nerves of his distraught wife Sophie.

Release Date: 25 June 2013

Call, The
Directed by: Brad Anderson

Starring: Halle Berry, Abigail Breslin

In this heart-pounding, edge-of-your-seat thriller, veteran 911 operator Jordan (Halle Berry) takes a life-altering call from a teenage girl (Abigail Breslin) who has been kidnapped and thrown into the trunk of a madman's car. But with the clock ticking, Jordan soon realizes she must confront a killer from her past in order to save the girl's life and put an end to a serial killer's haunting rampage.

Release Date: 25 June 2013

In the Family
Directed by: Patrick Wang

Starring: Sebastian Banes, Patrick Wang

In the town of Martin, Tennessee, Chip Hines, a precocious six year old, has only known life with his two dads, Cody and Joey. And a good life it is. When Cody dies suddenly in a car accident, Joey and Chip struggle to find their footing again. Just as they begin to, Cody's will reveals that he named his sister as Chip's guardian. The years of Joey's acceptance into the family unravel as Chip is taken away from him. In his now solitary home life, Joey searches for a solution. The law is not on his side, but friends are. Armed with their comfort and inspired by memories of Cody, Joey finds a path to peace with the family and closer to his son.

Release Date: 25 June 2013

Incredible Burt Wonderstone, The
Directed by: Don Scardino

Starring: Steve Carell, Steve Buscemi, Jim Carrey

Superstar magicians Burt Wonderstone (Steve Carell) and Anton Marvelton (Steve Buscemi) have ruled the Las Vegas strip for years, raking in millions with illusions as big as Burt's growing ego. But lately the duo's greatest deception is their public friendship, while secretly they've grown to loathe each other. Facing cutthroat competition from guerilla street magician Steve Gray (Jim Carrey), whose cult following surges with each outrageous stunt, even their show looks stale. But there's still a chance Burt and Anton can save the act-both onstage and off-if Burt can get back in touch with what made him love magic in the first place

Release Date: 25 June 2013

Lesser Blessed
Directed by: Anita Doron

Starring: Benjamin Bratt, Chloe Rose

A misfit metalhead from the Northern Territories endures relentless bullying after surviving a family tragedy that left him scarred both physically and emotionally in this poignant teen drama based on a novel by Richard Van Camp. Larry Sole (Joel Nathan Evans) lives in an isolated community where most teenagers pass the time with drinking and sports. A member of the Tlicho First Nation, his extreme musical tastes and general disinterest in such frivolous pastimes make him not only a target for adolescent aggressor Darcy (Adam Butcher), but a virtual unknown to Juliet (Chloe Rose), the pretty girl whom he quietly pines for. When rebellious Aboriginal Johnny (Kiowa Gordon) transfers to their school and quickly puts Darcy in his place, both Larry and Juliet are impulsively drawn to their fearless new classmate. As a tender friendship blossoms between Larry and Johnny, so does a passionate romance between Juliet and Johnny. The moment Larry summons the courage to stand up for himself, however, a painful secret from his troubled past threatens to make him more of an outcast than ever before.

Release Date: 25 June 2013

Directed by: Pablo Larrain

Starring: Gael Garcia Bernal

In 1988, Chilean military dictator Augusto Pinochet, due to international pressure, is forced to call a plebiscite on his presidency. The country will vote YES or NO to Pinochet extending his rule for another eight years. Opposition leaders for the NO persuade a brash young advertising executive, Rene Saavedra (Gael Garcia Bernal), to spearhead their campaign. Against all odds, with scant resources and under scrutiny by the despot's minions, Saavedra and his team devise an audacious plan to win the election and set Chile free.

Release Date: 25 June 2013

Upside Down
Directed by: Juan Diego Solanas

Starring: Jim Sturgess, Kristen Dunst

Ever since Adam (Jim Sturgess) and Eden (Kirsten Dunst) fell in love as teens, their bond has faced astronomical odds. The pair are separated not just by social class and a political system bent on keeping them apart, but also by a freak planetary condition: they live on twinned worlds with gravities that pull in opposite directions-he on the poverty-stricken planet below, she on the wealthy, exploitative world above. Their budding but illicit romance screeches to a tragic halt when interplanetary-border patrol agents catch them and Eden suffers an apparently fatal fall. But when, ten years later, Adam learns she is alive and working at a vast corporation whose towering headquarters connects their planets, he sets out on a dangerous quest to infiltrate the company and the upper world to reconnect with her. UPSIDE DOWN is a visually stunning romantic adventure that poses the question: what if love was stronger than gravity?

Release Date: 25 June 2013


Jack Taylor: Series 1

Starring: Iain Glen

Based on the bestselling crime fiction by Ken Bruen

Self-destructive, pigheaded, and overfond of the bottle, Jack Taylor (Iain Glen, Game of Thrones, Downton Abbey) is a forty-something ex-cop trying to earn a living as a private detective in his native Galway. Taylor has burned a lot of bridges, but he still has a knack for uncovering ugly truths. In his new trade, Taylor finds evil at every turn: the serial murders of young female factory workers, a vicious vigilante group executing summary justice, and a sadistic nun dubbed "Lucifer" by her former charges.

Set against the rugged backdrop of western Ireland, this crime noir series depicts a country in transition, caught between the certainties of the past and the anxieties of a post-bubble future. Those same strains play out in the life of Jack Taylor, a man seeking to reinvent himself in a community with a long memory and an uneasy attitude towards change. Includes three feature-length mysteries: The Guards, The Pikemen, and The Magdalen Martyrs

Release Date: 25 June 2013

New Tricks: Season 9

Starring: James Bolam, Brian Lane


For eight years, the old dogs of the Unsolved Crime and Open Case Squad—veteran detectives Jack Halford (James Bolam, The Beiderbecke Affair), Brian Lane (Alun Armstrong, Garrow's Law), and Gerry Standing (Dennis Waterman, The Sweeney)—have been a close-knit team. Led by Detective Superintendent Sandra Pullman (Amanda Redman, Sexy Beast), their beautiful, younger boss, they have solved cold cases with classic policing skills and easy camaraderie. Then Jack drops a bombshell: he's quitting. Retiring. And this time, he means it.

Before long, Sandra finds a replacement in retired detective Steve McAndrew (Emmy® nominee Denis Lawson, Bleak House, Star Wars). A chatty, enthusiastic Scot, Steve treads on toes but gives the hit British series a "charm injection" (Huffington Post, U.K.). Season Nine guest stars include James Wilby (Island at War, Gosford Park), Sharon Small (The Inspector Lynley Mysteries), Kerry Fox (Cloudstreet), and Tim McInnerny (Blackadder) as intelligence agent Stephen Fisher. 

Release Date: 25 June 2013

Todd and the Book of Pure Evil: Season 2

Starring: Alex House, Maggie Castle

Todd and the Gang return for more gore-a-fying adventures at Crowley High. Todd is torn between his horny needs and his dark destiny; Jenny discovers the reason behind her Dad s disappearance; Curtis ex-girlfriend returns to throw the Gang in turmoil; and Hannah discovers a secret so disturbing that it threatens her own identity. Meanwhile, Atticus is determined to unlock the Book s power for himself, and Jimmy is, well, doing Jimmy things.

Bonus Features: Blooper Reel, Deleted and Extended Scenes, Extended Musical Numbers, Special FX Bonus Material, Behind-the-Scenes Featurette, In Memoriam : A tribute to the fallen students of Crowley High, Three Audio Commentaries with Cast & Crew. 

Release Date: 25 June 2013

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Review & Author Q&A: SEA CHANGE by: S.M. Wheeler

Title: Sea Change
Author: S.M. Wheeler
ISBN: 0765333147
Reading Level: Adult
Genre: Fantasy, Magical Realism
Theme(s): Coming of Age, Dark Fairy Tale, Unlikely Friendship
Length: 304 pgs
Binding: Hardcover
Published: 18 June 2013; Tor Books

Synopsis: The unhappy child of two powerful parents who despise each other, young Lilly turns to the ocean to find solace, which she finds in the form of the eloquent and intelligent sea monster Octavius, a kraken. In Octavius’s many arms, Lilly learns of friendship, loyalty, and family. When Octavius, forbidden by Lilly to harm humans, is captured by seafaring traders and sold to a circus, Lilly becomes his only hope for salvation. Desperate to find him, she strikes a bargain with a witch that carries a shocking price.

Her journey to win Octavius’s freedom is difficult. The circus master wants a Coat of Illusions; the Coat tailor wants her undead husband back from a witch; the witch wants her skin back from two bandits; the bandits just want some company, but they might kill her first. Lilly's quest tests her resolve, tries her patience, and leaves her transformed in every way.

A powerfully written debut from a young fantasy author,
Sea Change is an exhilarating tale of adventure, resilience, and selflessness in the name of friendship.

My Rating:

My Review: A brave young heroine. An unusual, yet poignant friendship. A harrowing journey of self discovery, perseverance, and how far one would go to save the person they love. Sound intriguing? That doesn't even scratch the surface when trying to describe Sea Change by the extremely talented S.M. Wheeler.  However, I am up for the challenge because I have a feeling that for every glowing review there will be some negative ones. Why? I fear that this novel will struggle to find its intended audience while others may pass harsh judgement before giving the story time to unfold and settle. I'm not trying to sound negative or set the book up for failure or insult the intelligence of my fellow readers. But this is a novel unlike anything I have ever read before and with this unique story comes very strong emotions. I can't help but want to protect it and defend its honor. But I need to stop being a mother bear and have faith that Sea Change can hold its own weight. My job is to explain why I liked it, what I had issues with, and let others know what to expect before delving in.

Let's start with the premise of the story as that is what drew me to Sea Change. Lilly is a young girl of marriageable age when we first meet her. Her parents, Nikolaus and Anna Rosa, where born country folk but worked their way up to nobility status. You learn rather quickly that Lilly's childhood consisted of her parents arguing constantly and the majority of the time it was about her. While some of the servants, in particular Miss Scholastika, try to shield her from the often devastating remarks, Lilly doesn't seem to react like one would expect. Instead of a deeply insecure little girl that feels sorry for herself, Lilly has the maturity of an old soul and seems remarkably unscathed despite the emotional and mental abuse from her parents, specifically her father, who doesn't even consider her his heir. Why? Because Lilly was born with a birthmark on her face, a mark that quite often resulted in her father calling her "hellspawn".

So where does this strength and resilience come from despite years of abuse? An unlikely friendship, one forged by the sea. S.M. Wheeler beautifully weaves in little vignettes of Lilly and her most precious friend Octavius, who just so happens to be a... kraken. Yes, a sea monster that in mythology has been described as gigantic and fearsome and most often the cause of shipwrecks. But in Sea Change, we get to see this legendary sea creature in a whole different light for Octavius is Lilly's true family, her protector, her confidante and loves her unconditionally. As Octavius grows larger, he is forced to hunt further out to sea for his food, sometimes disappearing for a week or two at a time. But when he does not return after an unusually long absence, Lilly knows deep in her heart that something wrong. Her most loyal friend would never abandon her, not like her very own mother. With fierce determination, Lilly sets out on her own to find Octavius, a journey that will change her in ways you could never imagine...

One of the things I loved about Sea Change is how the author creates this sense of magical realism in the beginning of the story and how it transitions into dark fantasy once Lilly sets out to find Octavius. The premise of the story is refreshingly original, but after her hasty, naive bargain with a troll that turns into a violent encounter in order to gain Octavius' whereabouts, I realized I was reading a story that could easily be considered a fairytale. But not just any fairytale. I'm talking about the old Brothers Grimm tales that were often dark, twisted, and frightening, and did not always have a happy ending.

Another thing that I enjoyed is the fact that S.M. Wheeler doesn't spell everything out for readers. For example, Lilly's birthmark was not something revealed right away. There were clues here and there, one such clue being a description of what I at first thought was a bruise on her face caused by her father. But I realized later it was in fact a birthmark: "...Miss Scholastika only rested it against Lilly's cheek, the side of her face where the skin looked darkly bruised, brown and black, swollen." What this forced me to do was slow down my reading and what a great eye opener this was for me. Being a blogger has its good points and bad points and one of these bad points is feeling the need to quickly finish one book so I can move onto the next. I got into this habit of thinking books that I finish reading quickly are the best kind of stories when that is not necessarily true. Sea Change is one of those novels that if you read it too quickly, you may just miss something. It's the type of book that should be savored and that is exactly what I've been forgetting to do. Just because a story may take more time to read doesn't mean it is any less powerful than others that you can't seem to put down.

I can't go any further in this review without praising the author's writing and boundless imagination. S.M. Wheeler is a master of beautiful, lyrical prose, which ties back into that  fairytale feel. There is some great use of personification and similes throughout the story as well. One of my favorites is during the scene when Lilly first meets Octavius. It was on Lilly's 8th birthday that she wandered down by the sea, searching for her bully of a cousin. She was just about to leave when she heard a noise and realized something was being eaten by a seagull. Octavius was only a tiny sea creature then and at the mercy of a hungry seagull. "Crying insults at her, the gull took flight" after she waved it away. I also love how Lilly gave Octavius his name and how the author chose to express it in words: "She looked to him, thinking: eight limbs, gold eyes, both intelligent and merry. It called for something with an ancient but teasing feel. 'Octavius! Or Octavia.--Which would you be?' 'The first one. I like the noises.' Again those arms wriggled with excitement. 'Octavius, Octavius--I'll have a name to tell the sirens when they say I will never grow big, I will say, I must match my long name by growing long. And the selkies cannot eat something with such a strong word-weapon.' He giggled, touched her cheek again. Fascinated with the texture of her skin, she realized. 'Thank You.'" 

Even though Lilly is the narrator, I like how S.M. Wheeler uses Octavius as a way to see the world in a different way. When Lilly is older and troubled over her father's reluctance to find her a suitable suitor, mainly because he is ashamed of the mark on her face, Octavius says, "I would parade you in the hall of the monarchs of the ocean if you could breathe water." Or Octavius describing the difference between man hunting wales and how he hunts them. He says: "There are men who hunt those waters for whales--and oh! the pitiful wailing of that proud people when the harpoons strike their sides. It is entirely unlike their war-bellows when I hunt them." Such an interesting way for us as the reader to see things the way Octavius does-- who would have thought that whales could be proud creatures that had their own "war bellows" when battling other sea creatures?

So here is what I had issues with. At first Lilly's journey is exciting, frightening, and even heart breaking. We meet an interesting array of characters, from a troll to a circus master, to a reanimated tailor that can make coats of illusions, to a skinless witch, to bandits. Her journey is fascinating yet hard to witness because the girl with an old soul that seemed so confident in the beginning of the story becomes stripped away. You get to see her naivety and innocence as she makes these life changing (and let's not forget physically altering) bargains and promises in order to win Octavius his freedom. But where the story starts to stutter is the rather long stay with the bandits. In order to help the witch get her skin back from the bandits (truly creepy, she reminds me of the woman in the movie Hellraiser II), she has to gain their trust, and trust takes time. But I think what is lacking is the void of Octavius. The first 50 pages built the foundation of their relationship through memories. Then the last 100 pages is Lilly finding her way back to Octavius. But during her stay with the bandits he is hardly mentioned if not at all. I guess what I am trying to say is, maybe an occasional dream or past memory of him would have helped break up the monotony. I get this is Lilly's story, but a reminder of what she is doing all this for would have helped because I myself was becoming restless. On the flipside of that, perhaps the lack of Octavius being mentioned was intentional by the author. After all, I know her stay with the bandits was a big part of her growth as a character because it was there that she learned how to prepare food, sew, take care of the sick-- all the skills she would need to survive in the world on her own. But I'd also like to think that Lilly's endurance and dedication to saving Octavius is what kept her going when most would have given up.

My only other gripe with the story is the rather abrupt ending. I don't need every book to have a happy ending nor do I need every plot point to be explained and tied up into neat little bows. And sometimes an ambiguous ending can be really thought provoking. However, Sea Change doesn't really do any of those things. It just...ends. I don't really want to say any more and this is NOT to discourage anyone from picking up the novel. Because despite the abrupt ending and the drawn out story in the middle, I still give Sea Change a 4 star rating. It's just THAT good. And while I may not be at liberty to say this, a sequel to Sea Change is being worked on. Whether or not it comes to fruition is something we all will have to wait and see.

Some books are more challenging than others and may require focus and careful reading. Sea Change is one of those books. At times it may confuse you, it may frustrate you, it may even lose you, but I promise if you stick it out, things will start to connect and come full circle. Although Lilly is technically a teenager, I would not recommend this novel for young children. I'm thinking 16 and older due to mature subject matter, disturbing and violent scenes.

"He is my oldest and dearest friend, she would say. A balm to my hurts and a brightness to my day."             
                                                                                                 --Lilly's thoughts on Octavius


AUTHOR Q&A WITH S.M. WHEELER, Author of Sea Change

1. After reading Sea Change which I found utterly captivating, thought-provoking, and a bit enigmatic, I wanted to learn more about the person who wrote such a unique story. But you seem as mysterious as your novel! Can you tell us a little about yourself and/or your background?

 I am tickled by the words you chose to describe the novel. It's very special to have that kind of reader response. On the topic of myself, there isn't much to tell. I grew up isolated and retain the habits developed in that time.

2. Sea Change has such an interesting premise that reminds me of the original Brothers Grimm Fairy Tales which were dark, twisted, and quite often frightening. What inspired you to write this story? Of all things for Lilly to form an unlikely friendship with, why a kraken?

 The Tales themselves had quite a lot to do with the motivation to write a novel that incorporated just those qualities which you have named. This was a milieu into which Lilly's personality fitted quite well; when you ask how a character develops as a person over the course of a work, the nature of the world should lend itself to the direction you wish to go. The first piece of prose I wrote with Lilly and Octavius was actually set in a contemporary world; that didn't work in the least. I might have gone towards post-apocalyptic or Western, I think (though obviously in the latter Octavius couldn't be a kraken!), but neither of those were my obsession at the time nor utilized the affection I still hold for fairytales and folklore.

For the record, I get questions about inspiration quite a lot, and I find myself answering differently each time. It's quite complicated.

As to the kraken-- good question! This is something I've written about at length elsewhere, but I'm still not sure of my own motivation. This sounds terribly odd and I don't particularly like saying it's all subconscious and whatnot, but that's really the best I have. Well, there's a bit more: it's fun writing about a creature that is all super-flexible limbs, cephalopods are cool creatures, and I think he suits Lilly much as the Brothers Grimm setting does.

3. After I read Sea Change and was doing a little research, I was surprised to see that it is being listed on many blogs/sites as Young Adult Fantasy. While I get that Lilly is no older than 18 in the story, I didn't get the vibe that Sea Change was a young adult novel. Can you clarify its genre and/or what the book is being marketed as?

I wrote it while in the "young adult" age bracket but not with the intention of its conforming to YA conventions. Marketing is an interesting topic and one that I leave to the experts. Sea Change is not categorized as a teen book on, so maybe that's the way it's being spun? I don't mind either way except that Wikipedia informs me that twelve years old is the lower limit of the YA demographic and I'd be alarmed if a kid that age asked me to sign a copy.

The fact that I had to check Wikipedia says something about my knowledge base, doesn't it? I'm really not familiar with the genre, though I've read some of the vampire and werewolf books in it (no shame, y'all; I respect Stiefvater's work in particular), which seems to be in a sub-genre of their own with close conformation to certain themes and plot arcs and not useful  in comparing Sea Change with.

That was a very roundabout way to say "I dunno", but there you have it.

4. The format of Sea Change is a little different from some traditional novels in that it does not have chapters. Any particular reason you chose this format?

Chapters never occurred to me as an option. Sea Change is vastly shorter than my other work, so sectioning it into smaller pieces wasn't intuitive. It's further distinguished from the other project by the continuity between scenes. For me, writing the book was a study in linking  one moment closely to the next.

5. As I stated in my review, I was a bit disgruntled at the abrupt ending of
Sea Change. Without any major spoilers, can you explain why? Is there a sequel in the works?

There is a potential sequel in the works. I won't make promises, because I feel terrible if I fell through on them. It's a fun project, though, and as of writing this I'm 20,000 words into it. These are good signs. There is a concept for a third book, but it exists currently as a smattering of snippets and a lot of ideas, so the lack of promises goes doubly for that.

The abrupt ending is a symptom of my having done such terribly things to Lilly that she doesn't have the mental or emotional energy to be a narrator anymore. POV characters need to really want something, and by the last scene she's put down that burden. It's my hope that seeing her from the outside will interest readers in the proposed second novel, and further that they will feel affection for the new narrator.

6. What are you working on now?

See above about the potential sequel. I also love taking prompts at my writing journal; those are a good way to loosen up my writing hand after a break, and I'm also lucky to have very intelligent people who are apt to spark inspiration with their suggestions. Meanwhile, there's also a novel in limbo about middle aged lesbians, colonial guilt, and the gradual crumbling of human architecture (literal and variously metaphorical). I really like that one.