Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Movie Review: Warm Bodies

Title: Warm Bodies

Year: 2013

Stars: Nicholas Hoult, Teresa Palmer, Rob Corddry, Dave Franco, Analeigh Tipton, Cory Hardrict, John Malkovich

Director: Jonathan Levine

Writer(s): Jonathan Levine (screenplay) based on book of same name by Isaac Marion

Studio: Mandeville Films

Distributor: Summit Entertainment

Genre: Zombie romance

Synopsis: After R (a highly unusual zombie) saves Julie from an attack, the two form a relationship that sets in motion a sequence of events that might transform the entire lifeless world.

Taglines: Cold body. Warm heart.

He's still dead but he's getting warmer

There's nothing hotter than a girl with brains

Dead sexy.

Bros before brains

Love means never having to say you're undead.

Favorite line:
R: What am I doing with my life? I'm so pale. I should get out more. I should eat better. My posture's horrible. I should stand up straighter. People would respect me more if I stood up straighter.
What I liked: It's Romeo and Juliet with zombies. Really, what more could a girl ask for? What's more, I love how the movie compensates for their hero being an inarticulate zombie by having him narrate the voice-over. Doesn't hurt either that R's inner-voice has a knack for sarcasm and irony (see my above favourite line for proof). 

What I didn’t like: Well, for one thing, it was over too soon and the chances of sequel are slim since the ending left few, if any, strings lefts hanging. There's also one scene at the end where you sort of have to tilt your head and ask yourselves if the characters are paying attention to what it is they're actually saying because, while they realize the larger implications, they seem to be rather blind to their immediate ramifications.

I loved it! It proved to be a zombie movie where, praise the gods, the zombies weren't lame. Sorry, but I never got behind the zombie thing. I mean, heck, they SHUFFLE for crying out loud - how can you not outrun that?! Plus, there's no ambition to them; they just want to eat you. Is it wrong of me to want my villains to actually have plots and schemes and thus be a challenge? This movie, however, took zombies and made them something more. Sure, they're still shambling, undead, flesh-eaters. Heck, a major plot point with the hero is that he ate (and at some points eating) the heroine's former boyfriend. But they're still people, still have humanity, still want more than to be slaves to their hunger...until they don't and then they further devolve into a skeletal state with a beast-like mentality focused on their next meal. As R says, they'll eat anything with a heartbeat and while zombies will as well, at least the zombies feel conflicted about it. This is hands down one of the quirkier romances I've seen, and definitely well worth the admission fee!

Would I watch a sequel: Yes, but I find a sequel unlikely

My rating: ☺☺☺☺/5

It's currently in theatres so I would definitely recommend making the trip to view it. Sure, Valentine's Day is in the past, but it's still one of the quirkiest romances around at present.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Top 5 Sundays #39 - Favourite Female Book Characters

The heroes makes us swoon, no question, but more often than not it's the heroine who gives the story its voice, who acts as our eyes and ears within a story, who we most relate with. Her sarcasm, humour, seriousness, and opinions set the tone for the story and can be the difference between a reader connecting with a book and get stuck on the outside. And, of course, we all have our favourites.

So, without further adieu, I present this week's Top 5 - my favourite female book characters.

#5 - Risa Jones (of Keri Arthur's Dark Angels series)
She's snarky, she's powerful, she's loyal, she's kickass, she's brave, she's unbelievably complicated and the best part of all? She's addicted to Coca Cola. She drinks it like other people drink coffee and, OMG, she has her friends trained to pour her glasses of coke following any emotional upheaval or  bad guy skirmish. That alone is an incredible feat - I can barely train mine to keep an emergency bottle in their fridge, should I drop by. That's a heroine anyone can get behind!

#4 - MacKayla Lane (of Karen Marie Moning's Fever series)
She starts off a bubbly, sun-loving, fun-loving blonde and over the course of the book she's...well, she's like a blade being forged in fired; she goes through hell, literally in several instances, and comes out the stronger for it. She's not as bubbly at series end - suffice to say the darkness has rubbed off her more than a bit - but she's still sun-loving and fun-loving and, hey, even blonde. She's a real inspiration on several levels.

#3 - Jane True (of Nicole Peeler's Jane True series)

From the beginning, Jane has been a woman who has been confident about her own identity. Sure, she has an intricate support system and she may not believe herself capable of saving the world, but when it comes to who she is - and what she is - Jane is a character who makes no apologies and simply is as she is, take her or leave her. I took her. She's worth it.

#2 - Kate Daniels (of Ilona Andrews' Kate Daniels series)
She's the daughter of a man so powerful that he's been worshiped as a god more than once over the centuries. She's the spouse of a man who can take the form of a prehistoric lion and who leads a pack of almost two thousand shapeshifters. She's sent gods running with their tail between their legs, or at least those gods she let live. She's got buckets of attitude, loads of spunk, and enough power to cow the powerful...and somehow still ends up in situations you would've have thought toddlers knew to avoid. Epic.

#1 - Charley Davidson (of Darynda Jones' Charley Davidson series)
She's the Grim Reaper - a lost soul magnet and portal to Heaven. Every demon this side of Hell wants to get their hands on her, every other ghost wants her help in some way or another, and her love life? Well, her love interest in the son of Satan. Need more be said? What I love most about her though is her sense of humour and the healthy helping of sarcasm that comes along with it. Charley, simply put, is the most-like-me character I've ever read...super powers aside.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Top 5 Sundays #38 - Favourite Romance Novels!

Ah, romance. The stories that tell you about two souls battling the odds, overcoming obstacles, defeating prejudices, and ending up living happily ever after. Eventually. Sometimes we're talking vampires, sometimes werewolves, sometimes fae or witches or demons or humans or a combination thereof. Sometimes it's set in the past, sometimes the future, sometimes the present, sometimes whole other worlds. No matter what though, these are stories meant to pull at your heart and illustrate just how enduring love can be, despite the difficulties it faces.

#5 - Seducing the Vampire by Michele Hauf

This book has a couple who must overcome social status (she's nobility, he's illegitimate), prejudice (she's a pure blooded vampire, he's a vamp/werewolf halfbreed), a scorned lover (his brother and a pure blooded noble to boot) and, oh yes, her death (which is actually an immobilization spell that leaves her trapped in a glass coffin underground in Paris' catacombs...needless to say she wakes up insane two hundred years later).

#4 - Kiss at Midnight by Eloisa James
A retelling of Cinderella, this story has a prince in an arranged marriage meeting his cousin's finacee who's actually a woman impersonating her ill sister at her wicked stepmother's insistence. Both these characters have determination and wit playing in their favour, but Kate's deception and Gabriel's pride keep getting in their way and tripping them up right to the end.
“Give me one last time,” he begged. “Please, please. I beg you.”

“I—” She stopped and started again. “I’m afraid, Gabriel. You’ll break my heart.”

“Mine is already broken.” 
#3 -  Lord of Scoundrels by Loretta Chase
“With the world securely in order, Dain was able to devote the leisurely bath time to editing his mental dictionary. He removed his wife from the general category labeled "Females" and gave her a section of her own. He made a note that she didn't find him revolting, and proposed several explanations: (a) bad eyesight and faulty hearing, (b)a defect in a portion of her otherwise sound intellect, (c) an inherited Trent eccentricity, or (d) an act of God. Since the Almighty had not done him a single act of kindness in at least twenty-five years, Dain thought it was about bloody time, but he thanked his Heavenly Father all the same, and promised to be as good as he was capable of being.”
Enough said.

#2 - And One Last Thing ... by Molly Harper
The main character, Lacey, notifies her cheating husband that she plans to divorce him in an email. An email that takes the form of his monthly business newsletter. Which she forwards to all his clients and business associates. It's glorious. And disasterous. But mostly glorious. When Lacey then flees the town scorn by running away to the family cabin, she meets Monroe, former cop turned successful writer and gets to work on some writing of her own. In true Harper style, this book is a through-through romantic comedy that would do the likes of Pretty Woman and 27 Dresses
and their ilk proud.

#1 - A Hunger Like No Other by Kresley Cole
After spending centuries chained to wall and being tortured daily by flames as a prisoner of vampires,  Lachlain MacRieve rips off his own leg (don't worry - it grows back) in order to reach his destined and long-awaited mate who just happens to be a half-vampire. Their relationship goes downhill from there but somehow manages to come around to a happily ever after. It's an amazing story of overcoming the obstacles and defeating the odds to find your happiness. What's not to love about that?

Saturday, February 16, 2013

REVIEW: Jane Austen's Northanger Abbey

Book: Northanger Abbey

Author: Jane Austen

Series: Stand-alone

Publishing stats: April 2006 by Penguin Books Ltd (first published December 1817)

Genre: Victorian Romance

Cover Blurb: While enjoying a six weeks' stay in fashionable Bath, the young and callow Catherine Morland is introduced to the delights of high society. Thanks to a new literary diet of the sensational and the macabre, Catherine travels to Northanger Abbey fully expecting to become embroiled in a Gothic adventure of intrigue and suspense and, once there, soon begins to form the most gruesome and improbable theories about the exploits of its occupants. An early work, but published posthumously, Northanger Abbey is a satire on the Gothic mode typified by the novels of Ann Radcliffe, as well as a witty comedy of manners in the style of Jane Austen's later novels and, ultimately, an enchanting love story.

First line: No one who had ever seen Catherine Morland in her infancy would have supposed her born to be an heroine.

What I liked: If Catherine Morland was the heroine of any other type of novel, she'd be branded too stupid to live within the first ten minutes of her adventure. She always believes the best of people, thinking that any wrongs they commit were done through ignorance rather than intent, and yet at the same time she allows the Gothic novels she reads to have her suspecting a general of murdering his wife (her justification being that his daughter's comment that she hadn't been home when her mother passed away). Enter Henry Tilney whose wit, humour, and compassion  paint him as the perfect match. And that's what I loved most - the pairing of Henry and Catherine and the balancing of their personalities. It was remarkably well done in true Austen style.

What I didn’t like: Given that what I liked best was the pairing of Catherine Morland and Henry Tilney it should come as no surprise that what I liked least was that there was so little of them together! In fact, what you get of their interactions is a few snippets of conversation, more often than not with his sister in attendance. I would have loved more of these two but, alas, instead there's more interaction between Catherine and the dastardly Mr. Thorpe. A waste. Like reading lots about Elizabeth and Wickham and being skimped on the Darcy airtime.

Overall: The book gives the impression of being but a brief window into this world; it's like a brief vacation taken in Catherine Morland's life. Incidentally, it actually does span Catherine Morland's six week visit to Bath and Northanger Abbey. Its tone is written as a third-party account, the narrator occasionally lapsing into first person to offer criticism, opinions, and explanations of the events and characters as they develop. It's definitely a memorable and engaging style. It was definitely over too quickly; several points, such as Thorpe's villainy (so to speak) and Catherine's romance with Tilney, could have used more fleshing out. I realize that this book is nearing its two hundredth anniversary, but I rather wish that Austen had written a sequel of sorts or perhaps an epilogue to show just what shape their happily ever after takes. Not to mention what becomes of the Thorpes and Catherine's brother, James.

Would I read this author again: Yes - Mansfield Park is up next!

My rating: ☺☺☺☺/5

To purchase the book for yourself, you can find it at pretty much anywhere, there are tons so many different editions out there! But, in the interest of keeping true to Calliope's Domain style, here are some links anyways!  Chapters.Indigo.ca, Amazon.ca, Amazon.com, or The Book Depository. Enjoy!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Top 5 Sundays #37 - Sexiest TV Characters!

When it comes to sexy, TV has more than enough options to go around, regardless of your personal tastes and opinions on the matter. Blond, ginger, browm? Check, check, check. Brains, brawn, magic? Check, check, check. Pick your poison and TV has someone on some show on some network that will suit - the tricky part is finding him or her. After all, there are a lot of shows and a lot of networks out there to peruse and who know when you'll come across that special someone?

So, without further ado, I present Calliope's Domain's Top 5 Sexiest TV Characters!

#5 - The Tenth Doctor - David Tennant (Doctor Who, BBC)
Allow me to sum him up with two quotes from the series:
"See, there's the thing. I'm the Doctor, but beyond that, I - I just don't know. I literally do not know who I am. It's all untested. Am I funny? Am I sarcastic? Sexy?  [he winks at Rose] Am I an old misery? Life and soul? Right-handed? Left-handed? A gambler? A fighter? A coward? A traitor, a liar, a nervous wreck? I mean, judging by the evidence, I've certainly got a gob." 
- The Christmas Invasion (Season 2, Episode 1)
"He's like fire and ice and rage. He's like the night and the storm in the heart of the sun...He's ancient and forever. He burns at the centre of time and can see the turn of the universe...and... he's wonderful." 
- The Family of Blood (Season 3, Episode 9)

#4 - Steve McGarrett - Alex O'Loughlin (Hawaii Five-0, CBS)
Steve is the sort of man with a clear concept of right and wrong and, were it not for the fact he was running a governor sanctioned task force, he'd no doubt be considered a vigilante. I mean, heck, he's held suspects over the edge of roofs, tied them to the hood of his car for high-speed pursuits, and dropped them into shark infested waters. And that was just in the first season. Sure, his sanity may be a little questionable, but what's not to love about a guy who's just trying to do the right thing at any cost?

#3 - Damon Salvatore - Ian Somerhalder (The Vampire Diaries, The CW)
For over a century and a half, Damon worked to save the woman he loved from eternal imprisonment only to learn that she had never been imprisoned to begin with. He then falls for his brother's girlfriend, a woman he believes deserves better than him, and sets about securing her happily ever after even if it doesn't include him in any role beyond friendship. For a man cast in the light of villainy, he's got one noble heart inside him.

#2 - Dean Winchester - Jensen Ackles (Supernatural, The CW)
He fights monsters, he conquers evil, he saves the world, and he looks out for his little brother. He drives all over the USA in a '67 Chevy Impala playing at Lone Ranger (well, in the sense he rides in, saves people, and leaves than the lone part - he's partnered with his brother after all). He cops attitude to Satan himself, snaps sarcasm at angels, and stares down heathen gods, all of it with a cheeky grin. What can I say? The man knows how to rock the swagger.

#1 - Oliver Queen/The Hood - Stephen Amell (Arrow, The CW)
There is nothing sexier than a man who knows how to handle a car, how to make an engine purr and how to make all that steel and power take to the roads with a grace and sleekness you'd never expect of a machine. Except, that is, for a man with a bow. Be he Robin Hood or Legolas, there's something about a man who can take a bent stick with taunt string between its ends and turn it into weapon. To say nothing of his ability to aim. Enter Oliver Queen; wealthy playboy by day, avenging archer by night, with a tortured past, a heart of gold, and a tendency to brood. Oh, and did I mention that there hasn't been an episode yet that hasn't featured a shot or two of a shirtless Oliver training? *sigh* Need more be said?

Friday, February 8, 2013

REVIEW: Nora Robert's Morrigan's Cross

Book: Morrigan's Cross

Author: Nora Roberts

Series: The Circle Trilogy

Publishing stats: August 29th 2006 by Jove (first published as hard cover January 1st 2006)

Genre: Romance

Cover Blurb: In the last days of high summer, with lightning striking blue in a black sky, the sorcerer stood on a high cliff overlooking the raging sea...

Belting out his grief into the storm, Hoyt Mac Cionaoith rails against the evil that has torn his twin brother from their family's embrace. Her name is Lilith. Existing for over a thousand years, she has lured countless men to an immortal doom with her soul-stealing kiss. But now, this woman known as vampire will stop at nothing until she rules this world—and those beyond it...

Hoyt is no match for the dark siren. But his powers come from the goddess Morrigan, and it is through her that he will get his chance at vengeance. At Morrigan's charge, he must gather five others to form a ring of power strong enough to overcome Lilith. A circle of six: himself, the witch, the warrior, the scholar, the one of many forms and the one he's lost. And it is in this circle, hundreds of years in the future, where Hoyt will learn how strong his spirit—and his heart—have become...

First line: There was a storm in him, as black and vicious as that which bullied its way across the sea.

What I liked: I love those stories where the hero or heroine is from another time or world and finds themselves displaced into ours in the present day. Seeing them try to figure out computers, cars, and television, to say nothing of fast food and soda pop, is always a real delight and I particularly love when they start making comparisons between their world/time and ours. This book has half the main cast playing the displacement game; Hoyt is hopping forward in time and Larkin and Moira are crossing over from another world. I particularly loved the interactions between Hoyt and his brother Cian, his vampiric brother Cian who not only got himself to the present day by the long route, by living through the interceding years, but had the sardonic, embittered sense of humour to make the most of his brother's ignorance.

What I didn’t like:
There's nothing wrong with the noble and honourable knight; he's stood as the heroic ideal for centuries after all. Unfortunately, as with everything else, virtue can be had too much as well - almost sickeningly so. Hoyt, his love interest, Glenna, Moira and Larkin have very clear ideas of right and wrong, good and bad, and stubbornly hold to them regardless of consequences. Don't get me wrong, it's admirable to hold on to your honour and beliefs. But when multiple worlds are relying on you to live long enough to face the big bad evil witch and her bigger and badder army risking your life - especially when you know your training is lacking and your chances of success are low is pure idiocy. And to do so repeatedly is just annoying. Especially when there are other characters about pointing out how dumb they're being.

Overall: I didn't love it, but I didn't hate it. I love Cian - he was a great character that was a pretty good blend of sarcastic humour and classic vampire. Hanging around his brother and being drawn in to this battle preparation thaws him somewhat, but at book's end he's still the same dark and broody vampire he is at the start. What's more, he serves as a stand in for the reader (or at least this reader) and gives his cohorts a much needed reality check several times, though more often than not they dismiss his advice as coming from the vampire. The plot was intriguing, weaving history and religion together with magic and mayhem for a delightfully suspenseful and complex story. Unfortunately, the goody-goody quality of some of the heroes is too over the top; there's being moral and doing the right thing and then there's being stupid and risking too much. I understood where they were coming from, but it got to be tiresome more than once. What's more there are times where the story lagged, where the balance of Glenna and Hoyt's romance and their larger mission seemed off, and where the action seemed squeezed in. More than once it seemed like Lilith's appearances and mentions were more for the sake of reminding the reader she was around than for any actual development. Overall, therefore, my opinion of the book was rather lukewarm.

Would I read this author again:
Yes - even if this book had been wretched, which it wasn't, Nora Roberts has written in so many other genres and styles that it would be utterly ridiculous to judge her whole volume of work based on but a single piece!

My rating: ☺☺/5

To purchase the book for yourself, you can find it at Chapters.Indigo.ca, Amazon.ca, Amazon.com, or The Book Depository. Enjoy!

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Top 5 Sundays #36 - Series I Plan to Start in 2013!

Books are like the animal kingdom; even as new specimens evolve, there's still so many more already out there just waiting to be discovered. This week's Top 5 post is all about the future - the Top 5  Series I Plan to Start in 2013 - but as we set out to explore my goals here, I just wanted to clarify that new to me doesn't mean new to the world. It's a big, dense book orchard out there, folks, and it's not always the low hanging fruit that peeks interest and curries favour. Did that metaphor makes sense? O_o Oh, well, either way you get the idea. 

#5 - The Novels of  Jane Austen
Alright, so if you want to be technical this isn't really a series. But they are six books written by the same author that share similar (if not the same) settings, themes, and tropes. I just finished Northanger Abbey and am planning on hunting down another target in due course.

#4 - A Song of Ice and Fire series by George R.R. Martin
Do I want to read this series? Do I not? I keep going back and forth on this and quite simply can't decide. On the one hand, I like the television series well enough and if the plot of the book's even half as good (and these things tend to have the book as doubly good), it should be one hell of a read. At the very least, I want to read the first book to know if the rest are worth pursuing. And, hey, also? Wolves.

#3 - The Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare
So, for the record, it's not always movies and television that sparks my interest in a series but sometimes it does give the little extra push of incentive that takes a series from "Oh, that seems interesting!" to "OMG! Must find! Must find!" It helps that books has the whole "normal girl learns of not-so normal origins and finds herself drawn into conflicts of previously hidden/unknown magical world" plot device working for it.

#2 - Celestial Blues series by Vicki Pettersson

On the one hand, you've got rockabilly girl Kit Craig, an eternally optimistic and peppy reporter, and on the other hand, there's angel-turned-human Grif Shaw, an embittered former private detective whose own unsolved murder is a cold case fifty-years frozen.  And they're working together. Colour me intrigued. Plus some generous soul gifted me with a copy of the first books months ago, so really I've no excuse not to get reading this one.

#1 - Hercule Poirot series by Agatha Christie
So, um, remember when I said that it's not always movies and television sparking my interest? Well, I want to state for the record that my sudden desire to delve into Agatha Christie has nothing whatsoever to do with that episode of Doctor Who - "The Unicorn and the Wasp" - that featured Agatha Christie and sang her praises. No, not at all, nope. And Murder, She Wrote has nothing to do with my interest in Christie's Miss Marple series. (^_~)