Ip Man

ip-man-movie-poster-2008-1020698460Ip Man
The blurb: A semi-biographical account of Yip Man, the successful martial arts master who taught the Chinese martial art of Wing Chun to the world.
My rating: 4/5
Tagged: action, biography, drama
Date I watched this movie 03/04/2016

What did I think?I really wasn’t sure what I was going to think about this. Martial Arts movies, although I do karate, have never really appealed to me, but I agreed to let Faisal pick a movie and this is what he chose!

I will still say that this is definitely a slow starter, you have to wait a bit before you really get into it and you have to overlook the bad acting at the beginning. Once the movie kicks in, literally, then you really begin to appreciate it.

I think it tells a decent story of the life of Ip Man and the occupation of China by the Japanese at that time. Obviously I’m not sure how true to real life the movie is because I’m not familiar with the time period but it does add background to the character of Ip Man, so the movie wasn’t just about kicking ass and taking names.

As far as the fighting scenes are concerned, Donnie Yen does do his art justice. I just loved the way the story make him seem invincible and you root for him when he fights the baddie who beats all the other masters.

Surprisingly good and I’m actually looking forward to seeing the rest of the series

The Gathering by Kelley Armstrong

Kelley Armstrong – The Gathering
The blurb: Maya Delaney has always felt a close bond with nature. The woods around her home are a much-loved sanctuary and the pawprint birthmark on her hip feels like a sign that she belongs. But then strange and terrible things begin to happen in the tiny medical-research town of Salmon Creek!

My rating: 4/5
Tagged: young adult, paranormal, urban fantasy, supernatural
Date I started this book: 21/02/2016
Date I finished this book 24/02/2016

What did I think? The Gathering is the first in a new young adult trilogy set in the same universe as Women of the Otherworld and is similar her The Darkest Powers trilogy. The small town where Maya lives is run by the St. Cloud family and she believes they’re working on top secret medical research. There’s a good chance that’s exactly what they’re doing, but established fans will know who the St. Clouds are even though they’ve not featured heavily in her other books.

The plot is fairly slow and I’m not sure if it will appeal to readers new to Kelley’s world. Personally, I love trying to make all the connections.

Sadly, the book doesn’t really finish. It’s designed as part one of a trilogy and it’s obvious at the end that there’s still much more to tell. I don’t mind this so much because I’ve already started book two

Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind

eternalsunshineEternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind
The blurb: When their relationship turns sour, a couple undergoes a procedure to have each other erased from their memories. But it is only through the process of loss that they discover what they had to begin with.
My rating: 4/5
Tagged: drama, romance, science-fiction
Date I watched this movie 21/02/2016

What did I think?I watched this movie with my dad and Jimmy – my Dad’s a big Jim Carrey film and I’d never heard of this movie until now.

The movie basically tells the story of Joel and Clementine, they had a relationship that did not end well, luckily for both, there is a doctor who offers an alternative to suffering from heart breaking: erase all the memories related to a person. While the premise sounds a little too weird, it establishes a very interesting possibility, what if you could do this? It makes you think about it for a while; yes, we do all have memories we would wish to go away, but would we do it? Is it better to forget than to face and learn from the experience? The `memory deleting’ situation is definitely one of the best moments of the film.

And it is because in Joel’s `memory deleting’ process (which takes the most part of the film), we get to see all their memories together… tender moments that make you realize what a wonderful relationship they had. It is in this moment in which Joel faces that he may not want to delete Clementine from his head. There are other subplots related to the characters who do the `memory deleting’ which are ok but do not add anything of value to the central story of Joel and Clementine.

While it has some funny moments the movie is not a comedy, actually Carrey’s acting is superb in his character of quiet and indecisive Joel, Kate Winslet performs great as supporting Clementine in Joel’s brain while his memories are being deleted.

Do not be fooled by the premise of the film, it is a very serious movie about relationships and what we learn from them.

The Reckoning by Kelley Armstrong

Kelley Armstrong – The Reckoning
The blurb: Chloe Saunders is fifteen and would love to be normal. Unfortunately, Chloe happens to be a genetically engineered necromancer who can raise the dead without even trying. She and her equally gifted (or should that be ‘cursed’?) friends are now running for their lives from the evil corporation that created them.

As if that’s not enough, Chloe is struggling with her feelings for Simon, a sweet-tempered sorcerer, and his brother Derek, a not so sweet-tempered werewolf. And she has a horrible feeling she’s leaning towards the werewolf…

Definitely not normal.

My rating: 4/5
Tagged: young adult, paranormal, urban fantasy, supernatural
Date I started this book: 17/02/2016
Date I finished this book 20/02/2016

What did I think? Chloe, Derek, Simon and Tori have escaped the catches of the Edison Group with the help of Andrew. A former employee of the Edison Group, and a friend of the boys’ dad, he and a small group of other ex-employees want to stop the experiments the EG are performing and feel the kids may just have the information they need to do so. But Chloe and her friends are cautious. They’ve been through a lot, escaped and been caught repeatedly, and betrayed by those they trusted completely already, is Andrew’s offer of help too good to be true? And even if it is, do they have a choice about staying with him?

I liked the previous two books in this trilogy, but I didn’t love them. I always felt like they were lacking something. But this one I liked a lot more. It felt smoother, like the series really hit its stride. It’s well-paced with a fair bit of action and some good twists and turns. A couple of things along the way I really didn’t see coming.

The love triangle between Chloe and the brothers, Derek and Simon, played out really well and I love how it worked out. Chloe grew up a lot through this book and it really showed. Not to mention she finally learned to stand up for herself. Aside from Chloe, I felt Derek and Tori grew a fair bit through this last book as well making them that bit more ‘real’ to me. Simon is pretty much the same, but his character serves his purpose just fine, without being forgotten.

Aside from the romantic entanglements, the plot is not so cleanly wrapped up. The biggest things are dealt with, but not everything. Why? Because while this is a trilogy, it’s the first part of a series. The second trilogy is titled ‘Darkness Rising’ and follows different characters, subjects of a different Edison Group project. I’m just starting the first of them, The Gathering, and hope we do get to see more of Chloe and her friends.

Back to this book. While there are certain things left open-ended, the majority of plot threads are tied up in this book, or at least enough to give a satisfying conclusion. I would have liked a little more in some ways, but given this is actually the start of a series, which has at least three more books to go, I can’t really expect it to be all tied up.

You’re Never Weird On The Internet (Almost) by Felicia Day

Felicia Day – You’re Never Weird on the Internet (Almost)
The blurb: From online entertainment mogul, actress, and “queen of the geeks” Felicia Day, a funny, quirky, and inspiring memoir about her unusual upbringing, her rise to Internet-stardom, and embracing her individuality to find success in Hollywood.

The Internet isn’t all cat videos. There’s also Felicia Day—violinist, filmmaker, Internet entrepreneur, compulsive gamer, hoagie specialist, and former lonely homeschooled girl who overcame her isolated childhood to become the ruler of a new world… or at least semi-influential in the world of Internet Geeks and Goodreads book clubs.

After growing up in the south where she was “home-schooled for hippie reasons”, Felicia moved to Hollywood to pursue her dream of becoming an actress and was immediately typecast as a crazy cat-lady secretary. But Felicia’s misadventures in Hollywood led her to produce her own web series, own her own production company, and become an Internet star.

Felicia’s short-ish life and her rags-to-riches rise to Internet fame launched her career as one of the most influential creators in new media. Now, Felicia’s strange world is filled with thoughts on creativity, video games, and a dash of mild feminist activism—just like her memoir.

Hilarious and inspirational, You’re Never Weird on the Internet (Almost) is proof that everyone should embrace what makes them different and be brave enough to share it with the world, because anything is possible now—even for a digital misfit.

My rating: 4/5
Tagged: humour, iggleworms, memoir, non-fiction
Date I started this book: 16/02/2016
Date I finished this book 18/02/2016

What did I think? This isn’t the type of book I would normally read but I read it for International Geek Girls Penpals Club Bookworms February 2016 Book Of The Month. And I’m really glad I did because I thoroughly enjoyed it.

I first found out about Felicia Day when I she started guest-starring on Supernatural and didn’t really know much else about her other than that she’s a really big geek.

Her memoir is an honest insight into all the wacky and wonderful that has made her the person she is today. From her unconventional upbringing that allowed her to be as weird as she wanted to be, as she was homeschooled and didn’t face the same social pressure kids and teenagers generally do to fit in, to her struggles as an aspiring actress in Hollywood with a seemingly useless double degree in math and music. And from developing a serious World of Warcraft addiction, right down to using the knowledge she gained spending all those hours lost in a fantasy world to create something that startkicked her career in the geekverse. She wrote The Guild, which focuses on a group of people playing a similar game to WoW and was too niche at the time to be picked up by an established television network, but it was perfect for the Internet; the web series was born.

It is not an easy road though and Felicia doesn’t gloss over the more difficult parts of her life, which makes this not only an incredibly relatable read for those of us who have grown up with the internet, but also genuinely inspiring and insightful for both existing fans of and those who picked up the memoir because they’re interested in one of the TV-shows Felicia has been a part of or the change the Internet has brought to the world; it has fundamentally changed the way we communicate with each other. Forming relationships with someone on the other side of a screen can be both a blessing and a curse at times. Yes, it has become easier to find like-minded people anywhere in the world that we feel that connection with, but it has also become so much easier for the human race to let their worst side flourish, hiding behind the safety of fake personas and made-up screen names – and Felicia has faced some of the worst examples of this herself.

Many of Felicia’s stories resonated with me. I may not have grown up becoming as invested in video games as her but I had similar experiences online. I vividly remember the feeling of wonder at having the world at my fingertips and losing hours – sometimes days – when completely engrossed in something on the Internet, usually Youtube or Tumblr. It was interesting to read about how ‘back in the day’ it was the rare excitement of connecting with someone who was as much into a barely known fandom as you were and using existing characters in role-playing games or fan fiction that made those hours disappear.

You’re Never Weird on the Internet (Almost) is an insightful and honest memoir about one woman’s journey of growing up and finding her place in the world, both online and offline. Felicia’s witty and self-aware humour shines through on every page, even the ones detailing low points in her life. She does so unashamed of being different, instead highlighting that she is proud of the quirks that make her unique and, well, her. We could all do with some reassurance every now and again that it is okay to completely be yourself, whatever shape or form this may take (as long as you don’t hurt someone by doing so), and this book provides just that, while at the same time being an incredibly funny and fascinating read that was just addictive as the Internet itself can be.

The Awakening by Kelley Armstrong

Kelley Armstrong – The Awakening
The blurb: You don’t have to be alive to be awakened.

Chloe Saunders is a living science experiment—not only can she see ghosts, but she was genetically altered by a sinister organization called the Edison Group. She’s a teenage necromancer whose powers are out of control, which means she can raise the dead without even trying. Now Chloe’s running for her life with three of her supernatural friends—a charming sorcerer, a cynical werewolf, and a disgruntled witch—and they have to find someone who can help them before the Edison Group catches them.

Or die trying

My rating: 4/5
Tagged: young adult, paranormal, urban fantasy, supernatural
Date I started this book: 10/02/2016
Date I finished this book 16/02/2016

What did I think? The Summoning was so exciting and I was really looking forward to reading The Awakening. I’ve now read it, and I’m feeling a little disappointed.

Don’t get me wrong, the book itself wasn’t bad; the characters are just as awesome as they were before, the writing as just as good, there’s no fault there. I think my problem is with the plot. I haven’t read the third book in the series, The Reckoning, yet, obviously, but it felt to me like Kelley knew how the series was going to end, but couldn’t just start The Reckoning after The Summoning, so needed The Awakening as filler to bridge the gap. Not an awful lot happens for a book of its length. Before I knew it, I was over half way through, and still waiting for something important to the actual plot line from The Summoning.

I love the way Kelley writes; Chloe’s voice, thoughts and fears are just so fascinating, you don’t want to put the book down. I want to get to know Chloe, and the others, better because their lives and what they’re going through is just so clever. Chloe learns a little more about her necromancy ability in this book, and it’s kind of freaky just how far she can go. Tori has to face some harsh truths, and I can’t help but feel sorry for her, even when she is being a cow. Derek is so awesome, I swear; he’s strong, he’s brave, he’s self-sacrificing, he’s just brilliant! Simon is lovely, but he annoys me sometimes with just how nice he is. I know he likes Chloe, but he shouldn’t be so happy-cheery all the time, it’s grating. Liz is still one of my favourite characters, she’s just on the right side of quirky, and I love her! I am liking the hint of a love triangle that weaves its way throughout the book, though I know who I would choose.

They find out something huge about themselves in this book, and it puts them all on edge a little, though I can’t really go into why without spoiling a major plot point (which I would like to point out we find out at the beginning of the book). There is a fair amount of action, of the creepy ghost/zombie kind, dodging baddies kind, and fighting kind, and it’s all suspenseful and will have you sitting on the edge of your seat. Quite a bit of a thrill roller-coaster.

I’m really looking forward to reading The Reckoning

Deadpool

deadpoolDeadpool
The blurb: A former Special Forces operative turned mercenary is subjected to a rogue experiment that leaves him with accelerated healing powers, adopting the alter ego Deadpool.
My rating: 4/5
Tagged: action, adventure, fantasy
Date I watched this movie 13/02/2016

What did I think?I thought this was an 18 and I was going to have to try to sneak in but it was a 15 so I was all good and legal in attendance!

This movie is completely mad. Thanks to the brilliantly funny, no-holds-barred brand of comedy that is absolutely everywhere from start to finish, Deadpool is a consistently hilarious comedy, made even better by a very well-written plot, excellent performances, and amazingly directed action.

Deadpool is a movie made for the fans. In comic book lore, he’s the ultimate foul-mouthed, wise-cracking rogue superhero, and the movie takes that character and places him on-screen in exactly the same form. Therefore, rather than the more family friendly, action-oriented superhero movies that dominate the box office nowadays, prepare for something completely different.

Although the story and action are great, it’s the humour that’s the real stand-out of this movie. There’s so much bad language, and so much adult humour, but in this movie, it works like magic.

I didn’t think Deadpool was the funniest movie ever, but I was laughing on a consistent basis right the way through this movie. The shock value of the swearing, extreme violence, self-referential humour and countless fourth wall breaks didn’t wear off at all, which is testament to just how brilliant a script this film has. Even if you’re not into the world of superheroes, Deadpool can still be a fantastically enjoyable movie just because it’s so funny.

But don’t think that this is just a comedy, because it does shine on the story and action front too. Whilst tying into the X-Men Universe, Deadpool is a very unique superhero movie. It’s not all about saving the world, it’s just a story of a guy who wants to get revenge on a man who completely ruined his life. And because of that, you can actually relate to this guy more so than any other big blockbuster superhero because his determination is so simple and real.

As well as revenge story, Deadpool is also a bit of a love story. It’s the revenge that drives the film, but the relationship between Wade Wilson and his old girlfriend is a genuinely believable one (helped by the fact that Reynolds and Morena Baccarin work so well together), and is yet another brilliantly-written plot point that allows you to get more invested in what is a hugely entertaining film.

The Summoning by Kelley Armstrong

Kelley Armstrong – The Summoning
The blurb: My name is Chloe Saunders and my life will never be the same again.

All I wanted was to make friends, meet boys, and keep on being ordinary. I don’t even know what that means anymore. It all started on the day that I saw my first ghost – and the ghost saw me.

Now there are ghosts everywhere and they won’t leave me alone. To top it all off, I somehow got myself locked up in Lyle House, a “special home” for troubled teens. Yet the home isn’t what it seems. Don’t tell anyone, but I think there might be more to my housemates than meets the eye. The question is, whose side are they on? It’s up to me to figure out the dangerous secrets behind Lyle House… before its skeletons come back to haunt me.

My rating: 4/5
Tagged: young adult, paranormal, urban fantasy, supernatural
Date I started this book: 03/02/2016
Date I finished this book 06/02/2016

What did I think? I thought The Summoning was a really thoroughly enjoyable read and am very much looking forward to reading the next two in the series.

The first chapter (which is a prologue featuring a young Chloe) had me hooked from the first page. It sets the tone for how this book is going to be, a bit creepy with lots of ideas left for you to get your head around. I really liked how it takes a while for the reader (and Chloe for that matter) to really grasp what is going on in this book. There is so much that is teased out slowly as the book goes on and Chloe gets so many mixed messages that she starts to doubt herself which means you as the reader do too.

Another thing I loved about this book was the characterisation. Chloe was a fab leading lady and enjoyed following her story but I also loved all of the other teenagers around her, even Tori was was a complete bitch to everyone. I loved the dialogue between them as it was often witty and amusing.

Once the book kicks off the action is fast paced and exciting. I loved finding out about the supernatural potentials of the main characters and delving more into the whys and wherefores of how they all ended up at Lyle house and why the place was built in the first place.

The ending was jaw dropping. I was stunned about what happened between two of the characters and when the book ended I wanted more straight away.

All in all an excellent start to a trilogy that I can’t wait to continue.

Across A Star-Swept Sea by Diana Peterfreund

Diana Peterfreund – Across A Star-Swept Sea
The blurb: Centuries after wars nearly destroyed civilization, the two islands of New Pacifica stand alone, a terraformed paradise where even the Reduction—the devastating brain disorder that sparked the wars—is a distant memory. Yet on the isle of Galatea, an uprising against the ruling aristocrats has turned deadly. The revolutionaries’ weapon is a drug that damages their enemies’ brains, and the only hope is rescue by a mysterious spy known as the Wild Poppy.

On the neighboring island of Albion, no one suspects that the Wild Poppy is actually famously frivolous aristocrat Persis Blake. The teenager uses her shallow, socialite trappings to hide her true purpose: her gossipy flutternotes are encrypted plans, her pampered sea mink is genetically engineered for spying, and her well-publicized new romance with handsome Galatean medic Justen Helo… is her most dangerous mission ever.

Though Persis is falling for Justen, she can’t risk showing him her true self, especially once she learns he’s hiding far more than simply his disenchantment with his country’s revolution and his undeniable attraction to the silly socialite he’s pretending to love. His darkest secret could plunge both islands into a new dark age, and Persis realizes that when it comes to Justen Helo, she’s not only risking her heart, she’s risking the world she’s sworn to protect.

In this thrilling adventure inspired by The Scarlet Pimpernel, Diana Peterfreund creates an exquisitely rendered world where nothing is as it seems and two teens with very different pasts fight for a future only they dare to imagine.

My rating: 4/5
Tagged: young adult, dystopia, romance, science-fiction
Date I started this book: 03/02/2016
Date I finished this book 06/02/2016

What did I think? While I will always have a place in my heart for its companion novel For Darkness Shows the Stars, I must admit that Across A Star-Swept Sea really brought my love for Diana Peterfreund and her writing to new heights. Her characters are incredibly well-drawn, riddled with complexities and flaws that make them more human. But even more than that, her story is told fantastically, with twists and turns that will definitely blow readers away. The combination of these two elements set against a world that’s lovely, lush and very different from its predecessor is really what makes this novel such a phenomenal hit.

Persis is, by far, the strongest character in this novel, particularly because she leads a double life. Her unquestionable intelligence, and her ability to slip from one character into another, make her the perfect candidate to play the role of the Wild Poppy, who comes to the aid of those in need. She’s also a wonderful daughter and friend, who is loyal, kind and always willing to help those she loves. It was marvelous to see her capabilities shine in this book, even when faced with the most dire of situations. Persis Blake is most definitely kick-ass, and I absolutely adored her for it!

The story in this book is very clever, as it combines the romance, the Wild Poppy’s adventures and the political ties between the neighboring islands of Galatea and Albion. Having too many plot threads could have been potentially confusing, but Peterfreund certainly handles each one skillfully. With an equal balance of swoon-worthy moments with adorably nerdy Justen Helo, tense encounters as the Wild Poppy and revelations that caught me off guard, it’s no surprise that Across A Star-Swept Sea is one of my favorite reads this year.

For The Darkness Shows The Stars by Diana Peterfreund

Diana Peterfreund – For Darkness Shows the Stars
The blurb: Fans of Divergent will love Diana Peterfreund’s take on Jane Austen’s Persuasion set in a post-apocalyptic world.

In the dystopian future of For Darkness Shows the Stars, a genetic experiment has devastated humanity. In the aftermath, a new class system placed anti-technology Luddites in absolute power over vast estates—and any survivors living there.

Elliot North is a dutiful Luddite and a dutiful daughter who runs her father’s estate. When the boy she loved, Kai, a servant, asked her to run away with him four years ago, she refused, although it broke her heart.

Now Kai is back. And while Elliot longs for a second chance with her first love, she knows it could mean betraying everything she’s been raised to believe is right.

For Darkness Shows the Stars is a breathtaking YA romance about opening your mind to the future and your heart to the one person you know can break it.

My rating: 4/5
Tagged: young adult, dystopia, romance, science-fiction
Date I started this book: 31/01/2016
Date I finished this book 02/02/2016

What did I think? With this book, for some reason, I had a preconceived idea of what this book was about. Upon hearing it was a Science Fiction/Post Apocalyptic retelling of Jane Austen’s Persuasion, I thought I was sure I knew what I was getting into. I was initially caught off guard by a mood and setting of the book I wasn’t expecting to read. This at first had me reading this book much slower than it ought to have been read until I gave it a second chance. I’m glad I did! This book is a gorgeous Post Apocalyptic, yet refined retelling of a story you thought you knew.

I was initially not excited about the Austen-era propriety in the book, as I don’t usually associate it with Science Fiction. By the midway point I decided that it fit tone of the story and provided a really great contrast between technology and the ways of the stingy Luddites who want nothing to do with the technology that previously destroyed the human population. The world itself was absolutely gorgeous. Diana Peterfreund just has a way of describing the setting and setting up the mood of a story!

The characters of this book were so deeply written and rather heart-wrenching at times. The relationship of Elliot and Kai was written really well. It wasn’t too lovey-dovey, but rather thoughtful and powerful, crossing the boundaries of their society. The social boundaries in this book are much deeper than upper and lower class. The Reduction was an event in the book’s past where humans experiments with genetic enhancement went horribly wrong and all who survived became ‘Reduced’ to the mental capacity of a young child. I loved this controversial subject and I think it’s horrifyingly believable!

I would recommend this book to people who have a taste for unique worlds and love the artful language. It’s definitely a unique but well-executed contribution to the post apocalyptic genre.