I will be moving to Wordpress.com on October 1! My new URL will be exploringbystarlight.wordpress.com.

No Longer Updating...

I'm kind of sad to say, but I will no longer be updating Nerdette Reviews.

Since starting university, I no longer have the drive to keep the blog running on a regular basis and blogging has started to feel like a bit of a chore to me and that's sucked all of the fun out of it.

I will still be reviewing books over at Goodreads, but I won't be posting them here on the blog nor will I be participating in memes or posting film reviews.

I won't be deleting the blog entirely as I may decide to return to blogging properly again when I have the time and motivation.

Review: Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

Ready Player One
Ernest Cline
Genre: YA Dystopian / Science Fiction
Released: June 5th 2012
by Broadway Books
Source: Purchased
Rating: ★★★★

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It's the year 2044, and the real world has become an ugly place. We're out of oil. we've wrecked the climate. famine, poverty and disease are widespread.

Like most of humanity, Wade Watts escapes this depressing reality by spending his waking hours in the OASIS, a sprawling virtual utopia where you can be anything you want to be, where you can live and play and fall in love on any of ten thousand planets. and like most of humanity, wade is obsessed by the ultimate lottery ticket that lies concealed within this alternate reality: OASIS founder James Halliday, who dies with no heir, has promised that control of the OASIS - and his massive fortune - will go to the person who can solve the riddles he has left scattered throughout his creation.

For years, millions have struggled fruitlessly to attain this prize, knowing only that the riddles are based on Halliday's obsession with 80s pop culture. and then Wade stumbles onto the key to the first puzzle. suddenly, he finds himself pitted against thousands of competitors in a desperate race to claim the ultimate prize, a chase that soon takes on terrifying real-world dimensions - and that will leave both Wade and his world profoundly changed.
I love video games. I also really love reading (duh). So a book about a giant video game just seemed far too good to be true to me. At first, Ready Player One was a little too good to be true to the point that I was a little intimidated at first for two reasons: the first one being that the world-building had to be freaking huge, the second being that I know very little of 70s and 80s pop culture. I'm a product of the 90s, so I don't know much about entertainment from a little before my time. Thankfully, I was able to push past this intimidation and was able to really enjoy the book.

The story of Ready Player One revolves around a worldwide virtual easter egg hunt within a virtual-reality software called the OASIS. This egg hunt was set in motion by the OASIS's creator as a part of his will, with the prize being his entire fortune and the OASIS itself. Naturally, everyone wants to win the hunt but it has proven to be just a bit too difficult to crack and is left for five years, until one teenage boy cracks the first clue to finding the egg. I really enjoyed the story, but it actually took me two tries to fully get into the book because the beginning few chapters of the book were pretty hard-going for me to get through. We have four chapters of meaty world-building and backstories and then we're thrust into the story and it felt a bit jarring but I managed to push through and fully enjoy the story. I liked how exciting the book was for the most part, but there were some moments where the story moved particularly slow compared to other moments.

I think the best part of Ready Player One is definitely the characters, especially Wade himself. Wade isn't like most guys in YA fiction, he's not the one that you're meant to fall for and he most definitely is not the kind of guy that you'd swoon over. I think the fact that he's a realistic character makes him that much more likeable. He does have a sort of cynical view on everything that isn't the hunt, but at the same time it's a realistic view: the world as he knows it does suck and the only way to escape his crappy life is to go into the OASIS for hours on end and find the egg. I really liked Wade as a MC, and I enjoyed reading the story through his point of view.

Most of the action in Ready Player One takes place within the OASIS, and I really liked how much of a good image I had of how the various 'planets' within the VR would have looked. I had a bit of a doubt as to how this virtual world would be pulled off and I am glad to say that that doubt was completely smashed to smithereens thanks to how realistic it was described and written. In fact, I ended up preferring the virtual world to the book's 'real' world because that was where all the good stuff was happening.

I found Ready Player One to be very different to most dystopian novels, which is a much needed different. I enjoyed the world-building, even though it was a bit tough to chew at first, the characters and the way that the story played out. I would definitely recommend this book, even if you've grown tired of dystopians.

Review: Obsession by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Jennifer L. Armentrout
Genre: Adult Paranormal Romance / Science Fiction
Released: May 31 2013
by Entangled
Source: Purchased
Rating: ★★★★

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This is a stand alone novel that is an adult spin-off
of the Lux Series. You do not need to read a Lux book to read Obsession and vice versa.

He’s arrogant, domineering, and... To. Die. For.

Hunter is a ruthless killer. And the Department of Defense has him firmly in their grasp, which usually doesn’t chafe too badly because he gets to kill bad guys. Most of the time he enjoys his job. That is, until he’s saddled with something he’s never had to do before: protect a human from his mortal enemy.

Serena Cross didn’t believe her best friend when she claimed to have seen the son of a powerful senator turn into something... unnatural. Who would? But then she witnesses her friend’s murder at the hands of what can only be an alien, thrusting her into a world that will kill to protect their secret.

Hunter stirs Serena’s temper and her lust despite their differences. Soon he’s doing the unthinkable—breaking the rules he’s lived by, going against the government to keep Serena safe. But are the aliens and the government the biggest threats to Serena’s life… or is it Hunter?
If there’s any genre that I usually tend to shy away from, it’s adult romance. I’m usually a little apprehensive of what content I’m going to get, since adult and erotic aren’t exactly the same thing when it comes to books. However, after reading American Psycho (which is graphically explicit) I’ve gained a backbone and am now not bothered by much so I decided to give Obsession a go. I love Jennifer L. Armentrout’s Lux series, so wanting to read this book was a complete no-brainer for me. More hot aliens!

It’s not required that you read the Lux series before reading Obsession, but I read the book after I’d read Opal, since that is when the book takes place and I’m weirdly OCD about doing things in chronological order. Obsession starts with what is possibly the most exciting opening I’ve read in quite a while. No, really, one chapter in and shit’s already going down. What better way of opening a book that getting to the point? I really liked how even though we have the two alien species that we know from the Lux series, we see them from a different perspective. Since we’re with Hunter, an Arum, most of the time, the Luxen of Obsession feel pretty malevolent most of the time, which I initially felt quite uneasy about. I didn’t want to dislike the Luxen, but I was growing to sort of like the Arum at the same time and ended up being caught in the middle. Moving on to the more romantic aspects of the book, there is not more that I can say that Obsession gets pretty steamy at times, like ‘open the windows I can’t see out of them’ steamy. My one little problem, however, and this is more of a ‘it’s not you, it’s me’ kind of thing is that I got just a little bit impatient at times. I’m not a fan of when the sensuality builds and builds, and then just completely goes away because the characters have decided against it. However, when that stopped happening, I was more than pleased.

I really liked the characters in Obsession and how they jumped from the page. I loved Serena’s personality, which made her an awesome MC. She was snarky and just refused to take crap from anybody, including Hunter. I also loved how feisty she was and never gave in, not once and I just loved how awesome she was. Moving on to Hunter, I have very little to say other than gimme. I want my own Hunter, and I want him yesterday. Even though he is a jerk at first, I did warm up to him because he’s just really one big tease and he really does care about Serena; he’s not just protecting her so that he can kill some Luxen. And one thing that I won’t say much about, is that I really liked how we see three familiar faces later one in the story (one of them isn’t referred to fully but I knew straight away who it was).

Obsession is told from both Serena and Hunter’s point of view, which threw me off guard a little bit at first but it didn’t take long for me to get adjusted.  Out of the two, I think I liked Hunter’s POV the most, but I can’t put my finger on exactly why I liked his more. I think maybe reading from his POV made him seem more likeable, since if the book was in Serena’s POV all the way through, I mightn’t have liked him as much as I did.

Overall, I really enjoyed Obsession and how it showed a more adult side to the world of the Lux series. I found myself coming back time and time again to continue on with the story and it wasn’t put down for long. Even though this is a stand alone novel, I would like to see more adult ventures into the Lux world!

Review: Shark Bait by Jenn Cooksey

Shark Bait
Jenn Cooksey
Series: Grab Your Pole #1
Genre: YA Contemporary Romance
Released: June 15 2012
Source: Purchased
Rating: ★★★★

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Previously homeschooled Camie Ramsey is being shoved into the shark-infested waters of public high school, where even helium filled, penguin bespeckled arm floaties likely won’t help keep her inexperienced, fifteen-year old head above water in that rip current of hormones and emotions.

Camie’s worldly wisdom might be severely lacking (i.e., the closest she’s come to being kissed was sitting too close to the TV whilst Jake Ryan leaned in to give Samantha that fateful 16th birthday kiss), but she does understand her only hope for survival is if she’s thrown some kind of “social” life preserver before she sinks like a freaking rock. However, what will her fate be when she endeavors to flag down the only lifeguard on duty, the enormously popular and ridiculously beautiful Tristan Daniels? The most sought after and virtually most unattainable guy in school who not only makes Camie’s heart flatline on a recurring basis, he’s also the one guy who seemingly doesn’t know she exists.

Feeling like an inept piece of chum that could ultimately be swallowed by Jaws, can Camie get Tristan to rescue her from floundering in the treacherous deep, or is she destined to be Shark Bait?
I made a goal to read more contemporaries this summer, since I am being a little burnt out by all of the sci-fi and dystopians I read (sacrilegious words from my mouth). Shark Bait is a book I'd been meaning to read for a while but didn't get round to purchasing a copy until recently, so I decided to make it the first contemporary of my summer. That was definitely a good decision!

Shark Bait introduces us to Camie, who is starting public school for the first time after being homeschooled for so long and has pretty much been thrown into the deep end. On her first day, she sees the gorgeous Tristan Daniels and becomes determined to make him hers. With the help of her new friends Kate and Melissa, who have known Tristan for an eternity, she plans to get together with Tristan and all kinds of kookiness ensues. While I did enjoy Shark Bait's story, I thought that certain parts of the story happened just a little bit too fast that at the beginning it felt just a little bit like the dreaded insta-love. Thankfully, it sort of wasn't and Camie might have been purposefully exaggerating. I loved how light-hearted and funny the story was, which is what I needed after reading so many dark-ish books with sad endings lately. I found myself smiling while reading and even laughing at times (I very rarely laugh at books), which is a definite plus in my book.

From the first sentence, I knew that I was going to like Camie. I loved how witty she is, how smart she is and also how she didn't become like a little lovesick puppy whenever things didn't go right. Whenever something went wrong, she knew that she had messed up badly and needed to fix it as soon as possible before it started to eat up her insides. I really enjoyed reading her narrate the story, which didn't bore me at any point at all.

I had a little bit of a mixed reaction to Tristan and my attitude towards him changed just a little as the story progressed. At first I liked him, he was a super nice guy who just happened to be hot and he was also witty like Camie and the two of them would fit together like a hand in a glove. However, a little bit into the middle of the book I started to not like him as much as I did before because something that happened made him act completely irrationally and take his anger out on Camie without listening to reason. Not cool, dude. Not cool. There were a few moments where this happened again, but thankfully everything was resolved and I started to like him again. Yay!

I love the way that Shark Bait is written. Even though I might not understand them sometimes, I love pop culture references and there are plenty of them peppered throughout the book. I'm not an expert on 1980's pop culture or Buffy the Vampire Slayer, so there were plenty of things that went over my young head, but that's okay because I still found them fun and, honestly, if a guy asked me out by quoting a line from my favourite TV show (I don't know how that would work, since there isn't much romance in the shows I watch) I would say yes in a heartbeat. I loved how funny the book is, thanks to Camie's witty personality, and I also loved the more tender moments in the story.

Despite a few issues I had with the story, I really enjoyed Shark Bait. I liked its humour, its romance, its characters and its numerous pop culture references. I had a lot of fun reading the book and I will definitely be continuing with the series!

Review: Opal by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Jennifer L. Armentrout
Series: Lux #3
Genre: YA Science Fiction / Paranormal Romance
Publication date: December 1 2012
by Entangled Teen
Source: Purchased
Rating: ★★★★

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No one is like Daemon Black.

When he set out to prove his feelings for me, he wasn't fooling around. Doubting him isn't something I'll do again, and now that we've made it through the rough patches, well... There's a lot of spontaneous combustion going on.

But even he can't protect his family from the danger of trying to free those they love.

After everything, I'm not longer the same Katy. I'm different... And I'm not sure what that will mean in the end. When each step we take in discovering the truth puts us in the path of the secret organization responsible for torturing and testing hybrids, the more I realize there is no end to what I'm capable of. The death of someone close still lingers, help comes from the most unlikely source, and friends will become the deadliest of enemies, but we won't turn back. Even if the outcome will shatter our worlds forever.

Together we're stronger... and they know it.
I am so in love with the Lux series, it's insane. Seriously, I had wanted to get so many other books out of the way so that I could read Opal, I was that excited to read it. It doesn't really surprise me that I liked the book as much as I did - I mean, I finished it in two days and stayed up until 2 AM to finish it. On a Sunday. But, despite how quickly I devoured and liked Opal, I don't think it's the best book in the series, for a couple of reasons.

Due to a ma-hoo-sive spoiler that occurs at the end of Onyx and is a main part of Opal, I won't be summarising the plot like I usually do in reviews and we'll move straight on to my reactions. At the beginning of the book, I took me a very brief while to get back into the feel of the series, since I had read Onyx quite a while ago. Luckily, it didn't take me long to do that but I did find the beginning to be just a little slow and it took a while to get properly into the story. Once I'd gotten past the beginning, I did not want to stop. At all. I really liked the way that things progressed; there were very few moments that bored me and I was kept excited to keep turning the pages and continuing on with the story. And then, that ending. That. Freaking. Ending. That was just mean. How can Jennifer Armentrout do this to me? I feel like a piece of my soul is missing, that was so heartbreaking! I need a moment...

My main reason as to why I don't think Opal is the best book in the series, is sadly down to Katy and Daemon. As much as it pains me to say, certain things they said and did just irked me a little bit. Daemon was protective of Katy before, but now that they're officially together, he got scarily protective. As in threatening to hurt a certain person if they even spoke to her. No. Just no. Daemon, I get that you really like Katy, she means a lot to you and you don't want to see her get hurt. But that doesn't mean that you have to make threats against another person's life, just because they want to speak to her. Seriously, calm down. I was really , really hoping that he wouldn't turn into one of those *whispers*Edward Cullen (I sure hope no one heard that) kinds of guys with his overprotectiveness, but thankfully he didn't. Phew. But the fact that he was inching just that little bit closer worried me a bit. Katy didn't bother me as much as Daemon did at times, but there was a moment where I wanted to sit her down and tell her what was up. She got jealous over something that had happened a long time ago, that something being Daemon's past relationship with Ash. I'm sorry, but there is nothing I hate more than when a girl freaks out and is insanely jealous over her boyfriend's ex-girlfriend. Why? He's not dating her, he's dating you, Katy. You also need to calm down!

Okay, rant over.

One of my favourite things about the Lux is that even though it is technically a romance series, we still get a fair share of science-fiction in here, which makes me an incredibly happy bunny. I really enjoyed seeing Katy training with Blake and the Luxen to take control of the abilities she gained in Onyx and also becoming stronger in the process. That's not to say that I don't like the more romantic aspects of the series, because I do. Some scenes are particularly interesting, if you know what I mean. Sometimes I found myself rereading certain passages, just to make sure my brain wasn't playing tricks on me.

Despite my few issues with the book, I really did enjoy Opal. I loved the way that the story flowed and how exciting it was at times and I am still in recovery from that ending. And now to wait for me to gain that part of my soul back when I get to read Origin!

Stacking the Shelves (10)

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews, in which I showcase books that I have received in this week.

Hello my duckies, I'm finally back! During my two weeks of absence I took my time with my reading, rather than reading in huge chunks like I usually do; it's definitely got me motivated to continue updating the blog! Also, while I took some time off, I was reminded of why I don't really like to read outdoors: I got a nasty sunburn on the back of my hand while reading outdoors. Ouch >.< My reading will be kept indoors from now on! Anyways, on to the books!



Don't forget to leave me a link to your post so I can
pop by and see what you got!

Review: Splendour by Anna Godbersen

Anna Godbersen
Series: The Luxe #4
Genre: YA Historical
Released: October 2009
by Harper
Source: Borrowed from the library
Rating: ★★

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New York City, 1900

While the once revered Holland family recovers from scandal, the spirited Miss Diana Holland is seeking adventure abroad. But then a surprising clue about her father's death is revealed and everything is thrown into question.

Meanwhile, the delectable Henry Schoonmaker has also left the city and bravely gone to war while his wife relishes her role as Manhattan royalty - until a real prince pays a visit and turns her fickle head.

As New York's most dazzling stars chase dreams, cling to promises and tempt fate, society wonders: at exactly what prince does a life of splendour come?
I've finally finished The Luxe series! Finally! I hadn't found the series to be too impressive since the story tends to run quite slowly (that can be partly owed to the fact that very little things that stand out happened in the time period that the series is set in), but I really do like Anna Godbersen and I was willing to give the final book in the series a chance, hoping that the ending would be satisfying. That didn't happen. For me, Splendour was so meh, that I just didn't react to any of it. Not even the bigger events.

My main problem with Splendour is that so little happened throughout the story that once things that would have been remotely exciting started to happen, my brain was just numb and refused to register a response. Towards the end, this happened just a little bit too much. I didn't feel a single thing at all and that kind of worries me. Do I have a soul for not reacting to the compromising situations that these dull flat characters find themselves in? Probably but I'll gain it back when I read something that actually makes me feel things.

One of the most disappointing things I thought occurred in Splendour is that the character development that appeared in Rumours and Envy is just completely thrown out of the window, except in one case. Penelope is still the horrible person that I would love to slaughter and leave for everyone to find, while Elizabeth has gone back to being dull and controlled which bored me so much. When she finally did show a backbone, I didn't think much of it thanks to my numb brain. Another change in character that I didn't react much to was the fact that towards the end of the book, Henry finally, finally, asserted himself and pretty much told people where to go. But, again, my brain was so numb by this point that I thought "good for him, should have done that sooner though".

I have said in past reviews that I really like Anna Godbersen's writing style but I completely take that back. After four books of flowery fluff and describing people's frocks that actually sound quite hideous at times, I feel like my puke would be floral patterned. I honestly prefer the way that the books in the Bright Young Things series were written. It's still a bit flowery, but nowhere near as flowery as here.

In all complete honestly, as odd as this sounds, I would have rather that this book was absolutely freaking terrible because then I would've actually had a reaction and this review would have been a whole lot easier to write. The fact that I just didn't react is more frustrating that if I had wanted to throw the book into a woodchipper. Meh.

Follow Friday (28)

Feature & Follow Friday is a weekly blog hop hosted by Parajunkee's View and Alison Can Read.

Q: What do you do with your books after you've finished reading them?

If they belong to me, I put them back on my shelf where I'll probably come back and re-read them some time in the future; if I've borrowed them from a friend, I'll give them back when I see them next; or if they're from the library, I'll return them at the soonest chance I get!

Happy Friday!

Review: The Heat (2013)

The Heat
Directed by: Paul Feig
Starring: Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy
Genre: Comedy / Action
Released: June 28 (USA) July 31 (UK) 2013
by 20th Century Fox Pictures
Running time: 117 minutes (1 hr, 57 mins)
Rated: 15 (BBFC) R (MPAA)
Rating: ★★★★

IMDb | View Trailer
Sarah Ashburn, an FBI agent, is extremely ambitious and has her eye on a promotion, but she doesn't get along with her co-workers. She is sent to Boston to uncover the identity of an elusive drug lord, Larkin, by tracking down his proxy, Rojas, and is told that she'll have a good shot at the promotion if she finds Larkin. When she arrives in Boston, she learns that Larkin has been eliminating his competition and taking over their operations. She learns that Rojas is in Boston PD custody and goes to see him to ask him what he knows about Larkin, but is warned that the cop who arrested Rojas, Shannon Mullins, is very territorial, and she is not exactly sociable. When the two meet they don't get along. When Mullins learns why Ashburn is in Boston, she decides to find Larkin herself. Ashburn is told by her boss to work with Mullins, but it won't be easy because Ashburn does things by the book while Mullins does things her way.
I haven't watched many comedy films for quite some time now, since the recent film season has been quite action-and-explosion-oriented, which doesn't really bother me but sometimes I do like to watch a film that doesn't have me gripping the edge of my seat and jumping all the time. Even though The Heat technically falls under the sub-genre of action, I was incredibly eager to finally see something funny (and for free too, since my dad and I had free tickets to an advanced screening). I wasn't too sure about the kind of humour that the film would have, but Sandra Bullock is one of my favourite actresses so I did kind of expect great acting, which I'll get on to in a little bit.

The Heat is about FBI agent Sarah Ashburn who is assigned with finding a notorious drug lord in Boston and ends up being partnered with Shannon Mullins, a rebellious and territorial police officer. I really liked how straightforward the story is and how smoothly it flowed, and on top of that I loved how funny the film is. There are so many funny moments that I found it quite hard to pick a favourite moment, but my two favourite moments are the scene where Mullins cuts up Ashburn's clothes and the scene where they get drunk in a bar and dance to Deee-Lite's Grove Is in the Heart. The action of the film is nicely woven into the humour with some of the action scenes employing good physical comedy, especially when it comes to scenes that show Mullins's rough authority style.

As a duo, Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy worked together really well. The characters of Ashburn and Mullins are so different from each other that they are an example of a classic comedy duo: Ashburn being the level-headed agent who works by the book, and Mullins being the loud-mouthed, streetwise cop who does things her own way. I loved seeing how they progressed from disagreeing with how the other works, to working together as the perfect team. As I'd said above, Sandra Bullock is one of my favourite actresses and I loved her performance as Ashburn. Her comic timing is really spot-on and in sync with Melissa McCarthy who gives an awesome performance as Mullins, and never failed to make me laugh. I really hope that they do another film together in the future because they worked together really well.

As The Heat is an action film, as well as a comedy, there is quite a bit of action, however, it doesn't really crop up until toward the end of the film. I would've preferred it if it was distributed evenly throughout the film instead of being almost all-at-once. But that aside, I loved how it was two awesome ladies kicking ass and toting firearms, which is something that isn't seen very often in the male-centric action genre.

I loved the use of music in The Heat, which varies quite a bit. The music used in the opening credits feels quite reminiscent of buddy cop films and TV shows of the 1970's and 80's, and there is very good use of licensed music from some awesome female rappers, which really helps to set the mood for some of the scenes that drip with badassery. I don't think there was any time that I thought that the music use was bad or unnecessary.

Overall, I really liked The Heat. I loved its humour, its heart and its action, but I do wish that the action had been distributed evenly as it does appear in one go towards the end. I will definitely be going to see this film again!

Review: Nomad by J.L. Bryan

J.L. Bryan
Genre: NA Dystopian / Science Fiction
Release date: July 26 2013
Source: Received from the author for review
Rating: ★★★★

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They took everything: her family, her home, her childhood.

By the age of nineteen, Raven has spent most of her life in the sprawling slums of America, fighting as a rebel against the dictatorship. When the rebellion steals an experimental time-travel device, she travels back five decades to the year 2013. Her plan: assassinate the future dictator when he is still young and vulnerable, long before he comes to power. She must move fast to reshape history, because agents from her own time are on her trail, ready to execute her on sight.

Although I had only read two of JL Bryan’s books prior to reading Nomad, I would definitely consider myself of his awesome and unique work. I just could not turn down Nomad, but I wouldn’t have wanted to anyway because it falls under the category of my favourite genre: my beloved science fiction. Plus, there’s time travel! Infinite win! I think it’s safe to say that I kind of had a good feeling that I wouldn’t be disappointed and it’s a good thing that I trusted that good feeling because I definitely wasn’t disappointed at all!

As soon as Nomad begins, we meet Raven who finds herself alone in the middle of a highway, unable to remember where she is or where she came from, with only a few select images standing out in her memory. As she goes on her way, she gradually remembers what she is doing and that she has arrived in 2013 from the year 2064, where the United States has become a horrific dictatorship with many people living in poverty, including Raven herself. From a weird gizmo she has found on herself, she is reminded of what it is she has to do: she must find the future dictator and assassinate him before he comes into power. I love how we are thrust straight into the action once the book begins, which told me that I was in for something totally awesome. Throughout the plot, there are flash-forwards to Raven’s time which help to explain her mission, what is going on in the future and also the whole concept of time travel and what happens when history is changed, which I thought was explained very clearly. I didn’t have any problem with following the storyline and the time travel concept and I found it very interesting and original. Although I liked the way that the story progressed as a whole, I did find some parts of the book to be just a little bit slow compared to other parts.

Our heroine, Raven, is just all kinds of awesome and I loved her for that. She is strong, smart and really knew what she was doing. I liked how she was able to gather her thoughts relatively quickly so that she was able to get on with her mission as swiftly as possible and do the best job possible and also that she didn’t let on to anybody that she was from the future, that can be due to how well she managed to integrate with our modern society. I really admired how intelligent she was. She thought out everything carefully and considered both the benefits and consequences of her actions, rather than just going head first into doing something. I also loved how badass she is: this girl knows how to kick some butt and handle a weapon. What could be more awesome than that?

Even though Nomad primarily takes place in our time, I really liked the world-building of the future. I enjoyed learning about how far technology has advanced and also how the general state of things in the US has deteriorated to the point of extreme poverty (hopefully something like that wouldn’t happen in real life, or even in the UK where I am!). Thanks to the fantastic world-building, I really enjoyed the flash-forwards and was always excited to return to this harrowing future that I certainly would not hope for.

I loved how unique Nomad is; I haven’t read many dystopians that feature time travel, which has been done so well here. I wasn’t confused by anything at all, but the book did leave me wondering a few times. Every time I came back to the story, I just read and didn’t want to stop (unfortunately, the real world gets in the way) because I was enjoying the story so much. However, there were a few slower moments here and there, but once I’d gotten past them they were definitely worth it due to the book’s awesome ending that I kind of didn’t expect.

Cover Reveal: Nomad by JL Bryan

Nomad by JL Bryan
Expected publication: July 26 2013

They took everything: her family, her home, her childhood.

By the age of nineteen, Raven has spent most of her life in the sprawling slums of America, fighting as a rebel against the dictatorship. When the rebellion steals an experimental time-travel device, she travels back five decades to the year 2013. Her plan: assassinate the future dictator while he is still young and vulnerable, long before he comes to power. She must move fast to reshape history, because agents from her own time are on her trail, ready to execute her on sight.

I am so excited for Nomad! And just look at its cover, how awesome is it?! I loved how awesome Jenny Pox was (I still need to read the rest of the series) so I have absolutely no doubts whatsoever that Nomad will be amazing. Also, pink hair? So cool.

About the author:
J.L. Bryan studied English literature at the University of Georgia and at Oxford, with a focus on English Renaissance and Romantic literature. He also studied screenwriting at UCLA. He lives in Atlanta with his wife Christina, dogs Violet and Tiger Lily, and cats Shadow and Sue.

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Review: Man of Steel (2013)

Man of Steel
Directed by: Zack Snyder
Starring: Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Michael Shannon, et al.
Based on: characters by Jerry Siegel and Joel Schuster
Genre: Superhero / Action
Released: June 14 2013
by Warner Bros. Pictures
Running time: 143 mins (2 hr, 23 mins)
Cert: 12 (BBFC) PG-13 (MPAA)
Rating: ★★★★★

IMDb | View Trailer
A young boy learns that he has extraordinary powers and is not of this Earth. As a young man, he journeys to discover where he came from and what he was sent here to do. But the hero in him must emerge if he is to save the world from annihilation and become the symbol of hope for all mankind.
Poor old Superman hasn't been in a film that's done him justice since Superman II in 1980. That was 33 years ago. Superman III and Superman Returns were meh material (I will admit, I did enjoy Returns the first time I saw it) and Superman IV: The Quest for Peace was so strange I can't even begin to understand what was going on when Christopher Reeve co-wrote it. Fair enough, TV did a pretty okay job of it but when Man of Steel was first confirmed, myself and a lot of other comic book fans were a little worried and seriously hoped that Snyder, Christopher Nolan and David S. Goyer had gotten it right. I think they definitely did him some justice, with some very original re-imagining.

Man of Steel has a very different take on the original Superman mythos. Rather than having Clark Kent already knowing what it is that he is going to do in terms of being a hero and working at the Daily Planet, he's portrayed as being lost and somewhat confused in terms of who exactly he is. He doesn't feel like he's a part of humanity, which I assume has been inspired by Alex Ross and Mark Waid's mini-series Kingdom Come which deals with a Superman who feels he is losing touch with his humanity. We get more of an insight into Clark's childhood, which previous films hadn't really done, and we also see him doing various menial jobs, such as working in a bar, on a fishing boat and at something in the North Pole that I don't know the name of. The part of the film's story that I was really glad was there were the scenes on Krypton. I am so glad that we got to see Jor-El and Lara do a lot more than simply deliver the child, put him in the spaceship and say goodbye while the planet implodes, like they did in Superman: The Motion Picture. I really enjoyed this darker take on the origin story, it felt very fresh to me. One thing that my dad and I were a little bit divided on was the end of the battle with Zod. My dad disagreed with it, while I supported it. I think it gave a bit of an insight to why Superman has the morals that he does, rather than 'that's how he was raised', and also the effect that it had on him personally. Speaking of battles, there is a lot of action in this film, but it's not completely meaningless or random because it does go along with the story and actually helps to advance it, which isn't something that is usually expected of action scenes. I didn't mind so much action because we do get several quieter, tender moments at intervals and even a nicely executed false jump scene.

The cast of Man of Steel is just a huge piece of casting genius. That is probably the only way I'll describe it, now let's all go home. I'm just kidding, I'll elaborate. The film already had a great plot to begin with, and the cast just makes it even better than making it larger than life. And there's also a lot of eye candy in the leading man. I watched this film for the acting, I swear I did...

I'd never seen Henry Cavill act before watching the film, so I didn't really know of what to expect from him. Other than his unbelievable handsomeness. Alright, I'll stop with that. I was really hoping that he wouldn't do an impression of Christopher Reeve, like Brandon Routh sort of did in Superman Returns, and form his own interpretation of the character. I am more than thankful for the fact that he had done his reading and made the character both true to the canon material and to the film's plot. I can't think of anyone else playing the part now, his performance was just so perfect that it didn't feel like I was watching Henry Cavill on the screen, it felt like I was actually seeing Superman.

Amy Adams' performance as Lois Lane is now very likely my favourite incarnation of the character to date. I'm a fan of Teri Hatcher's interpretation on Lois & Clark, but I definitely think that Adams' performance is better for modern day and also the tone of the film. I really liked how they took out Lois's difficulty with spelling because I never thought that it was necessary and in past material it felt more like a running gag than a part of her character. One thing I really liked about this incarnation of Lois is that even though she is determined to find Superman and find out who he is (like Lois always was up until the 90's), she isn't obsessed with having him as a romantic partner as many Loises were in the past.

I loved Michael Shannon's General Zod surprisingly a lot more than I liked Terence Stamp's in Superman II. He was incredibly vicious and animalistic, compared to Stamp who was more charismatic and even somewhat collected. It makes more sense that Zod would be vicious because as he says himself in the film he was born to be a warrior, and the vast majority of warriors are incredibly relentless to the point that they have next to no control of themselves, just like how Zod initially is when he first walks on the Earth's surface. Shannon's incarnation of the character is probably the best villain that I have seen all year, it was just pure awesome. And speaking of awesome, I just have to give some praise to how Faora (played by Antje Traue) was shown to be such a bad-ass. Serious kudos there, she's awesome.

I am about to do something that I would never have heard myself say until now: Russell Crowe's Jor-El is miles better than Marlon Brando's. I really hate myself for saying so because Brando is my favourite actor ever, but it's true. Part of that can be owed to the fact that Crowe probably didn't take the part for the money (Brando did) and learnt his lines that weren't taped to a baby's nappy (which is what Brando did because he refused to learn his lines at that point in his career). As I said above, I really loved being able to see Jor-El and Lara do more at the beginning of the film, rather than send the baby to Earth and then die. I've never really known much about the House of El and being able to see them do more really helped me to understand them a lot more and why they did what they did. Another thing I really liked was how Jor-El appeared many times throughout the film through the use of Kryptonian technology, rather than just at the beginning as an automated image that says the same thing, like in Superman and Superman Returns.

A Superman film wouldn't be a Superman film if it didn't have spectacular special effects. A large part of Man of Steel's overall look is SFX, and it is just awesome to look at, especially when showcasing Superman's powers. My personal favourite was the heat-vision which looks like it would actually be quite painful for him for use, and also the flying scenes which are just stunning. There are also a lot of things blowing up and buildings being destroyed, which is staggering to look at. The amount of carnage that has been created through technology is amazing to look at. However, I have just one little quib and it's with camera movement. My least favourite camera technique ever is handheld. It makes me feel like I'm going to puke and hurts my eyes. There were a few times that I did have to look at my knees to orientate my vision due to the camera shaking so much. A little less of that would have been nice for me and that's the only reason why Man of Steel just missed out a perfect rating.

Moving onto the film's music; as soon as Hans Zimmer was announced as the composer, I know that the score would be nothing but pure awesome. His scores for all three Batman films were outstanding; as is his work on other films (even his score for one of the Call of Duty games was pretty good). I liked how it had a slight similarity to the music from the Batman films, but it was unique at the same time and more suited to the Superman character. There were a few instances where I thought that it wasn't exactly necessary to have music in the scene, but I did enjoy hearing it when it was more appropriate.

After gushing so much, there is only one way that I can now put into words how much I loved Man of Steel, and that is my oft-used tag on my Tumblr: I need a moment (you should totally click that link; it's eye candy).

Review: The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey

The 5th Wave
Rick Yancey
Series: The Fifth Wave #1
Genre: YA Science Fiction / Dystopia
Released: May 7th 2013
by Putnam Juvenile
Source: Purchased
Rating: ★★★★★+

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The Passage meets Ender’s Game in an epic new series from award-winning author Rick Yancey.

After the 1st wave, only darkness remains. After the 2nd, only the lucky escape. And after the 3rd, only the unlucky survive. After the 4th wave, only one rule applies: trust no one.

Now, it’s the dawn of the 5th wave, and on a lonely stretch of highway, Cassie runs from Them. The beings who only look human, who roam the countryside killing anyone they see. Who have scattered Earth’s last survivors. To stay alone is to stay alive, Cassie believes, until she meets Evan Walker. Beguiling and mysterious, Evan Walker may be Cassie’s only hope for rescuing her brother—or even saving herself. But Cassie must choose: between trust and despair, between defiance and surrender, between life and death. To give up or to get up.
The 5th Wave is the book that I've seen getting a lot of hype around the blogosphere recently, but I usually don't pay attention to books while they're being hyped up unless there's something about it that just screams 'read me now, not later!' Do I even need to say what it was about The 5th Wave that made me run out and buy a copy? ALIEN INVASION! My good ol' friends the aliens are just far too cool for me to turn my back on and I haven't had any malevolent aliens recently (just a lot of coexisting somewhat peacefully). With all of the positive reviews that I've seen recently, it's safe to say that I had incredibly high hopes for The 5th Wave. Those hopes were satisfied so much that I can't even begin to comprehend it.

The 5th Wave tells of an alien attack on Earth that has so far taken place in four stages, or 'waves; in the first wave, the world's power was cut; the second saw entire cities flooded and billions of people killed; the third had people being infected with a horrific disease that ended with blood violently expelling from the body; the fourth wave left people no longer being able to trust one another. And the fifth? Nobody knows yet, and that's the frightening part. We're introduced to Cassie (short for Cassieopeia) whose life is completely transformed by the apocalypse. Her mother was taken by the 3rd wave and her father has taken her and her little brother Sammy to a camp where they'll be safe. After Sammy is taken to a military camp where they're told he'll be even safer, Cassie promises to return to him. What I loved the most about The 5th Wave is that it kept me interested all the way through, even during slower parts. It was exciting, tense and thrilling to the point that I wished it could have gone on forever. Unfortunately, the world doesn't work that way, and the book had to end. Wah. The story doesn't just focus on Cassie, there is a second POV that I'm not going to say much about because I want to keep this as spoiler-free as possible. I love how this second story is in the book because I honestly don't think that the book would have been as awesome if it has just focused on Cassie. I really liked being able to see the apocalypse from another person's point of view.

Speaking of Cassie, this girlie is just so freaking awesome. Seriously, she is such a badass that she's probably one of the best female protagonists that I've read this year. Maybe even ever! I love how she doesn't take any crap from anybody and keeps a cool head throughout everything, no matter how dire the situation. I loved her determination to return to her brother and how she didn't let anything get in her way. I don't think I could say enough about how much of an awesome protagonist she is. Other than Cassie, I liked pretty much all of the characters in the book. They were very well fleshed-out and felt natural to read. And also, Evan is pretty hot. That is all I have to say on that matter.

I loved the aliens of The 5th Wave, they were done so well! I loved that we sort of don't see the aliens at all, but their presence is felt all the way throughout the book. I always feel that the 'monsters' in something are more frightening if you don't see them, compared to if they were there all of the time. However, I haven't read or seen much stuff where aliens aren't seen because a lot of things with aliens feature creatures that are so original that they almost need to be shown. But, not seeing them definitely adds to how tense the book feels, and it gets pretty tense at times.

Gah, I don't think I can praise this book enough. I loved everything about The 5th Wave, it was so exciting! The story was thrilling, the characters were awesome and everything was just so perfect. I've been left with a pretty bad book hangover here and the next book in the series isn't out until summer next year. I want it now! But, the world doesn't work that way so I'll definitely be revisiting The 5th Wave.

Review: Shift by Em Bailey

Em Bailey
Genre: YA Contemporary Mystery / Thriller
Published: May 7th 2012
by Electric Monkey
Source: Purchased
Rating: ★★★★

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There were two things everyone knew about Miranda Vaile before she'd even started at our school. The first was that she had no parents - they were dead. And the second was that they were dead because Miranda had killed them.

Olive used to be the school queen-bee. But that was before her breakdown. Now she's the class loner, and can only watch as new girl Miranda latches on to Olive's ex-best friend Katie. Soon Miranda is talking like Katie, dressing like Katie - even going out with Katie's boyfriend.

And then Katie dies. Everyone seems to believe it was a tragic accident, but Olive isn't so sure. What if the wild rumours are true? What if Miranda really is a killer?
I've seen Shift in the bookshops for quite some time but I never really looked at the back of the book until fairly recently. The cover just really stands out on a shelf to me even though it doesn't use as much colour as most other eye-catching book covers. There's just something about distorted human faces that interest me. I love mysteries and as soon as I read the somewhat mysterious synopsis on the back of the book, I knew that I just had to read Shift. I haven't read very many YA mysteries but after reading this book, I was very impressed!

Shift tells the story of former queen-bee Olive who has become the class loner after suffering a severe mental breakdown and attempting suicide after her dad left the family. At school, a mysterious new girl called Miranda starts at Olive's school and very quickly latches onto Olive's former best friend Katie and becomes nearly her clone, while Katie slowly withers away. My only problem with Shift's story is that it takes a little while to get into swing, but it doesn't take too long to get to the mystery and thrills, which are present all the way through the book. I was really surprised by all of the reveals and even shocked at what happens to some characters. I enjoyed every twist and turn and the novel's climax had my heart racing a mile a second.

The characters of Shift come in a close second as to why I liked the book so much. They really did make the story just that little bit better. I loved Olive as a MC, she is unique from most main characters I've read in quite a few ways. I'd never read from the point of view of a character who was suffering from a mental illness or one that was taking medication for it. Even her best friend Ami was possibly as unique as I've ever read in a book, but you'll have to read the book to find out why she's so different. Going back to Olive, I loved how real she was, tons of people experience the same things that she does and I found it really informative being able to know what she felt and almost understanding what it would be like. As for Miranda, she was the perfect realistic villain. She is manipulative and lies to get whatever she wants to the point that at times I was unsure of whether or not she was telling the truth. If I ever saw her in real life, I would probably run for the hills because sometimes the more composed villain is the more terrifying one.

Throughout Shift, there is a strong theme of mental illness which was very new to me and also important because there are many people who don't understand mental illnesses and it doesn't seem real to some people. I think that from reading this book, I understand more why some people have mental disorders and how they are dealt with, which is important to me since both of my parents suffer from depression. I love it when I gain something from reading fiction!

Although it took a little while to get there, I loved Shift. It was mysterious, thrilling and incredibly genuine. I enjoyed the story, the characters and I came out of the book understanding more, which is a definite plus. Shift is one of the most thrilling reads of my year!

Review: Envy by Anna Godbersen

Anna Godbersen
Series: The Luxe #3
Genre: YA Historical
Released: January 27 2009
by HarperCollins
Source: Borrowed from library
Rating: ★★★★

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New York City, 1900

In high society nothing is more dangerous than a scandal. Two months have passed since the esteemed Holland family's shocking fall from grace and those watching the impetuous Miss Diana Holland are beginning to whisper again.

Further uptown, notorious cad Henry Schoonmaker and his new bride are the city's most celebrated couple. But the glittering diamond she wears hasn't yet brought her all she desires.

Manhattan's most envied residents appear to have everything: wealth, beauty, happiness.

But in a city ruled by reputation,
sometimes the most practised smiles
hide the most scandalous secrets...
Up until this point, I haven't been too impressed with The Luxe series, with both the first and second books earning three stars each from me. Before going into Envy, I just wanted to get the series over and done with so my expectations weren't too great but I wasn't expecting horrible either. After I'd finished the book, I actually ended up liking Envy more than the previous two books.

Oh look, stuff actually happens in this book! My biggest problem with The Luxe and Rumours was that there was very little going on until the end (there was more events in Rumours but still not a lot). I can only take so many parties and girls thinking while alone or walking down the street. With Envy, I took an interest from the prologue, which kept me interested in what was going to happen next. All along the way, there was a little something here and there that would keep me reading to find out more and there were very few times that I was bored. Obviously, there were slow parts of the story, but not excruciatingly slow to the point that I just didn't have the motivation to pick up the book again.

I'm still unsure as to whether my hatred of Penelope is a good thing or not. She is the 'villain' of the series so she is supposed to be disliked, but every time she appears and opens her mouth I want to do horrible things to her. I seriously feel sorry for every person that has ever and ever will come into contact with her and I had no idea it was ever possible to be that much of a vile human being. That girl deserves to get even more of her comeuppance in the next book and I hope it's soul crushing to the point that she stops being so disgusting. Moving away from my issue of Penelope, I liked how all of the other characters have developed even more. I'm enjoying seeing Diana grow become more mature in the way that she handles problems and not crying over Henry all the time who is pretty much unattainable by now.

Throughout the book, pretty much everyone is jealous of everyone. Diana is jealous of Penelope because she has Henry. Penelope is jealous of Diana because Henry spends more time thinking about Diana than he does about Penelope. And Henry is jealous of Penelope's brother Grayson because he gets to spend time with Diana while he has to be with his mean wife all the time. I really liked this web of jealousy, it was quite entertaining to see how everyone was jealous of each other over petty reasons and things they couldn't do much about.

Overall, I enjoyed Envy more than The Luxe and Rumours, but it's a shame that this enjoyment has come so late in the series, because usually a series would start to loose its appeal by the third book. I'm glad that there was more going on and I hope that I enjoy the final book in the series this much so that I can finally put this series to bed!

Follow Friday (27)

Feature & Follow Friday is a weekly blog hop hosted by Parajunkee's View and Alison Can Read.

Q: School's out! What is your favourite summer reading book?

My reading habits don't usually tend to correlate with the seasons and I usually just read whatever I'm into at the time. But, I have sort of decided to read more contemporaries this summer since I don't really want my summer to be full of angst and stuff like that. Plus, because I won't be in education from June until September, I may not have any required reading for university! ^_^

Happy Friday!

Review: Star Trek Into Darkness (2013)

Star Trek Into Darkness
Directed by: J.J. Abrams
Starring: Chris Pine, Benedict Cumberbatch, Zoe Saldana, et al.
Based on: Star Trek by Gene Roddenberry
Genre: Science Fiction / Action
Released: May 9 2013 (UK, Aus, NZ, Europe) May 16 2013 (US, Canada)
by Paramount Pictures
Running time: 129 mins (2 hr, 9 mins)
Cert: 12 (BBFC) PG-13 (MPAA)
Rating: ★★★★★

IMDb | View Trailer
When the crew of the Enterprise is called back home, they find an unstoppable force of terror from within their own organisation has detonated the fleet and everything it stands for, leaving our world in a state of crisis. With a personal score to settle, Captain Kirk leads a manhunt to a war-zone world to capture a one man weapon of mass destruction. As our heroes are propelled into an epic chess game of life and death, love will be challenged, friendships will be torn apart, and sacrifices must be made for the only family Kirk has left: his crew.
After an excruciatingly long eternity (okay, maybe not that long), it's finally here! And after following every teaser, interview, trailer release and what is probably the worst kept secret in Hollywood, this little Trekkie finally sat down in the cinema for one of the most anticipated films of the year. I don't really need to explain how much of a Star Trek fan I am, but I was so excited for this film to come out that I nearly exploded. I sat in the cinema hoping for the ride of my life, and did I get it? Damn right I did.

Into Darkness begins on a class M planet where Kirk and Bones are being chased by the planet's primitive inhabitants, straight-away breaking the one thing that is broken in pretty much every single episode of  every Star Trek series: the Prime Directive (Starfleet are not allowed to interfere with other cultures and civilisations). Meanwhile, the Enterprise hides on the ocean floor and Spock goes into a live erupting volcano to set off a detonation device which will render it dormant. Back on Earth, in London a top Starfleet agent named John Harrison is creating chaos by forcing other members to blow up Federation buildings.  Admiral Marcus then gives Kirk and the rest of the Enterprise crew the mission of taking Harrison prisoner and bringing him back to Starfleet. And that's about as far as I'm going to go in terms of summarising because I'd end up giving away the film's big reveal. Speaking of the big reveal, for months and months I was hoping that it was just a rumour but now that I've seen the film, I really liked the way that it was done. There wasn't a single moment in this film where I was bored or stopped paying attention. Something was always happening and there was so much tension that I could have pulled my hair out and ended up with a bald spot. While Star Trek was an origin story that payed homage to The Original Series, Into Darkness is its own story but it does draw some very obvious influences with some very clever role reversal. I think the film's story was incredibly well-written and there are very few flaws that I could find within the story. Although I did say that parts of the story can be clever, I felt that it got just a little bit predictable towards the end, especially if you have seen the 'obvious influence' that I mentioned above.

The cast of Into Darkness are what I think makes the film so great. If the cast hadn't given such strong and powerful performances, the film would've fell flat. Abrams definitely made the best casting decisions here. Everyone who was in the first film had definitely improved since then because they obviously know where exactly they're going with their characters, but the best performance of the film is definitely Benedict Cumberbatch's performance as the film's villain. Up until this point, I'd only ever seen him play good characters and seeing him being all villainy was actually really chilling. Probably because humans can be scarier than aliens because there are some alien species in science fiction that are completely bestial and are unaware, unlike humans. As odd as it may sound, I actually liked seeing him being completely malevolent and brutally violent because to me it showed how awesome of an actor he is. He can do good and he can really do bad.

Now, my favourite Star Trek character is Spock, but that's in The Original Series. My favourite character in this alternate universe series is Chekov (or as I call him, Baby Chekov), played by Anton Yelchin, and I am so glad that he got so much more screen time. But, despite that, I still do like Zachary Quinto's Spock because he plays him as being more conflicted at times than Leonard Nimoy's Spock who is much more controlled. I'm still not a fan of the whole Spock-Uhura relationship though. It still doesn't sit right with me and I don't think it ever will.

Into Darkness takes place in a number of locations. We go to San Francisco, London, the planet at the beginning of the film (which I can't remember for the life of me), on-board the Enterprise and even outside of Federation space onto the Klingon homeworld of Q'onoS (the film uses the phonetic spelling of Kronos, while I prefer the former spelling). We don't get to see much of the planet but what we do is very much what the Klingons themselves are like: rough and wild. It's incredibly obvious now that I really like my setting and besides, not all of the action in Star Trek happens on just the ship, they do leave it quite a few times!

The CGI and special effects of Into Darkness are just spectacular. I honestly haven't seen effects this good in quite a while now (probably because I've been watching a lot of dramas lately) and these amazing effects gave me a very good welcome back to my beloved sci-fi. I personally loved being able to see the Enterprise go into warp speed and all the residue that the ship would leave behind after shooting off and also how all of the lens flares that were in pretty much every single scene of Star Trek were limited to the scenes that took place on starships, which I was so relieved about. Seriously, they get incredibly distracting after about five minutes. I loved the use of colour on-screen and how it progresses. Everything starts out all bright and colourful, and as the film progresses the colours become more subdued to fit with the increasing dark tone.

Holy crap, the music of this film is just so good. It's there at the right times to just more tension or emotion to scenes and it is just so majestic. While the score is an original for pretty much the whole film, I loved how this series manages to incorporate the original Star Trek theme song into the credits. I mean, let's face it, Star Trek is easily recognised by its signature theme tune and even the TNG films had their theme in them.

I don't think I could say any more about how much I loved this film. I loved the story, I loved the characters even more than I did before, I loved the effects and I loved the music. However, it fell just short of getting higher than 5 stars due to the end being just a little bit predictable. But other than that I just loved, loved, loved this film! I still don't like Spuhura though. Still doesn't sit right with me.

DNF Review: The Host by Stephenie Meyer

The Host
Stephenie Meyer
Series: The Host #1
Genre: YA Science Fiction / Romance
Publication date: May 6 2008
by Little Brown
Source: Borrowed from library
Rating: DNF

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Melanie Stryder refuses to fade away. The earth has been invaded by a species that takes over the minds of their human hosts, and most of humanity has succumbed.

Wanderer, the invading 'soul', who has been given Melanie's body, knew about the challenges of living inside a human: the overwhelming emotions, the too-vivid memories. But she did not expect that Melanie would refuse to relinquish possession of her mind.

Melanie fills Wanderer's thoughts with visions of the man she loves - Jared, a human who still lives in hiding. Unable to separate herself from her body's desires, Wanderer yearns for a man she's never met. As outside forces make Wanderer and Melanie unwilling allies, they set off the search for the man they both love.
Stephenie Meyer seems to be one of those Marmite authors; you either love her or hate her, or her work just isn't for you so you tend to not touch it. I belong to the latter. I liked her Twilight series the first time that I read the books but not so much the second time round when I'd matured a bit. The Host had been on my to-read list for a while but didn't remember about it until the film adaptation (which I won't be watching any time soon) was announced. It's an established fact that I love aliens, and the book seemed like a very interesting take on it (at first it sounded a little bit like Invasion of the Body Snatchers to me) so I borrowed it from the library hoping for it to be good, but not exactly earth-shattering. It all just went wrong for me to the point that I had enough and gave up.

I got nearly halfway through The Host where the book's biggest problem came to my attention. Nothing was happening. There was so little happening in the story that I actually fell asleep while reading. I fell asleep. I had never done that in my entire life until that point. The story was actually quite promising up until Wanderer and Melanie reached the caves and then everything just slowed down to a snail's pace. I read up to chapter 28 and the caves aren't seen until chapter 13 so that's approximately 159 pages of blah. Even 100 pages would have been too much. There were little points of things happening but they were only fleeting moments. I did enjoy the part when Wanderer is telling Jeb and the others about all the planets that she'd been on, but that was pretty much it. I couldn't have taken any more of very little happening and I didn't have the patience to trudge through waiting for something to happen,.

The sort of sad part about my experience with The Host is that I liked the vast majority of the characters. Melanie irritated the life out of me whenever she said anything and after all of the fluffy flashbacks, Jared was an intolerable douchebag. I can understand that he would be xenophobic against extraterrestrials, but it was just taken way over the top. I mean, there is no need to constantly call Wanderer "it" or a "thing" because aliens have sexes and genders too (I'm presuming her species does because in some series there are gender-less species). Whenever he went away, I was actually glad that he wasn't there to be intolerant and test my patience. Melanie, on the other hand, did a 180 on me. At first, I thought that she was going to be tough and maybe a little feisty  since the book's summary tells us that she "refuses to fade away". She did do that at first but as soon as we get to the caves "OMG JARED'S HERE! HE'S PROBABLY GOING TO KILL US BUT I DON'T CARE BECAUSE HE'S JARED AND I LOVE HIM!" Really, Meyer? Really? I'd expected better.

I'd never really thought much about Meyer's writing style until reading The Host. I thought that it wasn't very well suited for the genre. It's very well suited for the Twilight series, where it captures all of the flowery feelings that are associated with falling in love for the first time, but for science fiction it was really out of place and incredibly fluffy. And since there was little to no romance in the part that I'd read, it was too purple and out of place.

I've read some of the more negative reviews on Goodreads to see how it ends, and I think it's safe to say that I won't be returning to The Host any time soon. I couldn't put up with this mind-numbing torture for another second and was ready to just throw it into a wood-chipper but I really shouldn't because the copy I was reading was from the library. So, while this gets a big fat DNF, I'm going to look for some good science fiction to read.

Stacking the Shelves (9)

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews, in which I showcase books that I have received this week.

Hey everyone, how have your weeks been? I've been back at college this week and thankfully back to posting regularly (sort of)! I was on Easter break last week and the week before but I still had tons of work to do so I couldn't really post at all, but I'm back now ^_^ I had a little bit of a switch-around with my blog layout because the font of my post titles were constantly changing whenever they were clicked on due to something in the coding. They're working properly now but I can no longer directly reply to comments. Onto the books! (Note: I've included books that I got last week in this post too)
Dragon Ball : Volume 3 by Akira Toriyama
Bunny Drop : Volume 1 by Yumi Unita
Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

Borrowed from the library:

What did you get this week? Leave me a link and I'll pop by!

Follow Friday (26)

Feature & Follow Friday is a weekly blog hop hosted by Parajunkee's View and Alison Can Read.

Q: We are about to see a lot of posts & tweets about reader conventions, RT, BEA, ALA and many more are starting soon. Which one would you love to attend? Where and why?

I haven't been to any conventions ever so I would love to go to any of them! Also, and I'm not sure if this counts, but I would love to go to Comic-Con some day since there are very few conventions where I live.

Happy Friday!

Review: Taxi Driver (1976)

Taxi Driver
Directed by: Martin Scorsese
Starring: Robert De Niro, Jodie Foster and Cybill Shepherd.
Genre: Drama
Released: February 8 1976
by Columbia Pictures
Running time: 113 mins (1 hr, 53 mins)
Cert: 18 (BBFC) R (MPAA)
Rating: ★★★★★

IMDb | View Trailer
Travis Bickle is an ex-Marine and Vietnam War veteran living in New York City. As he suffers from insomnia, he spends his time working as a taxi driver at night, watching porn movies at seedy cinemas during the day, or thinking about how the world, New York in particular, has deteriorated into a cesspool. He's a loner who has strong opinions about what is right and wrong with mankind. For him, the one bright spot in New York humanity is Betsy, a worker on the presidential nomination campaign of Senator Charles Palantine. He becomes obsessed with her. After an incident with her, he believes he has to do whatever he needs to make the world a better place in his opinion. One of his priorities is to be the saviour for Iris, a twelve-year-old runaway and prostitute who he believes wants out of the profession and under the thumb of her pimp and lover Matthew.
I'm quickly becoming a fan of Martin Scorsese, and I had been kicking myself for ages because I hadn't seen Taxi Driver. And then, one glorious day, I saw that one of the movie channels on TV (I forget which one) was airing it and I recorded it straight away. Since I don't have any money to go to the cinema with, I'm going to be reviewing some pretty old films until I do have some cash (and when there's actually something that I want to see). Anyway, I have always expected greatness from Taxi Driver, given its iconic status and also the fact that its main actor is the awesome Robert De Niro and before I go into this review I have to say that I do not regret watching this film. Not one little bit at all because it is just that good.

Taxi Driver tells the story of Travis Bickle, a Vietnam War veteran who is the definition of a loner. He can't sleep so he takes a job working incredibly long hours as a taxi diver throughout the entire of New York City and spends the day going to porno theatres and thinking about the horrific deteriorated state of the city and the world. He thinks that there is only one thing that is pure in the whole city, which is a lady called Betsy who works in a campaign office and Travis becomes obsessed with her. After a date with her goes wrong, he devotes himself to making the world a better place by working out and buying a lot of guns. Taxi Driver has one of those stories where it's smooth sailing up until a point where everything just explodes. Usually one of my biggest pet peeves in anything is a story that is incredibly slow with nothing happening until the very end. With this film, that's not the case. The first part of the film runs more smoothly than slowly because that's how Travis's life is going. The pace of the film's story moves perfectly with Travis, starting out smooth and almost dream-like and the getting faster. There were parts of the film that I found a little difficult to understand, specifically the end which has been up for debate for over 30 years now. What has exactly happened to Travis? I'm not sure and I don't think I really want to be sure.

I think that Taxi Driver really shows that a film doesn't need to have a huge ensemble cast to be great, as there were only two actors in the whole film that I recognised (three if you count Martin Scorsese who has a cameo appearance as one of Travis's fares), Robert De Niro and Jodie Foster. Robert De Niro is one of my favourite actors ever and I think that this is definitely one of his best performances that he's given. He made Travis into one of those characters that you're not really sure of what you're supposed to think about him. Should you empathise with him or be sort of scared by him? That kind of mystery is what I think makes the character of Travis so great. You can really tell how his mental state deteriorates as the film progresses through his body language and the flickers of his eyes, which I think is so much more effective than actual words. De Niro's performance is definitely one that is going to stick with me for a long time.

I've seen a lot of films and TV shows that take place in New York City, but very few of them have shown the side of the city that Taxi Driver does. In the film, we are shown the seedy underbelly of the city, where all the junkies, gangs, hookers and porno theatres reside. The city is completely un-glamorous, which I don't think had been done before in films, and I always love being able to see a more realistic view of a city like New York, rather than the ultra-glitzy view that is seen in so many romcoms. Martin Scorsese is from New York and the vast majority of his films are set there with different views, but I think the side that is presented here is probably my favourite that I have seen. Most films that feature big cities like New York make me want to go there to experience it myself, but Taxi Driver has sort of shown me that if I ever do go to New York, I should be careful where I tread.

There isn't much in the way of music, but that's not to say that it's bad. The film's score is quite simple and relaxed at some parts, and pretty tense at more parts. The parts that are relaxed really give a feel of how it would feel to not be able to sleep and be in Travis's situation of being lonely and just aimlessly going around life. I can't say that it helps the audience to understand what it would be like to be Travis because, well, it's music, but it does help to show how Travis's mental state deteriorates further and further as the film's story progresses, to the point that it just crashes and the score perfectly matches that.

Although it didn't feel like it at first, Taxi Driver is now among some of the greatest films that I have ever seen. Martin Scorsese and Robert De Niro are just the perfect actor-director duo since pretty much everything that they make together (that I have seen) is just so good. I love it when a film actually makes me react to the events onscreen as they happen, rather my reactions being delayed or not occurring until the end of the film. Although pretty much every part of the film was perfect, it misses out on being rewarded a Golden UFO because at some parts of the film, I wasn't sure of what was going on or where the story was going. I'm not sure why I waited so long to see this film, but I'm more than glad that I've seen it now!