Thursday, 30 August 2012

Tea Time Thursday: White Tea: Mango Madness


White Tea: Mango Madness

Ingredients: Apple pieces, white Bai Mu Dan tea, orange peel, pineapple cubes, mango cubes, orange slices, freeze dried tangerine pieces, safflower petals, freeze dried strawberry pieces, marigold blossoms, artificial flavouring.

     This delicious. I'm not sure how much it qualifies for a tea. It's more like a herbal tisane with a hint of tea. Which is what white tea is primarily used for, as a base and enhancer for more fruity teas. When I first opened up this tea all I saw was the copious amounts of fruit included, big huge you-can't-miss-it kind of chunks. It smells heavenly, like you're on a tropical island with a fruity margarita in hand and you're just enjoying the sun and the sounds of the surf. 

     When I first brewed it, my first thought was that it was okay, nothing great about it. But it wasn't until the second cup, when the fruit had a chance to rehydrate and plum back up that I really fell in love with it. I could pick up the sweetness of the fruit, the zest from the orange and tangerine and the floral flavor from the flowers and tea. It came together so perfectly that sugar was definitely not needed. This was equally amazing hot or cold - so no tea went wasted. But the strength in the flavor started tapering off at about the 5th brewing, so it's probably good for one big, long steeped pot of tea. 

     What this tea really reminded me of was Tropical flavoured skittles. One of each color of the tropical rainbow in your mouth at the same time!
Overall: 4/5 Hot Cups of Tea!
It's a delicious afternoon pick me up if you're looking to fulfil your sweet tooth craving!

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Teaser Tuesday (15): Eve & Adam

Teaser Tuesday: Eve & Adam
Teaser Tuesday is a weekly bookish meme hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
·Grab your current read 
Open to a random page 
Share two (2) "teaser" sentences from somewhere on that page 
Be careful not to include any spoilers so as not to ruin the book for others.

Author: Katherine Applegate & Michael Grant
Publication Date: October 2, 2012
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Pages: 304
Genre: YA, Science Fiction, Fantasy

Description from Goodreads:
Sixteen-year-old Evening Spiker lives an affluent life in San Francisco with her mother, a successful geneticist and owner of Spiker Biotech. Sure, Evening misses her father who died mysteriously, but she’s never really questioned it. Much like how she’s never stopped to think how off it is that she’s never been sick. That is, until she’s struck by a car and is exposed to extensive injuries. Injuries that seem to be healing faster than physically possible. 
While recuperating in Spiker Biotech’s lush facilities, she meets Solo Plissken, a very attractive, if off-putting boy her age who spent his life at Spiker Biotech. Like Evening, he’s never questioned anything... until now. Solo drops hints to Evening that something isn’t right, and that her mother may be behind it. Evening puts this out of her mind and begins her summer internship project: To simulate the creation of the perfect boy. With the help of Solo, Evening uncovers secrets so big they could change the world completely.


      " "Wait!" Aislin says. She reaches into the bag and then, yes, draws out a long string of condoms. "At least," she says, "they didn't take anything I really...need." " (e-arc, loc 478). 

I love Eve's best friend Aislin so much, no matter how bad of an influence she is! 

What's your teaser this Tuesday? Leave me a link and I'll be sure to swing by!

Cover Reveal: Vengeance Bound

Cover Reveal: Vengeance Bound by Justina Ireland

Expected Publication Date: April 2, 2013
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Pages: 320

Book Description from Goodreads: 
The Goddess Test meets Dexter in an edgy, compelling debut about one teen’s quest for revenge…no matter how far it takes her.
Cory Graff is not alone in her head. Bound to a deal of desperation made when she was a child, Cory’s mind houses the Furies—the hawk and the serpent—lingering always, waiting for her to satisfy their bloodlust. After escaping the asylum where she was trapped for years, Cory knows how to keep the Furies quiet. By day, she lives a normal life, but by night, she tracks down targets the Furies send her way. And she brings down Justice upon them.
Cory’s perfected her system of survival, but when she meets a mysterious boy named Niko at her new school, she can’t figure out how she feels about him. For the first time, the Furies are quiet in her head around a guy. But does this mean that Cory’s finally found someone who she can trust, or are there greater factors at work? 
As Cory’s mind becomes a battlefield, with the Furies fighting for control, Cory will have to put everything on the line to hold on to what she’s worked so hard to build.

I'm so excited to participating in this AToMR hosted cover reveal! This book sounds like it's going to be awesome. The cover has a very Medusa feel to it with all the stone animals frozen in mid movement, it also has a Grecian look with the columns which fits in perfectly with the deadly Greek Furies that this story involves. The older feel to the background is a nice contrast to the stark modernity of the girl in the foreground (who I assume is Cory). I haven't read The Goddess Test, but the premise definitely has a hint of Dexter, but also of Starcrossed too. Either way I can't wait to get my hands on this book!

Find it at: 

Sunday, 26 August 2012

Review: Tempest (Tempest, #1) by Julie Cross

Tempest (Tempest, #1) by Julie Cross

Author: Julie Cross
Publication Date: January 17, 2012
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Pages: 334
Genre: YA, Science Fiction, Fantasy, Time Travel
Source: Borrowed from library
Description from Goodreads: 
The year is 2009.  Nineteen-year-old Jackson Meyer is a normal guy… he’s in college, has a girlfriend… and he can travel back through time. But it’s not like the movies – nothing changes in the present after his jumps, there’s no space-time continuum issues or broken flux capacitors – it’s just harmless fun.
That is… until the day strangers burst in on Jackson and his girlfriend, Holly, and during a struggle with Jackson, Holly is fatally shot. In his panic, Jackson jumps back two years to 2007, but this is not like his previous time jumps. Now he’s stuck in 2007 and can’t get back to the future.
Desperate to somehow return to 2009 to save Holly but unable to return to his rightful year, Jackson settles into 2007 and learns what he can about his abilities.
But it’s not long before the people who shot Holly in 2009 come looking for Jackson in the past, and these “Enemies of Time” will stop at nothing to recruit this powerful young time-traveler.  Recruit… or kill him.
Piecing together the clues about his father, the Enemies of Time, and himself, Jackson must decide how far he’s willing to go to save Holly… and possibly the entire world.

     Time travel can be a fickle thing to write about. There are so many loop holes, and the audience demands a logical well thought out explanation, or at least something simple enough that it stops me from asking a bajillion questions. The theme these days in dealing with time travel without heavy physics talk is to wrap it in something that is already mysterious and difficult to explain - but when you say it to people they immediately go OOOOH and back off. In this case it just so happens to be genetics, like in The Time Traveller's Wife. But where The Time Traveller's Wife, time travel is straight forward (he can't change events, he moves forward and back, nothing goes with him and he can't control it), Tempest makes it a bit more complicated - which at times proves to be its downfall.

     The cover of Tempest features Jackson and Holly in a pivotal moment of the story, suspended in the air. I do love how dramatic it is, and the feeling of falling and desperation between the two. 
     Tempest revolves around 19 year-old Jackson Meyer, he's living the college dream; rich, parties, a hot girlfriend Holly and a genius best friend Adam. But then the unthinkable happens and in a seemingly random act of violence Holly is shot and killed, forcing Jackson to jump into the past and get stuck there. With some digging, he finds out that his whole life isn't what it seems and that there's a bigger conspiracy present than he could ever imagine. 

     The story is written journal style from Jackson's point of view. Luckily for us he's made a habit of recording the date and time in order to keep his travels straight. We start out getting a bit of a taste for Jackson's limited abilities, he can travel back in time, but he can't affect anything and he leaves his body behind in the present in a comatose-like state, which seems kind of useless... 

     It's not a good sign that after a few pages in I couldn't stand the character of Jackson already. He's got that egotistical attitude that accompanies big money, he hates "feminist type" girls and any attempt Julie makes to try and have a conversation about their relationship he decides the best way to resolve it is with sex and he can't function in normal day to day society or while performing menial tasks (like plunging a toilet). Also for a time traveller, he seems to have the absolute worst memory ever, he couldn't even remember big events in his life - like the time he spent that semester abroad. Who forgets a life experience like that? There's an attempt to make him seem a bit philosophical in his time travelling, like when he ponders a scenario where if he brought a live fish back in time with him if it'd be alive or even exist - but he just doesn't have the basic problem solving skills to consider that the same rule would apply to his clothes or anything he brings back in time with him that was manufactured or grown. 

     We don't know much about present day Holly, but when Jackson goes back in time his first and foremost goal is to quit school and devote his time to stalking his now young (jail-bait) gymnist to-be girlfriend Holly. It's kind of weird, he has this whole moral debate with himself that he can't be with her because he's too old at this exact moment, but on the other hand he already knows what she looks like naked - creepy right? He also didn't seem to know his girlfriend very all, and the whole basis of their relationship was physical. 

      The saving grace character is Adam, Holly and Jackson's best friend and the resident genius. Good thing he's the man with the time travelling proof plan because he's the only one that can click the pieces together and fast to help out Jackson daily. In the present he ends up conducting little time travel experiments with Jackson, and I admire his passion. What I hate was he would "calculate" the time lapses between what Jackson jumps - and what actually passes in reality with a formula he's come up with and it all sounds fascinating. Then he decides not to elaborate because it's too complicated to understand. But this is most likely because we're looking at this from Jackson's point of view and frankly he doesn't give a damn. 

     The whole point of the story is for Jackson to ultimately save his girlfriend, and as soon as she got shot I knew immediately where this story would inevitably end. I knew so quickly that I pondered if there was even a point to reading the whole story, because in a time travelling story where you lose a loved one what's typically the only way you can save them? Think about it for a second, it'll come to you. Yea, you got it, but it takes Jackson over 300 pages to figure it out. 

     There is this whole background conspiracy that involved other time travellers and secret sects of the government all entwined together and deeply rooted into Jackson's life. But the plot gets windy, twisty and clouded. There are some interesting reveals, but some secrets were hinted at pretty early on in the book, and reiterated throughout that when it all finally came out it was pretty anti-climatic. 

Overall: 2/5 Tepid Cups of Tea. 
I disliked Jackson, it's hard to like a story when you hate the main character and he never seems to learn or grow. The plot is pretty cliche and the ending is obvious. A lot of people have pointed out that this is like the movie Jumper and it's pretty much the spitting image of it. The writing style was simple enough to follow, but a bit bland in the execution. I'll give it credit for a decent government conspiracy type story with an awesome best friend. 

Saturday, 25 August 2012

Stacking the Shelves (8)

This week I bought: 

  • Anna Dressed in Blood (Anna, #1) by Kendare Blake <- When I first read this I borrowed it from the library, I figured it was time I got my own copy.
  • Onyx (Lux, #2) by Jennifer L. Armentrout <- Yay the physical copy showed up! 
  • Delirium (Delirium, #1)  by Lauren Oliver <- It was super cheap at Indigo, and I do have the paperback version (that I still haven't read...), so I'll probably be giving the paperback one away sometime in the near future! 

For Review:

  • Eve & Adam by Michael Grant and Katherine Applegate <- e-arc from Netgalley from Macmillan, I've started reading it and it's sooo awesome so far!
  • The Map of the Sky by Felix J. Palma <- The premise of the story is to reproduce the extraterrestrial invasion featured in H.G. Well's War of the Worlds. Thanks to Atria Books! 

So what's new on your shelves this week? Leave a link in the comments for me to stop by!

Friday, 24 August 2012

Review: Larby Lodge by Gail and Paul Gallacher

Larby Lodge (The Sword & The Flame) by Gail and Paul Gallacher

Author: Gail and Paul Gallacher
Publication Date: June 2, 2012
Pages: 280
Genre: YA, Fantasy
Source: eBook provided by the authors for review (Thank You!)
Book Description from Amazon: 
2065 A.D.
It is 48 years since the change.
A time of great chaos and upheaval, 
when millions of teenagers across the globe, developed magical powers.
Still, no-one knows why it happened.
For years a fragile peace has existed.
But now a divide is forming...
And 14 year old Eve Rivers is about to find herself caught up in the middle of the battle.
A battle fought between those who embrace the change, and those who will do 
anything to stop it.
A battle that will forever alter the lives of everyone Eve holds dear.

     In the future something has unexpectedly changed people. On top of the pimply hormonal awkwardness of puberty, teenagers also begin exhibiting a wide variety of abilities like flying, elemental control or telekinesis. It's a joyous time when these teenagers "Awaken" to their powers, that is unless you're a late bloomer like Eve Rivers. 

     Eve, at 14 feels left behind, all her friends have Awoken - even her 12 year old younger sister can fly just like their father, which makes her the apple of her father's eye. But Eve is left with a bitter taste in her mouth, and a worry that her powers may never show up. So she grudgingly shoulders the duty to guard and entertain her precious little sister until her own powers show up - but then in a dark turn of events Eve's whole world turns upside down and tragedy constantly nips at her heels. When Eve finally Awakens amidst a storm of emotional turmoil, suspicions and family tensions, her powers become a tsunami of destruction - which lands her in Larby Lodge. 

     The book's namesake Larby Lodge is a place for troubled teens, particularly ones who have had negative magic related incidents. It's an institution run by Pater's - almost like nuns in a covenant type deal. They generally shun magic, but they will help their students learn control and adaptation. But make no mistake, this is definitely a reform school filled with hard work and even harsher punishments - you don't want to find out what happens to the students that refuse to conform.

     Eve's had to go through a lot in a short amount of time. She goes from a whiny child to a mature young woman out of necessity. But there's times where she can be a bit head strong - and that's where most of her problems come from. She spends a large amount of time flip flopping between being really rational and really childish - so I found it a bit hard to relate to her character. I do really admire her passion though, once she latches onto something she becomes committed to it until the bitter end.

     The character of Swoosie - the high maintenance co-worker of Eve's father turned very close family friend was probably by far the most intriguing one. She had me guessing her intentions at every turn, no matter how much of a villain I tagged her as, she completely surprised me with her actions.  

     There's a large grouping of secondary characters that flit in and out of the story. It was a bit hard to keep track of her friends at Larby Lodge, but her enemies definitely stood out. 

      A bit of romance that's thrown in with one of the Pater boys at Larby Lodge - James. At 16, he is expected to live the life of a Pater and follow their traditions. This whole romance seemed a bit unnecessary and contrived. It all happens quite quickly and then it's forgotten just as quick. Eve admires James, they have a few classes together and then suddenly they're together. I just couldn't realistically wrap my head around it, especially since Eve in my mind is still so young. 

     The style of writing has a very staccato rhythm to it. The sentences are factual and short, which makes some emotional scenes seem wooden. There is a lot of British slang present - and I didn't understand all of it (the episodes of Dr. Who I've seen could only get me so far), it made the book seem like it was tailored to a specific crowd. But there did happen to be a great British accent that was very successfully woven in. 

     While this story is set in the near future it really doesn't feel like much as changed in the world. If anything the world building, especially at Larby Lodge sets me back into an even older world of hard labour farming and kids married at 16. I do wish that we would have gotten some kind of explanation for how the powers came to be. They haven't been present for very long and I was never really sure how the world felt of them. With the hostility given to Awakening teenagers that couldn't control their powers, it was evident that while these powers were celebrated in some circles they were also greatly feared in others. This point becomes the vein of the whole story. 

     Eve stumbles onto some deep dark secrets regarding her family as a threatening mysterious man keeps appearing wherever Eve goes. She struggles to control her powers while she discovers the truth of it all her misfortune. I have to admit my favorite part was all the mysterious circumstances that come together in one big revealing moment at the end. Although I'm still not 100% clear on what the motives were, it was a really elaborate plot that makes Eve vow bloody revenge. 

Overall: 3/5 Cups of Drinkable Tea.
While there are lulls in the story and a few bumps, there were some really spectacularly written moments from tragedy, to Eve's awakening powers that all build up to an incredible secret reveal and a final showdown! 

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Tea Time Thursday: Green Tea: Japanese Sencha

Green Tea: Organic Japanese Sencha
Ingredients: Japanese Green Tea from Shizuoka Prefecture, Japan 

With some research, Japanese Sencha differs from Chinese Green Tea through its processing. In Sencha, the leaves are steamed when still fresh to prevent oxidation, rolled and then heat dried (Wiki).

The DAVIDsTEA version is prepared in this way, upon inspecting the leaves I could see the care that went into rolling and preparing each leaf. When I steeped the tea, the liquid came out a nice golden green color, which evidentially is an indicator of high quality Sencha. 

The tea has a bold floral green vegetation flavour that lingers pleasantly on the palate. I prefer my Sencha plain and hot, it's a perfect refreshing beverage that goes down smooth. 

Overall: This Japanese Sencha is definitely what tea is all about, it's tea in its most basic and flavourful form. Definitely give it a try! 

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Waiting on Wednesday (15): MILA 2.0

Waiting on Wednesday (15):MILA 2.0
Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Breaking The Spine to highlight upcoming eagerly anticipated book releases

MILA 2.0 by Debra Driza
Expected Publication Date: March 12, 2013
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Book Description from Goodreads: 

Pitched as a "Bourne Identity"-type sci-fi thriller about a teenage girl who discovers that she is a Mobile Intel Life-like Android, an experiment in artificial intelligence created by the U.S. government, and her scientist mother, who kidnapped her when she was found to have human emotions.

I love the cover of this one, and a female version of a Bourne Identity thriller? Yes! So excited to find out more about this one. 

What're you waiting on this Wednesday? Link me up in the comments so I can swing by!

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Teaser Tuesday (14): Girl of Nightmares

Teaser Tuesday: Girl of Nightmares (Anna, #2)
Teaser Tuesday is a weekly bookish meme hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
·Grab your current read 
Open to a random page 
Share two (2) "teaser" sentences from somewhere on that page 
Be careful not to include any spoilers so as not to ruin the book for others.

Author: Kendare Blake
Publication Date: August 7, 2012
Pages: 336
Genre: YA, Paranormal, Horror
Description from Goodreads:
It's been months since the ghost of Anna Korlov opened a door to Hell in her basement and disappeared into it, but ghost-hunter Cas Lowood can't move on. 
His friends remind him that Anna sacrificed herself so that Cas could live—not walk around half dead. He knows they're right, but in Cas's eyes, no living girl he meets can compare to the dead girl he fell in love with.
Now he's seeing Anna everywhere: sometimes when he's asleep and sometimes in waking nightmares. But something is very wrong...these aren't just daydreams. Anna seems tortured, torn apart in new and ever more gruesome ways every time she appears.
Cas doesn't know what happened to Anna when she disappeared into Hell, but he knows she doesn't deserve whatever is happening to her now. Anna saved Cas more than once, and it's time for him to return the favor.

      "I glance at Thomas. "You mean you don't see her?" I look back at the window, half expecting her to be gone, half hoping that she's gone, but she's still there, immobile." (page 50). 

I'm so enjoying this book! Thomas, Carmel and Cas are like a little ghost busters team, so awesome! 

What's your teaser this Tuesday? Link me up and I'll be sure to stop by!

Monday, 20 August 2012

Recap: Medieval Feast and Hamlet

Shakespeare on the Saskatchewan presents Hamlet

     This is going to make me sound really old, but kids these days have no appreciation for Shakespeare and his works. I can't blame them though. In my experience (with some fact checking with friends) a lot of students are subjected to learning his works through a grueling monotone hour long verbal read-a-long while sitting in the most uncomfortable desks and the teacher will call on that one unfortunate sleeping student to ask them about iambic pentameters.  

     But I managed to come out of high school with a love and appreciation for Shakespeare's works because I was fortunate enough (for the most part) to have awesome English teachers. They taught his plays the way that they were meant to be appreciated - by acting them out, doing the actions, accents and dressing up in crazy costumes (the best day ever was the one spent wearing sheet toga's around). 

     So after high school I had to get my Shakespeare fix somewhere. Luckily where I live, every summer they erect a massive tent right by the river to play host to two amazing Shakespeare productions every year (usually one is a comedy, the other is a tragedy). After my friend Nicole took me to my first showing, I've been going back every year since. Most recently I've taken to attending the Medieval feast that happens right before a show.  This year featured Hamlet and As You Like It.

      The Medieval Feast
      Every year the menu changes. But what doesn't is the the novelty of eating with nothing but your hands! No utensils - proper mothers everywhere would faint at the thought! It's so much fun though, and it's entertainment in itself. Don't worry, mint water is provided to wash your hands in between courses to keep everything relatively grease free. 

     This year we had a mix of breads with butter (no knives, so you have to fashion a scoop out of the crust of the bread). A new item was an onion beef broth with a biscuit - which was so delicious, I hope they keep it for next year. Then a salad course! I love how they do salad; they use a whole leaf of romaine as the base, and place onion, celery, parsley, cucumber and radishes in it, topped with a raspberry vinaigrette dressing. This is followed by the main course of a whole roasted chicken, slices of roast beef with parsnips, carrots and roasted baby potatoes. 

     Taking apart the chicken is by far the best part. Although the guy down the table from us had his Swiss army knife out and was slicing off slabs with ease for his group - which is absolutely no fun. 

     Dessert consisted of a platter of mixed fruits (berries, watermelon), and this heavy deliciously spiced, raisin laden bread pudding with evaporated milk. I was pretty much full to bursting at this rate. 

      Unfortunately there's no pictures of the awesome meal as I was busy stuffing my face and my hands were super greasy....

     After Dinner Entertainment
     Our local Society of Creative Anachronism puts on the after dinner pre-show entertainment. What they're famous for is showing the types of hand crafted armour, and sword fighting. It always gets the crowd riled up, and yelling for kills! 

     They also lead some willing volunteers in a traditional dance, that ends up getting faster and crazier as the music progresses. 

     The Show
Claudius (Brother to late King Hamlet, now the new King) played by: Robert Benz
Hamlet (son of late King Hamlet, nephew of Claudius) played by: Greg Ochitwa
Gertrude (The Queen and mother of Hamlet) played by: Cheryl Jack
Ophelia (love interest of Hamlet) played by: Jamie Lee Shebelski
Full Cast HERE

     The directors have their own take on the play and what kind of setting to use. Sometimes they will use a more traditional set if it enhances the play such as the ancient Rome time period that was maintained for Antony and Cleopatra a few years ago. But for Hamlet they took on a more 1950's greaser gang feel to the characters and costume (but after finding out As You Like It was Steam Punk themed, I regret not going to that one). They stick fairly true to the script - and the language can be at times hard to decipher - but a combination of props, the excellent actors in their expressions and actions, the story becomes crystal clear.

     If you don't know the story of Hamlet, I'll try and keep this as spoiler free as possible. 
     Elder King Hamlet of Denmark has passed away, and his wife Queen Gertrude has remarried his brother Claudius. Hamlet distraught by his father's death and his mother's seemingly quick marriage - is haunted by his father's ghost who reveals secrets to Hamlet which sends Hamlet into a downward spiral of insanity fueled by vengeance. His erratic behavior doesn't escape the notice of his family. Tensions rise as accusations fly and it all boils down to a climatic bloody confrontation. 
     Making his debut Greg Ochitwa was given a huge responsibility as the lead Hamlet and he did an excellent job! Perfectly brooding in the beginning, but his descent into madness was what really blew me away. There were times where I was questioning with the rest of the cast if he really was insane with his jittery motions, wild mood swings, and voice rising in anger and falling in contemplation at just the right moments. He's an excellent addition to the troupe, and I hope he decides to keep at it! 
     The rest of the cast did an excellent job from concerned but conniving parents Claudius and Gertrude, to supposed friends Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. But Jamie who plays Ophelia - during her distraught stage brought on by unfortunate events - everything from her bloodied and ruined costume to the hollow far away tone in her voice was haunting and stays with me to this day. 
      Overall it's an amazing display as usual, and amazing work on all these actors parts, I can't wait to see what next year will bring!

Saturday, 18 August 2012

Stacking the Shelves (7): Back to School Edition

Hosted by Tynga
It's the Back to School Edition of Stacking the Shelves! I say this because these arrived in the mail this week: 

My textbooks for the first half of my last year of University! I won't bore you anymore with the details. 

These awesome books came from Atria Books week for review:
  • Advent by James Treadwell
  • Between You and Me by Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus

I spent the better part of the past week and a half trying to find Girl of Nightmares to no avail. It wasn't until a super helpful Indigo employee who looked in the stock in the back and found one yesterday, that I finally got my copy! But in my search through several different bookstores, I ended up coming across a lot of books on sale like the Halo, and Leviathan series. 

  • Halo (Halo, #1) by Alexandra Adornetto
  • Hades (Halo, #2) by Alexandra Adornetto
  • Leviathan (Leviathan, #1) by Scott Westerfield
  • Behemoth (Leviathan, #2) by Scott Westerfield
  • Girl of Nightmares (Anna, #2) by Kendare Blake <- I've started this one and it's so awesome so far!
  • For Darkness Shows the Stars by Dana Peterfreund
  • Onyx (Lux, #2) by Jennifer Armentrout (eBook) <- I've finished this one already and it was amazing!!! Review to come. 

One last thing, you know what day it is?! It's The Hunger Games DVD release day!!! 
This is what I plan to spend my day doing today! Special features and all!

So what's new on your shelves this week? Leave me a link and I'll be sure to stop by!

Friday, 17 August 2012

Movie Review: Total Recall (2012)

New Vs Old: Total Recall 

Released: August 3, 2012
Len Wiseman
Kurt Wimmer, Mark Bomback

Colin Farrell as Douglas Quaid/Hauser
Kate Beckinsale as Lori
Jessica Biel as Melina
Bryan Cranston as Cohaagen
Bill Nighy as Matthias

     In the near future man kind destroys itself in a chemical war, leaving the only survivors to form two factions - each with very limited space and resources: The United Federation of Britain (UFB, located of course in Great Britain) and The Colony (located in Australia). The poor working class of The Colony travel to the UFB via "The Fall" an elevator through the Earth's core in order to work. There's tension between the two factions, elevated by terrorist attacks by The Resistance.
     Enter Douglas Quaid, a simple factory worker from The Colony - or so he thought. Quaid begins having violent vivid nightmares and decides that the solution is to go to Rekall - a business that specializes in implanting fake but generally pleasurable memories. But during his visit to Rekall, the implant doesn't go as expected and soon Quaid's dreams become a reality as he races to figure out what's real and what isn't.

      I went into this movie with zero idea about the original. I mean the original came out in 1990 - I was just a wee baby still, I can't be held accountable for having not seen it. That being said - after seeing the new version I felt that I should go back and see the old one before making this review.
      So I sat through Total Recall (1990), through Arnold Schwarzenegger's cheesy lines, the corny special effects (eye balls popping out during depressurization should not take that long!) and the clothes (*shudder*). I've been spoiled by high definition and whole movies generated with precision by computers. So going back and watching this was a little bit painful for me. 
      While Total Recall (2012) was a remake, it has become its own movie while taking its essence from the original. It kept the basic idea that Quaid was having nightmares that ultimately lead to him discovering some shocking secrets about his life and his memories, the basic path of discovering the truth and ultimately the decision he has to make; as well as staying true to the characters of Melina, Lori and Cohaagen. But where it differs greatly is in the main plot. In the original the whole plot centers around a colony on Mars, they've taken that completely out of the picture and replaced it with a story based more heavily on the tension between the two factions, stripped some unnecessary characters, updated all the technology of this futuristic world and changed Cohaagen's motives. 
      The end result: we get an action packed adventure full of intense chases, fights, drool worthy gadgets and plot twists that will make you wonder how real your memories are. 
      While writing this review, when I looked up the director (Len Wiseman) - he seemed familiar. Then I realized he directed all the Underworld movies. Which is probably why I felt like I was having deja vu when Kate Beckinsale and Bill Nighy both showed up. True to Wiseman's style, the movie is visually stunning, plot wise - it's not going to win any Oscars but you will be entertained, which is the purpose of movies isn't it? 
      Colin Farrell in this role was pretty standard for him, I mean he delivers his sullen lines, gets confused and then goes through some really kick ass action sequences - it doesn't exactly take a master actor to get through this story. So while the acting is pretty "eh" he makes up for it in the fights, like when he takes down a whole group of soldiers all by his lonesome.
      In the original Total Recall, the role of the wife Lori was much more minimized. While she still had deadly skills, she was pushed to the back burner while her male counterpart, Richter, took over. In this new version, they cut Richter and made Lori both the wife and right hand woman for Cohaagen, which was much more effective. Looking at the two movies now, I realize that Richter was pretty useless when there's an equally effective female version. Kate Beckinsale as Lori, was awesome though! She's still stuck in her usual action roles, but she managed to play the innocent adoring wife and then she slips into this really terrifying "she's got a crazy look in her eye" action character. What utterly pisses me off though is how these people do action shots with long hair, it's impossible, I can barely walk without my hair getting in my face let alone run, jump and shoot at the same time at mach speed. 
      Jessica Biel did earn some brownie points as Melina, she tied her hair back, but then it magically starts flowing in the wind partway through. Biel did an awesome job as a tough resistance member, who could hold her own, but also as this affectionate love interest of Quaid's. Plus, with Kate, they provided probably one of the most epic cat fights ever.
      Bryan Cranston as Cohaagen was kind of a bust to me. He will always be Hal from Malcolm in the Middle, and as a result I don't think I'll ever be able to take him seriously. I just wanted to giggle every time he shouted an order. 
      I'm really glad this remake managed to keep the suspense of the original where you wonder which life of Quaid's is the real one - there's some really heart stopping and tense moments that had me questioning whether he was a good guy or a bad guy. This movie is also much less grotesque mutants, and more slums of Asia (because in every futuristic imagining apparently Asian culture is the sole survivor of a global annihilation). They also managed to drop some nods at the original, like the three breasted woman. But it seems the directors just wanted to flood this movie with familiar faces and that ended up dropping the ball a bit. As soon as I saw John Cho - bleached blond, and like Cranston, I could only think of Cho has Harold (from Harold and Kumar), which resulted in more giggling. 

Overall: 4/5 Hot Cups of Tea!
 While the older Total Recall is a "classic", I just can't get past the cheesiness. I ended up preferring the new to the old. I really enjoyed it, mainly because once in a while I enjoy a mindless action movie. This version definitely had a clearer and more hashed out plot than the original. I loved all the gadgets, there were some really cool car chases, fist fights and "The Fall" was pretty spectacular. All in all, you'll be entertained as long as you go into this for the action and not expecting an award winning - break your heart kind of story.  

Thursday, 16 August 2012

Tea Time Thursday: Rooibos Tea: Mint Chocolate Rooibos

Rooibos Tea: Mint Chocolate Rooibos

Ingredients: South African rooibos, peppermint, chocolate bits, vanilla, chocolate mint flavouring.

    This tea was strangely familiar, because it tastes pretty much exactly like Read My Lips with its minty chocolatey-ness. Except the rooibos tea makes it sweeter, softer and lets the mint through a bit more. It also doesn't form as complex of a taste with the bitterness of black tea and the spice from the peppercorns. But I was kind of disappointed in the repetition in flavour, and if it has to come down between the two types of mint chocolate tea Read My Lips was way better. Although it is a good alternative if you're looking for something without caffeine. 

Overall: 3/5 Drinkable Cups of Tea.
It's okay, but I felt like I've been here already. But it's a great after dinner without the caffeine buzz before bed kind of tea. 

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Waiting on Wenesday (14): Defiance

Waiting on Wednesday (14):Defiance (Defiance, #1)
Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Breaking The Spine to highlight upcoming eagerly anticipated book releases

Defiance (Defiance, #1)) by C. J. Redwine
Expected Publication Date: August 28, 2012
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Book Description from Goodreads: 

Within the walls of Baalboden, beneath the shadow of the city’s brutal leader, Rachel Adams has a secret. While other girls sew dresses, host dinner parties, and obey their male Protectors, Rachel knows how to survive in the wilderness and deftly wield a sword. When her father, Jared, fails to return from a courier mission and is declared dead, the Commander assigns Rachel a new Protector, her father’s apprentice, Logan—the same boy Rachel declared her love for two years ago, and the same boy who handed her heart right back to her. Left with nothing but fierce belief in her father’s survival, Rachel decides to escape and find him herself. But treason against the Commander carries a heavy price, and what awaits her in the Wasteland could destroy her.
At nineteen, Logan McEntire is many things. Orphan. Outcast. Inventor. As apprentice to the city’s top courier, Logan is focused on learning his trade so he can escape the tyranny of Baalboden. But his plan never included being responsible for his mentor’s impulsive daughter. Logan is determined to protect her, but when his escape plan goes wrong and Rachel pays the price, he realizes he has more at stake than disappointing Jared.
As Rachel and Logan battle their way through the Wasteland, stalked by a monster that can’t be killed and an army of assassins out for blood, they discover romance, heartbreak, and a truth that will incite a war decades in the making.

I love books that I don't have to wait very long for ! But this sounds like it's going to be an epic adventure, and I can't wait to get my hands on it.

What're you waiting for this week? Link me in the comments and I'll be sure to stop by! 

Also, enter to win the first two books in The Telepathic Clans series HERE 
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