Category

review

Category

Before I read One Blood Ruby I will review the first book in the series by Melissa Marr — Seven Black Diamonds.

Synopsis

Lilywhite Abernathy is a criminal. Her father’s “unconventional” business has meant a life of tightly held secrets, concealed weaponry, and a strict code. But Lily’s crime isn’t being the daughter of a powerful mob boss. Her guilt lies in the other half of her DNA—the part that can coax ancient rumors from stones and summon fire with a thought. Lily is part fae, which is a crime in her world.

From the time before she was born, a war has been raging between humanity and fae. The Queen of Blood and Rage, ruler of both the Seelie and Unseelie courts, wants to avenge the tragic death of her heir—a death that was the fault of reckless humans.

Lily’s father has shielded her from the repercussions of her ancestry…until she is sent to the prestigious St. Columba’s school, straight into the arms of the Black Diamonds.

Mysterious, glamorous, and bound together in their mission but constantly at odds, Zephyr, Creed, Will, Roan, Violet, and Alkamy are a Sleeper cell of fae, planted in the human world to help destroy it from within. With covers as rock stars and celebrity children, the Black Diamonds carry out the queen’s war against humanity. And unbeknownst to Lilywhite, she’s been chosen to join them.

Now more than ever, Lily’s heritage puts her in peril, and even the romantic attention of the fae singer Creed Morrison isn’t enough to keep Lily from wanting to run back to the safer world of organized crime.

Melissa Marr returns to faery in a dramatic story of the precarious space between two worlds and the people who must thrive there

— Courtesy of GoodReads.com

Plot

Can we first please address the elephant in the room? A group of fey sleeper agents, hmm? Wow. It’s so strange how Melissa Marr and I have the exact same ideas. Now before you roll your eyes, hear me out. When I was 14 I wrote a story about a mermaid who attends human high school and her best friend who is admitted into a school for secret agents who hunt fey.  So not quite the same but very similar. But it doesn’t end there. Three of four years ago I wrote a story about half fey sleeper agents who protect the fey from the Paladins, a group of anti-fey secret agents.  Now leave a message below and let me know if any of you want to read THAT story.

Now back to the review at hand.

Marr promises us a story about fey sleeper agents but instead we get a lot of sitting around, a lot of talking and not very much action. For a bunch of eco-terrorists I thought they would, you know, be doing some terrorising. Instead we get some ridiculous insta-love story and another story about a fey girl getting married against her will. Which you know, I shouldn’t be so judgy about since I do a similar thing in my own book I’m writing, but the point is we’re promised one thing and given another. At least I’m honest from the beginning about my princess getting married against her will.

For a book about the daughter of a MOB boss there isn’t a lot of MOB activity happening here. Besides some kind of ball at the beginning with lots of sons and daughters of crime lords there really isn’t anything at all to do with actual criminal activity in this book.

Overall, added with the surprise ending, I have to say that if you want a book with tonnes of action, or you know just a book with fey eco-terrorists as promised in the synopsis then you should stay away from this book. But if you love romance and friendship this book just might be for you.

Point of View – POV/Characters

From the synopsis above you could easily mistake Lilywhite Abernathy as our only main character. But this book has EIGHT point of views. This includes our sleeper agents: Lilywhite, Creed, Violet, Alkamy, Zephyr and Roan, Will – as well as Elidh, the Crown Princess.

Personally I don’t like having more than 4 POVs, but perhaps I’m a bit biased because the book I’m writing has 4 POVs. But honestly I’ve tried reading both Game of Thrones, which has 7 POVs, and Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo, which of course has 6 Povs. The problem with having more than 2 POVs is that it becomes that much harder to remember who everyone is, and to grow a connection with them because the story becomes so thinned out.

I really wanted to love Mellisa Marr’s characters but I just couldn’t. Most of these POVs just weren’t necessary and many of them felt like filler chapters. If I had to be honest the only necesarry POV characters were Lilywhite, Elidh and MAYBE Zephyr since he was the leader of the Seven Black Diamonds.

Lilywhite: This character irks me. I like her, I do. But the part about her spouting the Abernathy rules really reminds me of Aisilnn from Marr’s other series, Wicked Lovely. You see Aislinn can see fae so to stay alive she reminds herself of these three rules to stay under the radar of the fae, which is exactly what Lilywhite seems to be doing. Another gripe I have with Lilywhite is how much of a Mary Sue she is. Her two major faults are that people love her almost instantly and she is overpowered. Most fey blood have at least one “affinity”, that is, a power over one of the four elements. But Lilywhite has power over ALL FOUR elements/affinities.

Elidh: I love Elidh. She is perhaps a bit too scared of her mother to question her, but she does genuinley want to change things. She wants to rule in a different manner to The Queen of Blood and Rage. Unlike Lilywhite not everyone loves her because of course being the heir apparant she has taken her brother’s rightful place as future King of the Seelie Court since the Seelie and Unseelie merged when Endellion, The Queen of Blood and Rage took over.

Zephyr: I feel kind of bad for this guy. As leader of the Seven Black Diamonds he has had to shoulder the burden all on his own. Lilywhite is supposed to be his partner in all things related to their terrorism, but she isn’t exactly willing. Perhaps it something to do with her introduction to the team.

Will and Roan: All I know about them is that they are in love with each other and one of them can’t tell his parents about their dating because they don’t like gay people. That, and the fact that Endellion chooses who marries whom so they’ll probably never be together forever.

Violet: She is an actress. That is all I remember about her.

Creed: The insta-love interest. Part time rock star, part time terrorist, part time student.

Final Thoughts

As much as there are many cliches I have to be honest that I loved reading this book. Melissa Marr’s writing style had me hooked and constantly wanting to know more. Of course I came out very frustrated and annoyed for all the reasons above but it’s important to note that for whatever reason I never at any point wanted to put this book down. It was so intriguing and I constantly wanted to know what would happen next.

I give Seven Black Diamonds THREE stars

Here I thought that little Arya Stark was finished. Well first, she isn’t little anymore. And secondly how stupid was I to think that killing Walder Frey alone would be enough? But what really sent a chill down my spine was when she told Frey’s widow to explain to everyone that Winter came for House Frey. And of course, that the North remembers.

After our required introduction featuring places such as Old Town, The Wall (of course) and the Twins, we are greeted with what at first appears to be a confusing icy depiction. And then the White Walker and the army of the dead appear behind a blizzard to reaffirm what Arya Stark had just said, and what every Sky poster has said since the countdown has begun.

Winter is Here.

In a meeting with the North Jon, proves to be a merciful ruler, but Sansa undermines him. Littlefinger stands at the edges of the meeting look shady as usual. A raven arrives commanding Jon Snow to come South to King’s Landing and bend the knee or ‘suffer the consequences of all traitors’.

Cersei stands on top of a giant map surveying the surroundings and her many enemies. “We’re the last Lannisters,” she proclaims. “The last ones that count.” She meets with none other than Euron Greyjoy to discuss a possible alliance. One that Cersei declines after being asked to be Euron’s bride. I have to say I kind of feel bad for Cersei. Only a little bit. But I mean, she got herself from one bad situation and has ended up in another bad situation. But the fact that she believes that her own son, Tommen, former King of the First Men and the Andals and all that, betrayed her is ludicrous. What was he supposed to do? I think that was Tommen’s only real moment of agency since he was crowned.

Euron comes across as more than a little crazy. He laughs at how Jamie killed Euron’s own family and he makes a jibe at Jamie’s one hand – of course. I don’t like him and I don’t trust him not to kill Cersei once the nuptials have ended.

We are shown Samwell Tarly’s sad little life which consists of — actually I’d rather not say because it’s just too sad. And disgusting. But for a brief moment we see the arm of a stone man who asks about the “Dragon Queen”, who could only be none other than Jorah Mormont. To say that the might hath fallen would be an understatement, except he wasn’t ever truly mighty. Maybe that one time he killed the blood rider of the Great Khal Drogo.

Arya travels south and is greeted by a small band of Lannister soldiers. One of them is none other than ED freaking SHEERAN!

It’s just The Hound’s luck that he ends up with a band of fire worshipers. I quickly surmised that he was back at the house of the people he had betrayed but only because I had rewatched a few seasons. I can’t imagine how terrible he must have felt for being right that they would be dead by Winter. I think the best part however was seeing Sandor Clegane’s face when he looked into the fire and for the first time realised that the White Walkers were real.

I wish I could saw that Dany’s scene was awe inspiring, but it wasn’t. Sure she was visiting her former home for the first time in years. I should have been moved, but after waiting 6 seasons for this woman to bring Westeros to their knees viewing an abandoned island isn’t poignant. It’s boring.

 

The king is dead! But the queen is alive. So who rules next? I suppose it’ll be his cuter little brother.
Admist the grandeur and splendor of King Joffrey’s wedding, who could guess that an assassination plot would be unfolding? Well, readers of the book series, I suppose. But the Lannisters seem to think they are untouchable since winning the war of the five kings. Joffrey’s dwarf reenactment is more than a little distasteful. After all, one dwarf was shown hitting King Renly’s butt in a lewd manner. Joffrey holds himself as victorious despite the fact that he did pretty much nothing apart from hide.

It’s quite eerie in fact that The Rains of Castamere was played at the wedding. The Lannister’s theme song playing at the king’s wedding should only reinforce their absolute reign but it does nothing but irritate Joffrey, who throws coins at the musicians and basically tells them to piss of. Was I the only one who saw this song as some sort of bad omen?

The bitchiness at King’s Landing is as exciting as ever. We have Jaime antagonising Ser Loras, and Cersei embarrasing Lady Brienne. And was I the only one who found it hilarious, when Prince Oberyn snubbed Tyrion? And can we please just appreciate the sexual tension between Oberyn and Loras?

But it’s the conversation Oberyn and Ellaria have with Tywin and Cersei that drew my attention. The threat Oberyn makes is more than a little worrying:

People everywhere have their differences. In some places, the highborn frown upon those of low birth. In other places, the rape and murder of women and children is considered distasteful. What a fortunate thing for you, former Queen Regent, that your daughter Myrcella has been sent to live in the latter sort of place.

I’m not sure how far he is willing to go on this threat, or whether it’s simply to gain the satisfaction of seeing the Lannisters squirm. Either way, it certainly adds something to the drama at the wedding. I love Oberyn and I hope he continues to strut around like he owns the place for a few more episodes.

Strut! Strut! Work it!


But even some the the events that occur prior to the festivities were of interest. Can we please give a minute of silence for the Tyrion x Shae ship? I’m not entirely sure whether this is the last time we will see her because we didn’t actually see her leave, but I find these GIFs very appropriate:

 

 And of course, Stannis is burning more of his own people. This time, it’s his brother in law. I quite liked seeing Melisandre talk with Stannis’ daughter. What piece of wisdom did she give the princess?
“There’s only one hell, princess. The one we live in now.” This may or may not be true.

All I know is that episode 2 of this season has broken the usual format in which the ninth episode is the most dramatic in the series. And I for one am quite glad. Even the form of this very episode was stellar. We had the death of the king sort of mirrored by the brutal murdering of an innocent by Ramsey Snow. And now that the king is dead, perhaps the Bolton bastard will be his successor of most hated character. But despite how twisted he is, I do have just a drop of sympathy for him, considering his relationship with his father. Still, Jon Snow had the same problem and he didn’t turn out so sadistic.

Now excuse me whilst I figure out why on earth it’s nicknamed “The Purple Wedding”…

Well, it seems it’s been a while since I have updated this blog but I still haven’t thought of any short story ideas so it looks like you all get this TV review instead. I hope you enjoy it. And if you don’t then please feel free to tell me so, rather than pelt me with stones like barbarians. Oh, and if you have any ideas for a story you want me to write, then feel free to leave me a comment. 🙂

On with the review…


With great power comes great need to hide underground. No, wait, that’s not it. I do believe it has something to do with responsibility, so it comes as no great shock that one of the latest TV shows featuring super powered teens includes our good old, “Chosen One” cliché. This Chosen One comes in none other than the handsome outsider, Stephen Jameson (Robbie Amell). If he looks familiar, that would be because his cousin, Stephen Amell, is the lead actor in CW’s other show, Arrow.
Stephen is of course a very attractive teenager who is shunned by his fellow classmates on the account that he is on anti-psychotic drugs for his mental condition. This seems to consist of sleep-walking and voices in his head, as he is shown strapping himself into bed. Though one might hardly bother wondering how he actually sleeps because we are of course distracted by his wonderful abs and the rather kinkiness of it all. The three-way he wakes up to at his neighbours is of course the cherry on the top. 
Steady on, Stephen!
Unbeknownst to Stephen, there is a shadow war going on between the Tomorrow People, and a secret organisation hunting them, known as Ultra. But who are the Tomorrow People? Well, apparently, it’s all about the 3 T’s— telepathy, telekinesis and teleportation. Quite nice that it’s wrapped up all neat and pretty. I had no idea that mutation could work quite so smoothly.
Genetics aside, I can’t deny that the TV show is rather gripping. Already we are halfway through the series and there have been quite a number of interesting story arcs. Perhaps the crowning glory of it all is the almost father/son relationship between one of the heads of Ultra, Jedikiah Price (Mark Pellegrino, who some may recognise from Supernatural as Lucifer) and the leader of the underground group of Tomorrow People, John (Luke Mitchell). This rivalry is alluded to in the pilot episode, with John describing Jedikiah as a sadistic creep. 
OH! The angst!
The writers do well with characterising villains and heroes alike with captivating and sympathetic back-stories. Stephen is first introduced to John, the laid back, but determined leader. Then there is Cara, the intense one who acts quite like a second-in-command. Last but not least, we have Russell (Aaron Yoo), the kleptomaniac comic-relief who is a firm believer in the “no-finger discount”. After all, Tomorrow People have telekinesis for that kind of thing. But how could I forget TIM? TIM is a super-computer stolen from Ultra by John. Witty and sarcastic, he will immediately remind Marvel fans of Iron Man’s JARVIS, albeit, with a British accent.
 Once again, mutation is used as an allegory for puberty, despite the fact that the majority of the cast already look to be in their mid-20’s. Even the ones who are meant to be in high school. So even in the wake of striking revelations and intense action sequences, the romances are still heavily explored. Now that is not necessarily a bad thing, but in the grand scheme of things, the romance can at times feel contrived. Love triangles will ensue, and frustrations will rise high, but in the midst of it all, the main goal is to find Stephen’s long lost father, who will lead them all to “The Promised Land”. A place where Tomorrow People can live without judgement— ahem!— Genosha. 
I expected a lot of this…
I also got some of this…

And this.
We also get the benefits of Stephen bringing sexy back.
…Time and time again.
They say that the devil is in the detail, so perhaps my favourite character in the entire show is none other than Jedikiah Price, the villain pursuing the Tomorrow People. What can I say? I’m a sucker for a good villain. He is the most multi-faceted character on this show. Neither truly evil, nor good, he is certainly layered. In the words of Tony Stark, “his secrets have secrets”. He truly believes that what he is doing is best for society, and it is this conviction that I at once admire and loathe. It would certainly be easier to hate him if he was simply doing it to be evil, but then where would the fun be in that? With that air of calm and wry smile, he is certainly one to watch out for.
So the recipe for The Tomorrow People seems to include a dash of narration, just like good ol’ Spidey, a sprinkle of Matrix style bullet freeze shots, a heap of hotness like any self-respecting CW show, and a drop of romance to keep up the teen angst. Boil it all together and what we get is a sort of X-Men meets Jumper and Push. In the end I’d like to think there is a bit of something for everyone, and I firmly believe that The Tomorrow People isn’t quite yesterday’s news. 
That is all. Thanks for reading my review. 
.

So last Friday, a friend of mine convinced me to go to the cinema with her. When I realised that she wanted to see a romance movie, I wasn’t too thrilled. The idea of a man falling in love with an A.I. sounded bizare and I’d long since learned not to bother with movies where no explosions were to occur. But after watching the movie trailer, I was willing to give it a try, and by the end of the movie, I was astounded. “Her” was nothing like I would have expected.

Here’s the trailer:

I rate this movie 5/5 

“Her” is one of those rare poignant movies that gives you a lasting impression when you’re finished. It has some really provocative themes such as “what is humanity?” and “what is the true meaning of love?” and unlike Shame with Michael Fassbender, it has some really humorous, light-hearted moments.

In the near-future, technology has progressed somewhat. Holographic gaming exists side by side with phones that use voice recognition software to navigate. And I’m not talking about Siri. Siri looks like elementary stuff compared to the tech in the movie, and yet it’s not so far into the future that everything is unbelievable. It seems to be the case that it’s perfectly normal in this futuristic L.A. to walk around with an earpiece, talking to your phone.

Joaquin Phoenix’s character, Theodore, is going through the hardships of divorce. Now typically during this time, rebound sex is expected, and Theodore does indeed endeavour to attempt having other relations. Along the way, however, he buys an A.I. Operating System. He assigns it a female voice and it names herself Samantha. I was instantly aware of the life-like voice. Anyone who has used the likes of Siri will notice the artifice of it, but Theodore’s A.I. is voiced by Scarlet Johanasson. Samantha is warm and kind but she also has an interesting sense of humour. Her voice is often playful, and strangley enough for an A.I. she as a tendancy to sigh or breath deeply between dialogue. This habit of hers is at one point subject to Theodore’s scrutiny in frustrating attempt to understand just what she is and his relationship with her.

The capacity for human nature to love is stretched to its limits in this movie as Theodore attempts to define his relationship with his A.I. There is a touching scene as he attempts to explain to his 5 year old goddaughter that his girlfriend is inside a computer. The girl’s innocence is enough to make her seem more or less okay with the notion, though she does seem curious as to how that idea can be. This reaction is of course contrasted to Theordore’s former wife and lover, Catherine, who seems embittered by it and is quick to criticise.

As Theodore’s relationship with Samantha grows, so too does Samantha’s ability to understand human nature. She begins to feel emotions, or at least, the simulation of it. Arguments and angst ensue and if not for the fact that Samantha could do amazing things like process data in two hundredths of a minute— or was it a second?– you might find it easy to believe that the two were just a normal couple. There is even this almost hilarious occassion when they attempt to speak at the same time and I had to hold down my inner fan-girl.

Perhaps the only criticism I had for this movie was the slight downplay on the relationship between Theodore and his best friend, Amy, played by Amy Adams. Amy goes through relationship problems of her own and has relations of sort with a similar A.I. that her husband left behind. We’re never really given an insight as to how close she became with her A.I. but I do gain enough of an idea of what she went through with her husband to respect her character and the choices she made.

“Her” is a splendid mixture of beautiful characterisation and cinematography. The enchanting lights of Los Angeles were a nice contrast to the mountain and beach that were displayed in Theodore’s getaways with Samantha. Indeed, he looked like a madman, spinning around at a carnival with his phone in his shirt pocket to allow Samantha to see the beautiful view around him.

For me, the quote that sticks with me is from Amy who states “Falling in love is a sociably acceptable form of insanity.” I do believe that the director, Spike Jonze, made me believe this, but more importantly, he made be believe in love in all its various forms.