Review: Spell Bound (Hex Hall, Book 3) by Rachel Hawkins

Reviewed by First Mate Keira

Title: Spell Bound (Hex Hall, Book 3)
Author: Rachel Hawkins
Format: Hardback
Page Count: x
Grade Reading Level: x

Summary: Sophie Mercer is not a witch. She’s a demon. Just as she got used to her magical powers, the Prodigium Council yanks them away. Will she ever get them back? Under the care of her sworn enemies Sophie learns that a war is brewing and the sides of good and bad are blurring.

Why I started this book:

I wanted to complete the trilogy.

Likes:

  • What the real bad guy was doing when nobody else was looking to gain power.
  • Sophie and Archer. J
  • Elodie, the witch ghost, and how she helps Sophie during crisis situations. (But not so much when she does the same thing for proving points.)

Dislikes:

  • To be honest, when I started the book I could barely recall what had happened in the series already. It took a bit to get back into the book.
  • It was lacking in emotional depth when it came to big reveals. The secrets get exposed and then it is business as usual.
  • Archer getting tortured; Cal being forced to heal him again and again and again. Students being forced to torture.
  • Character death… again.

Buy: Spell Bound (A Hex Hall Novel)

Rating: 3 Treasure Chests

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Review: Born at Midnight (Shadow Falls, Book 1) by C.C. Hunter

Reviewed by First Mate Keira

Title: Born at Midnight (Shadow Falls, Book 1)
Author: C.C. Hunter
Format: Paperback
Page Count: 416 pages
Grade Reading Level: Ages 14+

Summary: When Kylie gets into trouble for being at the wrong party her mother’s response is to ship her off to a camp the therapist recommends. Shadow Falls camp for troubled teens is not what it appears – it is in fact a camp for paranormal kids. Kylie can’t believe her eyes and she’s pretty certain she’s not one herself, so why is she there?

Why I started this book:

I was looking for a new book series to start and I saw this on Goodreads under my recommendations based on previous books read (Mythos Academy Series by Jennifer Estep)  by and based on my TBR pile (sequel books to the other series). Thanks Goodreads!

Likes:

  • Derek: half-fae teenage boy who wants to be Kylie’s new boyfriend. His talent? The ability to influence based on touch… which sort of takes him out of the romance running in my opinion, but he’s still a good character.
  • Lucas: werewolf from Kylie’s past – and a threat to all kittens! He’s got my vote. Yum (and I don’t say that about werewolves often!)
  • Kylie can see ghosts and I like who she sees first – good choice! I wonder who she will see next in the sequel.

Toss-Up:

  • Miranda and Della, the friends Kylie makes at camp who are also her new bunkmates, were equally entertaining and/or annoying so they are here in this section.

Dislikes:

  • What kids would rather have a brain tumor than have paranormal talents? Seriously, Kylie was being stupid. I’d take “freakiness” to that every day of the week!
  • Love triangle quadangle. The sleazy ex-boyfriend who just can’t take a hint needs to go, go, go.

Last Minute Thoughts: Sequel time?!! I want it!

Buy: Born at Midnight

Rating: 3.5 Treasure Chests

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Review: Bunnicula by Deborah Howe and James Howe

bookreview

by Captain Lyaf Yarr

Title: Bunnicula
Authors: Deborah Howe, James Howe
Format: Paperback
Pages: 128
Grade Reading Level: Ages 9-12

Summary: Chester the cat and Harold the dog are curious about the new family pet. The Monroes found the bunny at a Dracula movie in a box of dirt. Chester tries to get rid of the bunny, now named Bunnicula by the Monroes, because he’s convinced the bunny is a vampire. He comes to this conclusion based on a book called The Mark of a Vampire. Bunnicula has all the signs – the black and white coloring, the pointy fangs, the ability to turn vegetables white and to escape his cage through miraculous means. It’s a matter of family safety! The bunny has to go!

Why I Started the Book:

Bunnicula was a class assignment in the month of October for a Halloween read. The book was broken into sections. We started by reading one chapter a week and then our teacher read aloud to finish the novel.

Likes:

  • The pictures in the book were cool. I wish there were more of them because the illustrator did a phenomenal job. The bunny is so cute!
  • It’s a very humorous story. There are a lot of laughs from silly to clever shenanigans. (e.g. Chester mixes up “stake” and “steak” and attempts to pummel Bunnicula with a steak.)

Dislikes:

  • (This is not a book dislike.) Don’t watch the twenty minute movie companion to this story! It’s soooo bad! It’s really just awful and the book is so much better!

Last Minute Thoughts: I enjoyed this book a lot and plan to read the sequel, Bunnicula Strikes Again! I think other classes and kids would enjoy this seasonal book a lot!

Buy: Bunnicula: A Rabbit-Tale of Mystery (Paperback)

Book Rating: I give this book 4.5 treasure chests!
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My Top Five Inspirations for Writing My First Zombie Story with Pippa Jay

My Top Five Inspirations for Writing My First Zombie Story with Pippa Jay

  1. Warm Bodies. I can totally and completely blame this for starting me off on zombies. I’ve never been a fan of horror, and if I had to name my top fear in horror it would be zombies. Oh, okay, I admit it – number one would be the Alien. But zombies come a too-close-for-comfort second! Or did.Thanks to the cuteness and humour of the Warm Bodies film (and the beautifully lyrical writing in the book by Isaac Marion), I became a convert. I won’t be watching World War Z or Night of the Living Dead any time, but a Warm Bodies sequel or something along similar lines will definitely get me watching.
  2. Sir Terry Pratchett. When I said I hated zombies, I meant the classic horror film, Hollywood variety. Anyone who has read any of the Nightwatch books by Terry Pratchett will be familiar with the somewhat tragic figure of zombie Reg Shoe. Or maybe you know Baron Samedi from Witches Abroad or the recently deceased wizard WindlePoons from Reaperman. And you’ll know that these aren’t the moaning, lurching brain-eaters more familiar on the big screens. These are more the original form of zombies – rather sad figures dragged back from death either because of something left undone in their former life, summoned back to seek revenge, or simply left behind when Death hung up his scythe and retired. Or maybe you know the zombies in Piers Anthony’s Xanth books. These are more the type of zombies that I love. Still mostly the people they were in life, but unable to rest, often not by their own choice. It was researching this old mythology that set me writing the kind of zombie story that probably isn’t so well known to zombie devotees.
  3. Music. This is always a big influence in everything I write. It can affect the feel or tone of a story, or lyrics can inspire a title or story idea. For Restless In Peaceville, I had a couple of tracks from Warm Bodies, but mostly a lot of Linkin Park, plus an album by Dead By Sunrise, a band fronted by Linkin Park’s singer Chester Bennington.

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The Little Things Give You Away was one of my favourite LP tracks, and one that would have fitted right in on Warm Bodies!

  1. Louisiana. Just after seeing Warm Bodies, and comparing the Hollywood zombies to those I’d met in other books, I got curious about the whole mythology and started out reading it up on Wikipedia. Then I got into a discussion on Facebook about it, and someone mentioned Louisiana voodoo. I was hooked! Not only did it lead me off into yet more interesting research, but it gave me the perfect setting for my story (even though I knew nothing about it and have never been there). Fortunately for me I have several friends who live in or near there, or were born and brought up there. Together with my research, their feedback helped me shape a location that otherwise I could only visit via the internet and Google maps. And now, thanks to my husband’s interest in books set in Louisiana, we’re actually in the process of planning a holiday there!
  2. Curiosity. Well, if I hadn’t been curious about why I’d encountered such different kinds of zombies, I wouldn’t have gone looking for the answers and got so completely enthralled by the whole concept. The research was a ton of fun, and although this was the hardest book I’ve ever written, it’s also the one I’m most proud of. I learned so many new things and found out what I can write if I challenge myself.

So, have any of these things inspired you to write something outside of your comfort zone?

I’d love to hear from you.

Pippa

***

RestlessinPeaceville_200x300Welcome to Peaceville, population 2067 and rising…from the grave…

Luke Chester has had enough. He’s the school geek, the girls laugh at him, he’s lost his dead-end job at the pizza place, and in the midst of the world’s messiest divorce his parents don’t even know he exists. An overdose of his mom’s tranquilizers and a stomach full of whiskey should solve all his problems…

But they don’t. Instead, Luke finds himself booted out of the afterlife for not dying a natural death, with nowhere to go but back to his recently vacated corpse and reality. How the hell is he going to pass for one of the living without someone trying to blow his brains out for being one of the undead?

And it just gets worse. He’s got to fight his own desperate craving to consume the living, evade the weird supernatural hunter who’s having a field day with the new undeads rising, and there’s this creepy black shadow following him around. Add to that the distraction of female fellow undead Annabelle burning to avenge her own murder, and clearly there’s no rest for the wicked. Jeez, all he wanted to do was R.I.P.

Buy: Restless In Peaceville

Sunrise by Scott J Abel

Sunrise by Scott J Abel

People often ask what inspired me to write a novel. I’d already been a successful teacher, coach, and college administrator, but I didn’t become a published author until the age of forty (not that there’s anything wrong with that, mind you). But I always answer the question with the same two words: Stephanie. Meyer.

Yes, I owe my writing “career” to Stephanie Meyer, author of the Twilight saga. I hadn’t read the books, but my wife and I saw the first Twilight movie when it came out just to see what all the hype was about. After the movie ended, I turned to my wife and naively said, “This was based on a bestseller? I can do that.” After all, every Barnes and Noble bookstore was just constantly filled from floor to ceiling with books. So, apparently anyone can write a novel, right? I mean how hard could it be?

I quickly learned the lesson of “look before you leap.” I knew nothing about the craft of writing fiction, and I cringe at the thought of my first draft that I sent to agents and publishers in those early days. After countless rejections, a profound thought occurred to me: maybe it’s me and not them.

So I began to study the craft. I read books on character development, deep points of view, emotion beats, and the subtleties of dialogue. I joined a critique group of authors and editors.

Over time my writing got better, much better. And along the way I found what works for me: writing in the pre-dawn darkness at my kitchen table with a steaming cup of coffee and my iPod. Coffee and music are non-negotiable. Have to have them. In addition to the caffeine jolt, I’ve found that the right music can really help with the flow of writing. If I’m writing an action scene with some great conflict, then I’m amping it up with “Let the Sparks Fly” and “War of Change” by Thousand Foot Krutch. Those songs give me a total adrenaline rush and really help me feel the actions of my characters. For romantic scenes, there’s nothing better than “Fade Into You” by Mazzy Star and The Sunday’s cover of “Wild Horses.” If I’m trying to tackle a difficult, emotional scene, I’ve found nothing works better than instrumental movie soundtracks. My personal favorites are “That Next Place” by Thomas Newman and “Let Me Sign” by Robert Pattinson (yes, THE Robert Pattinson from Twilight). And last but not least, if I’m writing a scene in which my really cool villain, Seth, is making an appearance, then there’s only one song that works – “Black” by Kari Kimmel.

So, after five long, humbling, arduous years later I’m finally a published author. Thanks, Stephanie Meyer.

Scott

***

Scott works in state government and is the author of several short stories and the recently published young adult paranormal romance novel, Sunrise. He lives in the suburbs of Austin with his wife and two precocious daughters – who enthusiastically assist him in his search for the perfect combination of chocolate and peanut butter.

Scott can be contacted through his blog at https://abelstories.wordpress.com/

***

Sunrise-200x300Eighteen-year old Parker, big brother, and high school quarterback, dreams of glory on the football field. But on the night of the shooting, his entire world shatters. In a chilling span of sixty seconds, a mass tragedy wreaks havoc upon his life, family, and community.

Although hailed a hero, Parker is horrorstruck to discover an incident from his past was the motive for the killings and that he was the intended target. When someone threatens to get the one that got away, Parker finds himself hunted. Help comes from an unexpected source…an angel named Marie.

A spunky, impulsive guardian, Marie is dedicated to saving Parker at all costs. When confronted by a sinister nemesis who covets Parker’s soul, a desperate struggle is waged over Parker’s fate. With time running out, Marie must face her growing, but secret affections for Parker that she can no longer ignore. Affections that will force her to make the ultimate decision—sacrifice herself and all that she believes, or lose Parker to the darkness forever.

Buy: Sunrise

 

Movie Review: Eclipse directed by David Slade

by Captain Lyaf Yarr

Title: Eclipse
Director: David Slade
Run Time: 124
Rated: PG-13

Summary: Victoria’s back! But she’s not alone. She’s creating an army of newborns to destroy to the one thing that keeps Edward alive! Bella Swan. But how will the Cullen’s survive a battle of an army of new born vampires!? Unfortunately for them, they get the help from a pack of werewolves! But will hatred get someone killed? Will Bella have second thoughts about Edward and Jacob?

Why I watched this movie:
I watched this movie because I LOVE the book series and the movies! So of course, I had to see the next one!

Likes:

  • At first I wasn’t sure how I was going to react to the new Victoria but I liked her! It took a few scenes to get used to, but I think she did just as good a job as Rachelle Lefevre would have. (Maybe even better?)
  • I liked the scene when Anna Kendrick (Jessica) told her speech as valedictorian! Though I don’t know why SHE was chosen to be valedictorian as I didn’t think she was that good a student from the books. But it was sweet and perfect!
  • I liked Riley Biers! He’s hot and did a good job on his role! I wish he didn’t die and would be in Breaking Dawn. :(
  • Jasper’s’ back story was really interesting. It makes me like him more because of it!
  • I adored the scene with Edward, Jacob, and Bella in the tent! “Lets face it, I am hotter than you!” The whole thing was humorous, personal, and intense!
  • “Dad! I’m a virgin!” Favorite line in the whole film! Hehe! The scene had me laughing so hard I couldn’t breathe! Charlie’s reaction? Priceless.
  • I thought it was funny that Edward bought a bed, just for Bella to “sleep on” … nothing else? Hmm…

Dislikes:

  • I thought the makeup for the vampires looked weird. And Jasper’s wig made him look ridiculous. I don’t know why, but their faces just annoyed me. :(
  • I thought it was awkward that a bunch of vampires just started walking out of the water…
  • I absolutely HATED the engagement ring the Edward had given to Bella! It could have not been any uglier. It was bulgy (butt ugly)!
  • Edward had BIG side burns in this movie. They were distracting and I just wanted to shave them off!
  • Jacob is still WAY too pushy. He claims that Bella feels something for him, but she doesn’t. Even though she admits it, she is basically forced to admit it so Jacob won’t kill himself.

Last minute thoughts:
I am officially confused! I have no clue if I’m team Edward, or Jacob! So at the moment, I am … Team Switzerland! *cheerful applause* But I’ve decided that I can’t stay “Team Switzerland” forever so I will decide after I see Breaking Dawn! I can’t wait!!!!

Buy: The Twilight Saga: Eclipse (Two-Disc Special Edition)

Movie Rating: I give this movie 4.5 Treasure Chests!

Leave me a comment and tell me if your team Edward, Jacob, or Switzerland! I’d love to know what you think!

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