I will be moving to Wordpress.com on October 1! My new URL will be exploringbystarlight.wordpress.com.

Stacking the Shelves (5)

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews, in which I showcase books that I have bought this week. 

This week I bought:
 

Obsidian by Jennifer L. Armentrout
Onyx by Jennifer L. Armentrout
Sweet Evil by Wendy Higgins

I didn't buy much this week since I've had things to read for college and there are a ton of books that I need to read in my room. I also didn't get anything out of the library! But, anyway, I've been wanting to read the Lux books for quite a while and I also got Sweet Evil to participate in the read-along which starts next week!

What did you get this week? Leave me a link and I'll make sure to pop by!

Follow Friday (13)


Q: What is the BIGGEST word you’ve seen used in a book lately – that made you stop and look it up? Might as well leave the definition and book too.

Most of the big words that I've came across in a book were in Dracula, but the most recent one was phosphorescent, which I came across in The Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter. It means to radiate light without burning. I think.

Happy Friday!

Review: Dracula (1931)

Dracula
Directed by: Tod Browning
Starring: Béla Lugosi, Helen Chandler and David Manners.
Based on: the novel of the same name by Bram Stoker.
Genre: Horror
Released: February 12 1931
by Universal Pictures
Running time: 71 mins (1 hr, 11 mins)
Cert: PG
Rating: ★★★★

IMDb | View Trailer
After a harrowing ride through the Carpathian Mountains in Eastern Europe, Renfield enters Castle Dracula to finalise the transferal of Carfax Abbey in London to Count Dracula, who is in actuality a vampire. Renfield is drugged by the eerily hypnotic count, and turned into one of his thralls, protecting him during his sea voyage to London. After sucking the blood and turning the young Lucy Weston into a vampire, Dracula turns his attention to her friend Mina Seward, daughter of Dr. Seward who then calls in a specialist, Professor Van Helsing, to diagnose the sudden deterioration of Mina's health. Van Helsing, realising that Dracula is indeed a vampire, tries to prepare Mina's fiance, John Harker, and Dr. Seward for what is to come and the measures that will have to be taken to prevent Mina from becoming one of the undead.
Feel free to laugh at me because this is the first horror film that I have ever seen. I'm being serious. I've never been a fan of horror films ever since I saw Michael Jackson's Thriller for the first time when I was six. I just don't like being scared, I don't think it's a nice feeling. Even though I'm a scaredy-cat, my brother got me a box set of classic Universal monster films for my birthday and I figured that they won't be too scary since they're so old. I have read Dracula before, and I absolutely love it. The book is my all-time favourite vampire book, even though it did take me about a year to finish. Oops...
While this film version of Dracula does stay relatively faithful to the book, there are a few changed to the story, mainly to the characters. Here are a few of them:
  • Renfield is the one who goes to Transylvania to give Dracula the lease to Carfax Abbey, rather than Jonathan Harker (whose name has been shortened to simply John and given a smaller role).
  • Mina Murray's name has been changed to Mina Seward as she is now Dr. Seward's daughter.
  • Dr. Seward is no longer a suitor to Lucy, whose name has been changed from Westenra to Weston.
  • Quincy Morris and Arthur Holmwood (Lord Godalming) do not appear in the film.

These aren't particularly major changes and they didn't make a huge impact on the film or my enjoyment but I would have preferred if the characters were not changed and certain characters were included. But then again, the film would have been quite long and incredibly long films were quite a rarity in the early 1930s (to my knowledge). Other than those changes, the basic plot of Dracula is essentially the same but a bit more condensed for those who probably can't sit for hours on end.

Although it is incredibly OTT by today's standards, I couldn't help but like Béla Lugosi's performance as the titular Count. Because Lugosi was Hungarian, like the Count himself, he brought a foreign mystery to the character that seems incredibly fitting and also his deliberate slow manner of speech made the Count seem more like a walking, talking corpse, which is essentially what a vampire is. He's definitely not the best Dracula, but he's the most memorable and the one whose portrayal has been imprinted in everyone's minds since just about forever.

There aren't much to the sets, especially those of Dracula's castle and Carfax Abbey (he does sleep in a box of Transylvanian dirt, after all) but it works incredibly well because they give the appearance of being incredibly ancient and basically crumbling to pieces, which is exactly how I always imagined Dracula's castle to look. There is an interesting piece of recycled film during the scene in which Dracula and Renfield stow away on the Vesta (the Demeter in the book), which is why the movements look incredibly jerky in shots of the ship being steered through a storm.

There is hardly any music in Dracula; the only songs in the film are Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg (in the theatre scene) and part of Act II of Swan Lake. That's pretty much it and the rest of the scenes have no music at all. I actually know why and it's because audiences in the early days of talking pictures were not used to hearing music in a film without there being a reason for it to be there. It actually works to the film's advantage especially in scenes were Dracula is manipulating people because it gives an eerie edge that music would usually be needed for.

Would I say that this version of Dracula is scary? Not at all, which is probably why I enjoyed it. Like I said, I don't like being scared and my first venture into the world of horror films allowed me to keep my fingernails and my knuckles stayed their natural colour. Lugosi's somewhat suave portrayal of the Count was kind of reassuring, despite its theatricality. But there is still an unnerving atmosphere to the film, especially in the close-ups of the Count mentally manipulating his latest victim. If you're wanting to be scared out of your skin, this probably isn't the film for you, but I would definitely recommend Dracula to fans of the book and fans of classic horror films.

100 Followers!

Oh. My. God. You guys, I just couldn't believe my eyes when I saw this the other day:

(It's gone up a little bit since Friday, but still, I was really happy)
I pretty much did this when I saw it:

I really want to thank all of you for following my blog and putting up with my incredibly sporadic posting :)

Review: Fallen by Lauren Kate

Fallen
Lauren Kate
Series: Fallen #1
Genre: YA Paranormal Romance
Released: January 1 2009
by Doubleday
Source: Borrowed from library
Rating: ★

Add to Goodreads | Purchase online
There’s something achingly familiar about Daniel Grigori.

Mysterious and aloof, he captures Luce Price’s attention from the moment she sees him on her first day at the Sword & Cross boarding school in sultry Savannah. He’s the one bright spot in a place where cell phones are forbidden, the other students are all screw-ups, and security cameras watch every move.

Even Daniel wants nothing to do with Luce – he goes out of his way to make that very clear. But she can’t let it go. Drawn to him like a moth to a flame, Luce has to find out what Daniel is so desperate to keep secret...even if it kills her.
I picked up Fallen because of it's pretty cover. It looks really Gothic and I like Gothic fiction. When I took out the book from the library, I really had no idea of what it is that I was going to read. The blurb is home to probably the most vague summary that I have ever read. It barely says what the book is about so I was pretty blind going into reading the book hoping that I wouldn't be disappointed. Unfortunately, I was.

Honestly, the plot is what made Fallen a disappointment for me. It's one of those books where absolutely nothing happens until the end. All filler, no killer. If this book was shorter, I wouldn't have minded the main part of the part being near the end because it would kind of build up but, seriously, nothing happens until chapter sixteen. That's really far into the book!

I could not get into the characters at all. Luce left me feeling a little cold towards her, and she was a complete moron. I promised myself I wouldn't say this but she reminded me of Bella Swan. There, I said it! She knows for a fact that being with Daniel is dangerous, but she pays absolutely no attention to that fact. Does this chick have a brain?

Daniel, was an absolute jerk. I get the fact that being with him is potentially dangerous for Luce, but that is no excuse to be rude to her. I didn't find him worthy of my swoons or my feels, he's the kind of guy that I would want to punch in the face for being such a jerk.

Cam reminded me of a guy that I personally know. And not in the "awe, hey he reminds me of that guy" kind of way, more of the "HOLY CRAP IT'S HIM, GET AWAY!" kind of reminded. Seriously, he is such a creepy guy, he nearly freaked me out. Kill it with fire!

I honestly don't see how the reform school was relevant. Or why Luce was even there in the first place. Even if the book took place in a regular school, it wouldn't have made that much of a difference. The characters would have stayed the same and the events would have more or less stayed the same too.

The mini-review from P.C. Cast reads "Sexy, fascinating and scary". Sexy? I didn't think so. Fascinating? Not a chance. Scary? Definitely not. I almost glided through Fallen but that doesn't mean that it was a good read.

Follow Friday (12)

Feature & Follow Friday is a weekly blog hop hosted by Parajunkee's View and Alison Can Read.

Q: What hyped up book do you think was worth all the talk?

The Hunger Games! It was awesome!

Happy Friday!

Review: White Heat (1949)

White Heat
Directed by: Raoul Walsh
Starring: James Cagney, Virginia Mayo and Edmond O'Brien
Genre: Noir / Crime
Released: September 2 1949
by Warner Bros. Pictures
Running time: 114 minutes (1 hr, 54 mins)
Cert: 15 (BBFC) NR (MPAA)
Rating: ★★★★
IMDb | View Trailer
After killing two men in a train robbery, Cody Jarrett pleads guilty to a far less series crime that occurred at the same time, but in a distant location, thereby giving him a perfect alibi. The Treasury Department decides to plant one of their officers, Hank Fallon, in the prison to see if they can learn where Jarrett hid the Treasury Bonds he stole. Jarrett and Fallon become good friends and when Jarrett makes a break for it, Fallon goes with him. Jarrett's next robbery involved stealing the nearly half-million dollar payroll from a chemical factory, but using modern technology, the Feds are the able to track him down and bring his robbery and killing spree to an end.
I have a huge love of gangster films and I found it quite shocking that I hadn't seen a single James Cagney film until now. Dude was pretty much the quintessential tough guy back in the day and is still considered to be Hollywood's Greatest Tough Guy.

For me, the plot of White Heat had its ups and downs. The concept and the story itself is really good, but it felt a bit too drawn out in places for me. Now, I wasn't expecting the film to be all action all the way through but I would have liked just a little bit more. Most of the action appeared toward the end of the film where the tensions are at their highest. I hate to say it but there were some points where I had to force myself

James Cagney's performance as Cody Jarrett blew me away. Seriously, I'd never seen any performance such as that. I thought that the character of Cody Jarrett was fascinating, as quite a lot of psychotic characters are. But what made Jarrett different is that we're not supposed to feel sorry for him or relate with him in any way, shape or form. He's a character that the audience is supposed to absolutely loathe. His mother complex makes him look almost infantile in a way and while I'm quite sure that a lot of us love our mothers, his obsession with his mother is just dangerous. The way that Cagney portrayed Jarrett's psychotic nature was done absolutely perfectly.

Although I didn't pay much attention to the music of White Heat, what I did pay attention to was fantastic. I loved how it was typically noir, dramatic and completely fitted to the scenes that music was featured in. I also loved how the context of the scene matched the music that was heard; there's nothing that irritates me more in a film than when music is used inappropriately. Thankfully, it was used properly here.

I really hate to say it because this film is so good but the only thing that stopped White Heat from getting 5 Ray Guns was the way in which the story was dragged out. As they sort of say where I'm from: less talk, mare action (no, that isn't a typo)! But other than that, the rest of the film was awesome. I'll definitely be watching more of Cagney's films in the future!

Review: Hunting Lila by Sarah Alderson

Hunting Lila
Sarah Alderson
Series: Lila #1
Genre: YA Paranormal
Released: August 4 2011
by Simon & Schuster
Source: Purchased
Rating: ★★★★★+

Add to Goodreads | Purchase online
Lila has two secrets she's prepared to take to the grave. The first is that she can move things just by looking at them. The second is that she's been in love with her brother's best friends, Alex, since forever.

After a mugging exposes her unique ability, Lila decides to run to the only person she can trust - her brother and Alex. They live in Southern California where they work for a secret organisation called The Unit, and Lila discovers that the two of them are hunting down the men who murdered her mother five years before. And that they've found them. In a world where nothing and no one is quite as they seem, Lila quickly realises that she is not alone - there are others with special powers out there - and her mother's killer is one of them...
I first saw Hunting Lila a while back on one of my favourite blogs and the cover instantly drew me into wanting to read it.  I love the use of colours and how the light contrasts with the dark, it just looks so mysterious and intriguing! Then there’s the summary: a girl with a secret psychic power? I’m instantly sold. I’d read a few reviews and from them I knew that I wouldn’t be disappointed. And I really wasn’t.

Hunting Lila has an absolutely superb plot. I loved every single word of the book and simply could not stop reading this book. I even took it to college with me and got told to put it away several times. Yeah, I was that addicted to this book. I really loved how the story was paced, there was an equal amount of steady and fast paced moments and the end really had me hooked and pretty much gripping the edges of the book with all the bombs that are being dropped and the secrets that are being revealed.

The characters of Hunting Lila are incredibly memorable and likeable, especially Lila. I loved her voice and her entire character from her first words of the narrative. Despite the fact that she is telekinetic, I liked how she felt like quite a real and genuine person and she really jumped out at me. I also found her gigantic crush on her brother’s best friend, Alex, to be the cutest thing ever. The way that she reacts even to his presence was just adorable and I don’t really blame her, I really liked Alex too. Dude is too perfect!

I loved both the paranormal side and the romance side of Hunting Lila. I’m not big on romance but I found the romance of the book to be so unbelievably cute that I ended up wanting a guy just like Alex. I just couldn’t resist him! I also loved the concept of people with a gene that gives them a psychic ability; it sounds so cool. And then there’s the mysteries which were quite fun. I did have a go at solving them myself but I wasn’t able to and was actually quite shocked when they were revealed.

For me, reading the book from Lila’s POV made the book incredibly enjoyable. I don’t think there could be a better character to narrate the book than Lila because her voice really jumped out of the pages and I loved hearing things from her point of view.

I loved absolutely everything about this book and Hunting Lila is definitely an instant favourite for me. I loved the characters, I loved the romance, I loved the plot… I loved EVERYTHING! I really need to get my mits on Losing Lila ASAP which I really, really, really hope is as amazing as Hunting Lila was. This book was so awesome and deserved more than five stars that I made a new rating!

Follow Friday (11)

Feature & Follow Friday is a weekly blog hop hosted by Parajunkee's View and Alison Can Read.

Q: What hyped up book do you think was not worth all the talk?


I didn't find Matched to be all that great. I'm still going to read the rest of the series, but my expectations aren't really too great.

Happy Friday!

Stacking the Shelves (4)

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews, featuring books added to your shelves and sharing your excitement for them.

Wow. How long has it been since I last did one of these? About two months. I really need to start buying books more often.

This week I bought:
 

Wake by Amanda Hocking
Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake
Hunting Lila by Sarah Alderson
Revived by Cat Patrick

Borrowed from the library:

Fallen by Lauren Kate


I've sort of made a decision to read more YA books, since I haven't seen many adult books that have interested me in quite some time.

I had a bit of cover lust when I picked up these books since they've all got super awesome covers! I also look at the spines of books when I'm browsing and my weird logic tells me that if the book has a pretty spine, the cover will be pretty too. Weird, right?

I think I'm most excited to read Revived because I loved Cat Patrick's debut book, Forgotten, which was just amazing. I was fretting over getting it in time and nearly came to a conclusion of the postman not liking me. But, I did get it in time and I also ordered this cute Little Miss Giggles bookmark:

Please ignore the half-written review
on the paper.
I bought it because I thought that I'd lost Bertie (my teddy bear bookmark) but I found him stuck down the side of my bed -_- Oh well!

What did you get this week? Leave me a link!

Follow Friday (10)

Feature & Follow Friday is a weekly blog hop hosted by Parajunkee's View and Alison Can Read.

Q: What book(s) are you reading right now? What do you think of it?


I've just started reading Mockingjay and it's taken me a while to get back into the feel of the series. But, so far so good!

Happy Friday!

Review: Cleopatra (1963)

Cleopatra
Directed by: Joseph L. Mankiewicz
Starring: Elizabeth Taylor, Rex Harrison and Richard Burton
Genre: Historical Epic / Biopic
Released: July 31 1963
by 20th Century Fox
Running time: 248 mins (4 hr, 8 mins)
Cert: PG
Rating: ★★★

IMDb | View Trailer
Epic saga of the legendary Queen's reign from the time Julius Caesar arrived in Egypt until her death some 18 years later. Cleopatra is portrayed as a schemer, firstly to gain control over the Egyptian kingdom from her brother with whom she ruled jointly. Having gained the confidence of Caesar, they become lovers and she bears him the son he never had. Her attempts at ensuring that they boy takes his rightful place in Rome are thwarted when Caesar is assassinated and she flees back to Egypt. Many years later Marc Antony, now responsible for the eastern half of the Roman Empire, seeks and alliance with Egypt. He and Cleopatra become lovers and form a military alliance but are forced to retreat after losing a major naval encounter at Actium. Both eventually take their own lives.
I picked up Cleopatra from the supermarket without realising that it's on two discs. With DVDs, that is one of my biggest pet peeves. A single film that is so long it is on multiple discs. I'm quite lazy and I like my films to flow smoothly one disc, because I'm far too lazy to get up and change the disc. But that aside, I've been meaning to see the film for quite a long time now after hearing of its infamous status as “the most expensive film ever made” and I’m also quite a fan of Elizabeth Taylor.

The only problem that I have with Cleopatra is actually an incredibly huge one that has affected my entire view of the film. The film’s title is Cleopatra but very little focus is placed on Cleopatra herself. This does work in some cases, such as The Godfather (who is hospitalised for the majority of the film) and even in the novel Dracula (who is very rarely seen but is definitely heard from) but in a four-hour film such as this? Yeah, not really working. Because there is an intermission halfway through the film, I somewhat split it into two halves. The first half focuses a hell of a lot on Julius Caesar’s desire to have more control over Rome and a son. Oh, and he marries Cleopatra, they have a baby and he gets killed. The second part focuses on Marc Antony’s brief time in power only for Octavian (who really needs to be slapped) to succeed him and declare war on Antony. He also has a thing with Cleopatra. Complete focus doesn’t come on to the queen herself until the very end, which is where she dies. Focus fail.

Cleopatra’s cast is definitely its strongest element. I’m surprised that only Rex Harrison was nominated for an Academy Award because the entire main cast gave wonderful performances. Despite her character not being the complete focus of the film, I loved Elizabeth Taylor’s performance as Cleopatra. She had the look of a temptress about her and just dripped with sex appeal. Well, she didn’t when she was seducing Caesar.  Telling a man that your boobs are full of love and life is just a bit odd to me.

The sets of Cleopatra are absolutely stunning. Apart from the odd primitive green screen fail here and there the film looks like it was shot while ancient Rome and ancient Egypt were still intact. It isn’t hard to tell where certain scenes in the film take place as the sets are a dead giveaway. The Rome scenes have a lot of red in them and, of course, the signature pillars, whereas the Egypt scenes have a lot of gold in them and wall illustrations in which people look like they are dancing to The Bangles (you know which song I mean).

The score of Cleopatra is very much a mix of the majesty of the Romans and the exotic mysticism of the Egyptians. I thought that it fitted with the film very well but I do have a bit of a bone to pick. On my DVD copy, there is two minutes of music before the good ol’ 20th Century Fox logo appears. Why? It does exactly the same thing at the very end of the film but I got sick of it at that point and just turned it off.

I’m very much in the middle of the road with this film. The cast, costumes and sets are spectacular but the film doesn’t focus on Cleopatra herself until two minutes before “The End” appears. If I’d made the film, I would have split it into two parts: the first would be called “Julius Caesar” (no relation to the Shakespeare play) and the second would be called “Marc Antony”. I also would have focused more on Cleopatra herself, rather than her lovers because the film is named after her!

Review: Glass Houses by Rachel Caine

Glass Houses
Rachel Caine
Series: The Morganville Vampires #1
Genre: YA Paranormal
Released: October 2006
by Allison & Busby
Source: Purchased
Rating: ★★★★

Add to Goodreads | Purchase online
Welcome to Morganville.
Just don't stay out after dark.

Morganville is a small town filled with unusual characters - when the sun goes down, the bad comes out. In Morganville, there is an evil that lurks in the darkest shadows - one that will spill out into the bright light of day.

For Claire Danvers, high school was hell, but college may be murder. It was bad enough that she got on the wrong side of Monica, the meanest of the school's mean girls, but now she's got three new roommates, who all have secrets of their own. And the biggest secret of all isn't really a secret, except from Claire: Morganville is run by vampires, and they are hungry for fresh blood.
I haven't been into vampires for quite some time now since I think they've been somewhat done to death. I'm not sure why but vampires became a little bit gimmicky for me and that is not a good thing. However, for months and months the Morganville series has been screaming out to me. It think it's probably because of the shiny bits on the covers and the fact that every branch of The Works that I go into has the entire series on their 3 for £5 deal. I'm cheap and love bargains, so naturally I went for it!

While I did enjoy the book's plot, I found it quite hard to get through at times and there were also a couple of times where something was mentioned and I didn't remember it happening. Either I don't have a good memory or there were some plot holes. It's more than likely going to be both. However, the premise is a nice change to what I've been reading lately and the more exciting moments of the story were those kinds of "HOLY CRAP" exciting moments that I love. The more exciting moments appear near the end of the book and the book's end was so abrupt it kept me hanging on until I realised that that was in fact the end of the book.

I liked the majority of Glass Houses' characters but Claire just rubbed me the wrong way. For a girl who is incredibly smart she seems to be lacking in something important: common sense. If your roommates tell you to not go out at night because you'll be attacked by vampires, don't go out! While Claire may have incredibly academic smarts her Morganville smarts appear to be not as incredible. My opinion of Claire changed as the book progressed. At first I felt sorry for her, then slightly irritated by her crying and slight immaturity and then kind of liking her as she became braver at a very slow pace.

Surprisingly, I actually liked the vampires in this book. They were done in a very different way than I've seen before and the whole "Protection" concept was very interesting to me. It seemed a lot more like something that vampires would do and even reminded me of True Blood, since the vampires are not hiding away in secret and everyone in town knows about them.

It didn't feel like Morganville was explored enough to me. Really, there were only three main locations that were explored in detail: the university, Glass House and Common Grounds where Claire's roommate Eve works. Other places were not seen in great detail or were only described in passing. I would like to see more of Morganville as the series progresses.

I found Glass Houses to be quite a light read, although I did struggle to get through chapters are some points in the book, especially at chapters that were about thirty pages long. I liked the majority of the characters and I felt that the vampires were given a very unique treatment to what I've read before. I think I'll definitely be delving further into the series.