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

DNF Review: Glow by Amy Kathleen Ryan

Amy Kathleen Ryan
Series: Sky Chasers #1
Genre: YA Science Fiction / Romance
Released: October 2011
by Macmillan
Source: Purchased
Rating: DNF

Add to Goodreads | Purchase online
What if you were bound for a new world, about to pledge your life to someone you'd been promised to since birth, and one unexpected violent attack made survival—not love—the issue?

Out in the murky nebula lurks an unseen enemy: the New Horizon. On its way to populate a distant planet in the wake of Earth's collapse, the ship's crew has been unable to conceive a generation to continue its mission. They need young girls desperately, or their zealous leader's efforts will fail. Onboard their sister ship, the Empyrean, the unsuspecting families don't know an attack is being mounted that could claim the most important among them...

Fifteen-year-old Waverly is part of the first generation to be successfully conceived in deep space; she was born on the Empyrean, and the large farming vessel is all she knows. Her concerns are those of any teenager—until Kieran Alden proposes to her. The handsome captain-to-be has everything Waverly could ever want in a husband, and with the pressure to start having children, everyone is sure he's the best choice. Except for Waverly, who wants more from life than marriage—and is secretly intrigued by the shy, darkly brilliant Seth.

But when the Empyrean faces sudden attack by their assumed allies, they quickly find out that the enemies aren't all from the outside.

Glow is one of those book that I put on my to-read list based only on the cover and not what the book was about. So when I bought the book while on holiday, I was a little surprised to read that the book was a romance book. But that aside, I bought the book hoping to not be disappointed. Boy, was I disappointed.

I only got through half of the book before giving up from boredom and getting lost in the midst of numerous characters that I presume have absolutely nothing to do with the plot. What I did read I found to be just too slow for my liking. Apart from the New Horizon attacking the Empyrean and kidnapping all of the girls, very little interesting happened. Most of what I read was comprised of Waverly and the other girls being shown around the New Horizon and becoming accustomed with the religious ways of the ship's inhabitants and Kieran and the boys finding out a way to fix the Empyrean. Other than that, practically nothing happened. Hopefully something happens somewhere in the book, but that probably would have marked the book down if I had the patience and finished it.

I didn't find the characters of Glow to be likable at all. I have probably never come across such flat and bland characters in a book. To me, Waverly was extremely prejudiced towards the people on the New Horizon, just because they're religious. And on top of that, her decision making was terrible. I was waiting for her to be an awesome ass-kicking heroine but that never happened. Some heroine. Kieran wasn't prejudiced but he wasn't much better, he also was bad at making decisions and appeared to be motivated by some one-sided argument. Good grief...

One of the things that really bugged me about this book is the religious tones. The ship New Horizon is described as being full of hardcore religious types and it is implied that they are evil and their faith is possibly the reason why. I realise that there are people who dislike people who are of faith, but the religious people in Glow were pretty much stereotypes. A ship full of multiple Ned Flanders. I just couldn't take any more of that.

Glow is told from the view of both Waverly and Kieran and, to be honest, I found neither of them to be interesting or engaging. I found the writing style to be drawn out and added to the boring plot, which had already made my eyes feel heavy every time I looked at the page.

I got about half of the way through Glow before setting it aside forever. Everytime I picked it up, I'd read about two or three pages and then put it down again. I was hoping for a great story about love among the stars and I didn't get that. Unfortunately, this book gets a big fat DNF from me.

Review: Ed Wood (1994)

Ed Wood
Directed by: Tim Burton
Starring: Johnny Depp, Martin Landau and  Sarah Jessica Parker.
Based on: Nightmare of Ecstasy by Rudolph Grey
Genre: Comedy-Drama / Biopic
Released: October 7 1994
by Touchstone Pictures
Running time: 127 mins (2 hr, 7 mins)
Cert: 15 (BBFC) R (MPAA)
Rating: ★★★★★+

IMDb | View Trailer
You are interested in the unknown. The mysterious. The unexplainable. That is why you are here. And now, for the first time, we are bringing to you the full story of what happened, on that fateful day. We are giving you all the evidence, based only on a secret testimony, of the miserable souls, who survived this terrifying ordeal. The incidents, the places. My friend, we cannot keep this a secret any longer. Can your heart stand the shocking facts about 'Edward D. Wood Jr.'?
Although I'm not the world's biggest Tim Burton fan, I have been fascinated by the true story of transvestite B-movie director Ed Wood for quite some time. I haven't seen any of Woods films, but I have read the stories behind them numerous times and they're quite humorous. Before watching Ed Wood, I had heard many a good thing about the film and I decided to buy the DVD. When I put the DVD into my X Box (I don't own a DVD player anymore >.<), I was totally unprepared for how awesome a film I was about to watch. Seriously, before writing this review, I watched this film two more times.

The plot of Ed Wood is mostly true as many of the events did happen in real life but there are some that are exaggerated or even modified for entertainment purposes. But to me, that didn't really matter because most of the film is factual and sometimes you need a little bit of fiction thrown in there. Apart from the few couple of historical inaccuracies  I thought that the true aspects of the film were shown very well. I enjoyed following Ed's life and his friendship with tragic Hollywood legend Bela Lugosi, which somewhat mirror's Tim Burton's working relationship with his childhood hero, Vincent Price. It's nice when director's add personal details to their films. I think what strikes me about how the story is played out, is how heartbreaking certain aspects of the film are. It's sad that Ed doesn't really have the talent or money to make any decent films and people don't really understand how ladies' clothes make him feel but the most heartbreaking part concerns Bela. It's actually quite tragic that he's out of work, his wife recently left him, he has a horrible morphine addiction and people don't care for him anymore. I love it when a film makes me feel things for its characters, and the fact that everyone in this film did exist, heightened the heartbreakiness.

I really liked Johnny Depp's portrayal of Ed. I loved Ed's optimism, despite the fact that everything he does sucks. He's always trying to make his work better, even though it actually gets worse, always focuses on the positive and takes and immense amount of pride in his work. I admire that in a person. The real Wood was, to me, quite an interesting person as he was a heterosexual cross-dresser  He liked to wear women's clothes but he wasn't gay. He also had a thing for angora because the feel of it made him feel comfortable or something like that. During the Plan 9 scenes Ed actually directs parts of the film in an angora sweater and a skirt. Sometimes he also wears a wig while still sporting a mustache  It's kind of sad that some people don't really understand Ed's "habit", especially his girlfriend, Dolores (played by Sarah Jessica Parker) who can't handle it and is embarrassed by it. I loved how Johnny Depp portrayed Wood but I don't think that he gave the best performance of the film.

The best performance of the film is definitely's Martin Landau's performance as Bela Lugosi. Holy crap, his performance was just so good. Actually, it was better than good, it was perfect! It didn't feel like I was watching Martin Landau simply perform while doing an impression of Lugosi, he pretty much became Lugosi. I honestly didn't expect Landau's performance to be as powerful as it was and I was even surprised by some of his lines. A perfect example of a line that surprised me is when Ed and Bela are watching The Vampira Show and Bela makes a very blunt comment about Vampira's chest. I am not kidding, the line is "look at those jugs". I nearly spat out whatever was in my mouth the first time I watched the film. I also didn't expect Bela to be prone to fits of swearing, but I guess that's what drugs does to people. Although Johnny Depp is a fantastic actor, I probably wouldn't have enjoyed this film as much without Martin Landau. He definitely deserved his Oscar.

I love the way that Ed Wood looks; it has the look and feel of an old Hollywood B-movie, with the black and white and simple special effects. The opening credits of the film is an homage to the opening credits of Wood's film Plan 9 from Outer Space, which features the cast members names appearing on tombstones and changing whenever there is a flash of lightning and a clap of thunder. Since this is a Tim Burton film, rather than simply staying still, the camera pans through a creepy-looking cemetery and zooms in on the tombstones until it goes over a model of 1950s Hollywood and into a theatre where a play of Ed's is holding its opening night. I'm not too sure why the film was shot in black and white, but this is one of those films where I simply can't imagine it being in full colour. To me, the black and white fits in with the theme of B-movies and trashy movies, which back in the 1950s, were all filmed in black and white because colour was expensive.
I absolutely adore Howard Shore's musical score for Ed Wood. The score has a bizarre science-fiction theme to it, thanks to extensive use of a theremin (one of these: click for video) and also a Cuban-style percussion. I always say that music in a film has to be used appropriately and reflect the mood of the scene, and in Ed Wood, the music does exactly that. One of the scenes were this is done perfectly in the scene near to the end of the film where Ed is making his film Plan 9 from Outer Space just as he wants. It's a triumphant moment for Ed but at the same time it's ironic, because judging on how his other films turned out, you sort of know what's going to happen.
I just had to whip out the Golden UFO for this film. I loved it so much. This film made me laugh, it nearly made me cry, and that's what a good film should do. From this point on, I definitely consider Ed Wood to be one of my favourite films of all time. OF ALL TIME! I would definitely recommend this film, so go watch it! Do it now!

Review: Sweet Evil by Wendy Higgins

Sweet Evil
Wendy Higgins
Series: The Sweet Trilogy #1
Genre: YA Paranormal Romance
Released: May 1 2012
by HarperTeen
Source: Purchased
Rated: ★★★★

Add to Goodreads | Purchase online

What if there were teens whose lives literally depended on being bad influences?

This is the reality for sons and daughters of fallen angels.

Tenderhearted Southern girl Anna Whitt was born with a sixth sense to see and feel emotions of other people. She's aware of a struggle within herself, an inexplicable pull toward danger, but Anna, the ultimate good girl, has always had the advantage of her angel side to balance the darkness within. It isn't until she turns sixteen and meets the alluring Kaiden Rowe that she discovers her terrifying heritage and her willpower is put to the test. He's the boy your daddy warned you about. If only someone had warned Anna.

Forced to face her destiny, will Anna embrace her halo or her horns?
I've been meaning to read Sweet Evil for a while now since quite a few people have been raving about it. Paranormal romances aren't really my thing but I decided to give it a go and joined a read-along for the book. I'm actually glad that I did give the book a go!

Before reading Sweet Evil, I had never heard of nephilims and books about angels and demons were pretty much untouched ground (the only angel book I'd read prior to Sweet Evil was Fallen, which was just no good). Because I didn't know about nephs, it was interesting to learn more about them along with Anna as I was reading. Learning along with the characters made my reading experience more enjoyable because it felt like I was there as the events were happening. I loved the plot as it managed to keep me engaged all the way through and even had me on edge at certain points.

I really loved the characters of Sweet Evil, they are definitely likable and grew on me more and more as the book progressed. Out of all the characters, I liked Anna the most because she seemed to be quite believable to me and I could even somewhat relate to her. I loved her narrative and being able to know what she was thinking and how she would resist things. I quite liked her relationship with Kaiden; it wasn't exactly insta-love but it was pretty quick. That bugged me a little bit, but I easily got over as their relationship developed. Although I liked her relationship with Kaiden, I'm a bit on the fence about whether I like Kai or not. He is swoon-worthy, but his personality is so hot and cold that at some times I wanted him for myself and at other times I wanted to slap him.

I have a thing for books that take me through a world or country and in Sweet Evil we are taken on a road trip from Atlanta to Los Angeles and we even go to New York. I love seeing characters going to different locations, and I especially loved reading about Anna and Kaiden driving cross-country and how their relationship develops on the journey.

I loved the narrative of Sweet Evil and being able to read in Anna's voice was incredibly enjoyable. But more important than that is the romance. Romance isn't my favourite genre but the romance of Sweet Evil was hot. I sometimes found myself reading paragraphs again, just to get the image of a scene back into my head, it was that steamy.

I loved this book a bit more than I had expected me to. I loved the plot, the romance, the characters but I'm still a bit unsure about Kaidan. He was hot, but the whole hot and cold thing put me off him a little bit. But that aside, I am really looking forward to the next book in the series!

Follow Friday (17)

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

Q: Books are turned into movies all the time! Turn it around. What movie would make a great book?

It's so hard for me to choose! I would say either Roman Holiday or Casablanca; I would love to be able to see the romance in those films unfold on page!

Happy Friday!

Review: Rumours by Anna Godbersen

Anna Godbersen
Series: The Luxe #2
Genre: YA Historical
Released: June 3 2008
by Penguin Books
Source: Borrowed from library
Rating: ★★★

Add to Goodreads | Purchase online
December 1899, New York City

Manhattan has bid farewell to its brightest star, the dazzling Miss Elizabeth Holland. Yet the rumours about her untimely demise continue. Meanwhile her sister, the irrepressible Diana, has been seen in the company of not one, but three eligible bachelors. Might there be a fourth?

In high society, reputation is everything. The Holland family simply can't afford to be the subject of such wicked whispers. Heaven forbid that they should fall so spectacularly from grace...

There is a very fine line between the truth and lies, love and hate. And all is about to be gloriously revealed.
I wasn't too impressed by The Luxe, but I don't give up on a series unless it was excruciatingly horrific, which The Luxe wasn't. I was really hoping that Rumours would be better than The Luxe, and it sort of was. Just a little bit...

I liked the plot of Rumours a lot more than that of The Luxe, as there are more events and drama that take place. It was fun to be able to see all angles of the plot from different perspectives and also the different things that happen in the characters lives. I was glad that there were more surprises and shocks as the book progressed, rather than leaving all of the surprises until the very end.

The one thing that I liked the most about Rumours is how the characters are developed further. I found the characters to be quite generic in The Luxe, but here they are developed further. I still can't stand Penelope, since she is a mean manipulating witch, but I enjoyed seeing characters such as Lina and even Elizabeth develop so that they were more well-rounded.

I said in my review of The Luxe, that I would have liked to have seen more of New York, and in Rumours that sort of happens. Although the high-class side is shown more often, the city is more explored and the setting even switches to California, where Will and Elizabeth are living. I liked being able to see how they live and what they do in California.

The theme of rumours being circulated is present throughout the book and, surprisingly, it didn't get boring because I found it quite fun to see how one rumour could be twisted and turned on its head by many people. However, those two goddamned love triangles are still present and I honestly got bored of reading about it. And, to make matters worse, another one was added in!

Overall, Rumours is a slight improvement on The Luxe, but it isn't all that better than it. The love triangles let the book down, but the characterisation and development of the plot were the best points.

Follow Friday (16)

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

Q: What is a deal-breaker for you in a book? For example, do you abhor love triangles? Or can't deal with bad editing?

I have quite a few deal-breakers in books, for example:

  • Love triangles
  • Jerk love interests
  • Nothing happening until the very end
  • Plot holes
  • The same metaphor or simile being used repeatedly

Happy Friday!

Review: Frankenweenie (2012)

Directed by: Tim Burton
Starring: Winona Ryder, Catherine O'Hara and Martin Short.
Based on: Frankenweenie (1984 short)
Genre: Animation / Comedy-Horror / Family
Released: October 17 2012
by Walt Disney Pictures
Running time: 87 minutes (1 hr, 27 mins)
Cert: PG
Rating: ★★★★★

IMDb | View Trailer
When young Victor's pet dog Sparky (who stars in Victor's home-made monster movies) is hit by a car, Victor decides to bring him back to life the only way he knows how. But when the bolt-necked "monster" wreaks havoc and terror in the hearts of Victor's neighbors, he has to convince them (and his parents) that despite his appearance, Sparky's still the good loyal friend he's always been.
I'm not the world's biggest Tim Burton fan by any means necessary (in fact, before watching this film there were only four Tim Burton films that I liked) but Frankenweenie was the film that I had to see this autumn (everyone else in my house was more excited for Skyfall), not because of the director but because I really wanted to see how this special twist on the classic Frankenstein tale would play out. To show how much I wanted to see this film, I went to go see it alone on my day off from college. I was intensely hoping that I wouldn't be disappointed by Frankenweenie and I wasn't disappointed at all. Not one little bit.

Frankenweenie is a remake of Tim Burton's live-actio first film that he made for Disney and I loved the twists that Burton made to the original Frankenstein story. In the film, young Victor Frankenstein loses his beloved pet dog, Sparky, and figures out a way to bring him back from the dead but has to keep him a secret. Victor's classmates find out about his experiment and when they replicate it in order to win the science fair, chaos ensues. The thing that I loved the most about the film is how various other monster films are intermingled with Frankenstein, which I found to be quite funny. There were plenty of in-jokes that I was the only person in the cinema laughing at, such as references to Godzilla, Gremlins and even one character being a huge reference to Boris Karloff himself. I loved the humour of the film but if you aren't familiar with monster movies or classic horror films, you might not understand. Despite the film being a PG, I found a couple of moments to be a little bit scary. I didn't go see the film in 3D but I do imagine that I would have been more jumpy if I did. There are some kids that are braver than I am, and they might not be as scared as I am.

To me, the cast surprised me. Why? Neither Johnny Depp or Helena Bonham Carter appear in Frankenweenie. Not even in cameo roles. I was actually glad that Tim Burton had decided to work with Martin Short, Catherine O'Hara and Winona Ryder again because I like a bit of variety in a director's filmography. Anyway, I loved the cast and thought that everyone was wonderful. My favourite characters in the film were Edgar 'E' Gore, who is played by Atticus Shaffer (Brick from The Middle), and Mr. Rzykruski, who is played by Martin Landau. Although the character of Mr. Rzykruski was inspired by Vincent Price, I could see similarities between the character and Landau's portrayal of Bela Lugosi in Burton's film Ed Wood (my review of Ed Wood will be up next week), mainly with the accent and the way that he speaks. To me, it seemed like Victor and Mr. Rzykruski were among the very few characters in the film that had complete sense and were the most well-rounded characters since they experience quite a full spectrum of feelings. Edgar provided most of the comedy of the film and I think that casting Atticus Shaffer in the role was a perfect move since he always has me laughing in The Middle. I haven't seen many films that feature the Igor character but I do know that he is an odd character, which Shaffer does so well with his performance and I just loved every minute of it.

This may sound odd, but I'm glad that Frankenweenie was made in stop-motion animation because nearly every animated film that is released today is CGI and I always love it when animators and directors use traditional methods. The stop-motion gives the film a creepy vintage monster movie look to it as does the black and white. I can't comment on whether the 3D is any good because I saw the film in 2D and I didn't see it in IMAX either, so I don't know if that's any good. You'll probably have to find that out for yourself!

Frankenweenie's music was composed by Danny Elfman, who also composed the music for Batman, Batman Returns, Beetlejuice, The Nightmare Before Christmas and even the theme song for The Simpsons. Dude's a pretty big deal to me. I loved Elfman's score, which has the typical Tim Burton feel to it and perfectly captured the feel of the film. Through the song, I knew when I should feel scared, when I should feel happy and when I should feel a bit teary-eyed.

For me, Frankenweenie is one of the best films that I've seen this year. I loved everything about it. I loved the animation, the cast, the music; everything was so good! People of all ages would like this film, and, to me, it's obvious that this film meant a lot to Tim Burton since everything looks like it is done to perfection. I would definitely recommend this film to people of all ages. One of the best films I've seen all year!