Belinda_kisses_tnSnip review by Belinda Hamilton as she enjoys her new Netflix

 

VikingsAt the encouragement of my boss, this time I’ve been watching Vikings. Now I do realise I’ve missed this one on free to air TV via SBS and I think I’ll wait for season 3 to come to Netflix before I catch up so I don’t have to deal with ads, and can just marathon them like I did these first 2 seasons.

I’m a history buff, and European history is always a shiny trinket to my magpie mind. Michael Hirst writes about actual historical figures with, I guess what would be considered,  some accuracy, making this program something special.

The cast is perfectly selected, from Ragna Lothbrok played by Travis Fimmel, to Lagertha Lothbrok played by Katheryn Winnick, whom you may know from Bones.

This brutal and bloody series from the History Channel is extremely entertaining and makes me long for the Abbey Festival.

Once you’ve finished all the Netflix stuff, there is plenty of youtube content from comic con and other interviews.

If you haven’t seen this series yet, you’re welcome in advance.

Skål!

 



sugg_Girl OnlineJoelene:

Cover

The cover markets the book really well. From the pastel blue background, swirly pink font, heart drawing and photographs, it’s easy to tell that this is a light YA romance set in the real world. I don’t like the cover personally, but that’s more to do with the fact that I never look out for this genre.

Characters

The protagonist is a shy fifteen-year-old called Penny Porter. The only time she feels authentic is when she’s writing her blog. The other characters are her friends, her frenemies, her family, and the people she meets when she goes to America.

Favourite

I didn’t really connect with anyone in this story. Some of them had moments of being okay – but only moments. Megan was probably my favourite, partially because she was so unapologetically demanding, nasty and confident; partially because she moved every bit of the plot in the story – she was the recurrent inciting incident – so as a character she worked.

Least Favourite

Penny. While Megan owns her awfulness, Penny seems to think that she’s a wonderful person. Despite the fact that she genuinely has no idea what’s going on in her best friend’s life and, in fact, forgets about him at significant moments without ever seeming to feel guilty about it. Oh, and she lies to him – about things that make no sense to lie about.

Beginning

Things aren’t going well for Penny. Her school-friend, Megan, is being crueller to her than usual. She keeps embarrassing herself in front of Ollie, the guy she has been crushing on but who is way out of her league (and possibly a little too in love with himself). At least she has her best friend, Elliot; and her blog.

Storyline

When Penny’s parents have the chance to fly them all to America, it may be the answer to all of Penny’s problems or her worst nightmare.

Ending

It’s a rocky journey, but the end delivers everything the cover promises. Light, fluffy romance galore.

Thoughts

I’m significantly outside of the target audience and, with this book at least, it shows. It wasn’t my thing. It felt a little like the author/s threw every romantic movie/book cliché ever in there and hoped that it would all work out. There were moments of genuine sweetness; Elliot helping Penny overcome her fears by teaching her about superhero alter egos was cute. Less cute is the fact that while Penny is the central character she initiates no action.

 

Quote

“…don’t you just love the way photos are able to freeze special moments in time forever?”

 

suggBel:

 

Cover

I loved that Zoe and the publishers held a competition for her followers to add an image to the cover of her book, for both the US and the UK editions. Daisy Trodd’s picture of the Brighton Carousel is on the cover of the copy I own. Zoe’s personality comes through in the instagram type pictures and fairy lights. The font is bright and airy. The background is a pretty duck egg blue. Over all it is very relevant for the story inside and visibly fresh.

Characters

There are really no surprises to be found, bullies, cute guy, loving yet slightly distant parents, great best friend and our introverted leading lady.

Favourite

Elliot has to be my favourite because he’s what I’d want in a best friend.

Least Favourite

Ollie, oil isn’t as slippery as that sucker.

Beginning

Penny is making her way through life in high school and starts an anonymous blog to sort through her angst. Her parents are contracted to organise an event in the US.

Storyline

Penny, her best friend, Elliot, and her parents head to the US, and Penny meets Noah.

Ending

Expected, but still enjoyable.

Thoughts

I enjoyed this book for its light and airy feel. I like the journey of self discovery Penny goes on. The themes of cyber bullying and dealing with fame are covered and though both are quite vicious, I was able to find an abundance of positivity.

Quote

“OK, from now on can you please just assume that my response to anything you say is prefixed with a “WTF”!” ~ Elliot talking to Penny.

 

 suggKrista:

Cover

The cover of the book reminds me of a background image on what we may find today on a blog online. It fits the story perfectly.

Characters

Penny and Noah are the main characters, but we also get to get to know Elliot (Penny’s best friend) very well and he’s a great side character.

Favourite

Noah was my favorite character, his story is very touching. I felt he added a lot to the character growth of Penny. The story really wouldn’t be as thought provoking without him.

Least Favourite

Megan. There is always a mean girl and she fits the bill. Her actions are all selfish and she seems to relish in the drama.

Beginning

Penny decides to start an anonymous blog and a place that she would feel more comfortable writing her feelings. Anonymously.

Storyline

Penny is a quiet, self conscious girl who tends to stay out of the crowd; she’s insecure and only comfortable with her close family and best friend. They take a trip from the UK to the US as Penny’s mom gets a job assignment, and they are lucky enough to stay for a week or so over the Holiday season.

Ending

With the help and encouragement of Noah, Penny learns how to focus on what is important to her in life and become more self aware and positive.

Thoughts

I thought that this was a very cute story. It relayed a very important storyline of staying strong, positive and courageous when times get hard. Sure, it’s unlikely that any of us would go through the extreme publicity that Penny goes through in this story. But we all can relate to her story in some way; not only being unsure about yourself, but how staying positive on a daily basis is hard! Sometimes turning everything off is the best coping method, but no matter who the bullies or haters are, your personal willingness to persevere and communication is the key. Surrounding yourself with people who really want the best for you is best and staying as true to yourself as possible. These are the things that I walked away with from this story, and I am impressed with the way this book handled these hard subjects.

Quote

“Every time you post something online. You have a choice, you can either make it something that adds to the happiness levels in the world or you can make it something that takes away from them. I tried to add something by starting girl online and for a while it really seemed to be working. So next time you go to post a comment and update or share a link, ask yourself is this going to add to the happiness in the world, and if the answer is going to be no, please delete there is enough sadness in the world today, you don’t need to add to it.”

Discussion Topics:

Today the norm is social media. Online security, privacy and anonymity are all subjects up for discussion with people of all ages. In today’s world do you believe that subjects of online security and privacy should be taught at school?

Zoella makes no secret of her anxiety attacks and how she manages them, both in the book, in her YouTube videos and on her blog. Do you have anything special you do to beat the stress?

Do you think the book glossed over the cyber-bullying a little too much?

 

http://www.zoella.co.uk/

Hardcover, 352 pages

Published November 25th 2014 by Atria / Keywords Press (first published January 1st 2014)

ISBN 0141357274 (ISBN13: 9780141357270)

 



vail-unchosenI devoured Undeadly, book one of the Reaper Diaries, and I was a fan of Michele’s books under the pen name Michele Bardsley. I needed a pick-me-up book and turned to book 2, Unchosen, to make me smile and giggle. Did it work?

Absolutely.

Molly Bartolucci, daughter of an Egyptian god, and student of Nekyia Academy, is in the cross-hairs again. Who is trying to stop her from locating the book she needs to answer her questions, and who dobbed her in for using illegal magic?

The cover art is still on point; the storyline hits all the right buttons. Each chapter starts with an entry from Molly’s Reaper Diary, and everything is going swimmingly with Rath. My only qualm is it just seems to stop at an odd point. It feels like it is perhaps 3 steps away from a nail biting cliff hanger.

I’m glad Michele found a way to have this book published; (through Freeman YA Publications) I just wish it didn’t take me two years to get my hands on a copy. Book 3, Unbroken, doesn’t seem to have a release date, and this makes me sad.

I want to find out how Molly evolves. I need to see the big fight scene. It HAS to happen, and hopefully it happens sooner rather than later.

Paperback, 194 pages

Published October 29th 2013 by Freeman Publishing Company (first published October 26th 2013)

ISBN 0615909094 (ISBN13: 9780615909097)

 

 



shaneyah-tnShaneyah Galley reviews Pitch Perfect 2

pitch-perfect-2This is going to be a slightly biased review, as I’ve been hanging out to see this movie since rumours of a Pitch Perfect sequel started flying last year. You have been warned.

The movie starts with the infamous President’s birthday concert that lead to the Bella’s being kicked out of the ICCAs. Chloe is utterly devastated, and is determined to win the world championships so that the Bella’s will be reinstated before they all graduate. Well, all except newbie ‘legacy’ named Emily.

We see routines from two new groups – both of whom we saw in the trailer – and renown acapella group Pentatonix make a cameo in the worlds as the Canadian team. One old group (besides the Trebles) makes a comeback with a new member. It’s so hilarious, I’m not going to spoil it for you.

All in all, this movie is a super fun sequel to the original flick. Catchy songs, a cute and kind of weird romance sub-plot, and lots of self-discovery by protagonist Becca. This is definitely one to see with your friends and lots of popcorn. Major props to Elizabeth Banks who produced the last film, and makes her directorial debut with this one.

Belinda_kisses_tnNow see what Belinda Hamilton thinks.

Pitch-Perfect-2-posterThe Bella’s are back, as are the fun A Capella battles and the great soundtrack.

This time they are trying to save face, or should I say, butt, from a disastrous performance for President Obama, you’ve seen the trailers… yeah that.

As part of their punishment they’re replaced by the European group on what should have been the Bella’s victory tour. Enter Das Sound Machine, the team they have to beat at the world titles.

The old cast is back and the newbies make me smile, including the Green Bay Packers. Uh huh I agree with Fat Amy on that one.

As with most sequels, the impact isn’t as punchy as the first time around; however, there are just enough laugh out loud and ‘oh no he didn’t just say that sexist remark,’ moments to save it from yawnsville.

I didn’t mind paying the $17.50 it cost to sit in a dark room with perhaps the 6 other people and sing along and snort giggle together.

I just hope they either realise the storyline has run its course and quit while they’re ahead or switch it up considerably if a third instalment to the franchise is to be considered.

If money is tight, wait for the DVD, hopefully the extras will be just as funny and add to the comedic value of the film.

4 out of 5



ockler_delilahBel:

Cover

Torn yellow paper dolls being held together with sticky tape, held by hands with chipped nail varnish. I feel like the symbolism is accurate for the story.

Characters

Delilah doesn’t know why her mother’s relationship with her family is so strained, and as we read on it is difficult not to fall in love with each and every character.

Favourite

Patrick, (I think we’ll probably all choose him). He’s just *sigh* so nice.

Least Favourite

Finn. Looooooooser.

Beginning

Delilah and her Mum spend the summer closing up her Grandmother’s house.

Storyline

The family secrets come to light and each character has to face their own personal demons.

Ending

Satisfying to say the least.

Thoughts

I loved this book so much.

Claire, Delilah’s Mum, begins the story with her head firmly up her butt. Sure she knew things weren’t going well, but by the end she had become someone I wouldn’t mind having a coffee with.

It’s important for us to realise our parents don’t have all the answers, and they get things wrong sometimes as well.

Themes of grief, mental illness, and self respect are wonderfully prevalent throughout.

Quote

“Claire? It’s Rachel. I’m afraid I have some bad news.”

 

ockler_mermaidsJoelene:

Cover

A paper-doll chain with one doll torn and patched with sticky-tape. It suits the nostalgic aspect of this novel and the idea of a family that has forgotten how to function.

Characters

The novel is from the perspective of Delilah Hannaford. Other major characters are her mother, her aunt Rachel, and Patrick, the guy she was friends with as kids but hasn’t seen for years. While Delilah’s grandmother, grandfather and other aunt, Stephanie, are all dead, they almost seem like characters in their own right.

Favourite

Delilah. She had her flaws, but her voice is really strong in the writing.

Least Favourite

Patrick. He wasn’t terrible, but I didn’t feel like he added anything to the story. Every time he was in it, I wanted to go back and figure out what was happening with Delilah, her mum and her aunt. He was also a little too unforgiving. When Delilah had just found out that the person she most trusted had been lying to her her whole life, it’s no wonder that she doubted him.

Beginning

Delilah has been getting in trouble a lot lately; getting caught shop-lifting, sneaking out with a boy – and her grades are dropping. When her mother gets a call saying that her grandmother has died, the last remaining Hannaford women head for Vermont to tie up loose ends.

Storyline

Leaving the past behind is more difficult than it would seem, as the Hannafords soon find. Delilah’s determined to uncover the reason for the rift that split the family eight years before. Her mother is equally determined to keep those secrets buried.

Ending

The ending here is satisfying and sweet without being cheesy.

Thoughts

I really liked this one, which is odd because it’s not a genre I’d choose. It’s well written and the characters are easy to understand though they have complex emotions.

Quote

“…if things were different between us, more like they used to be, I’d want to go…because nothing would be as important as helping my mother and aunt through this tragedy and tying up its many loose ends – the three remaining Hannaford women united and strong as an unsinkable ship.

But things aren’t different. She’s her and I’m me and surrounding us is an ocean of mess and misunderstanding…”

 

ockler_twitter2011Krista:

Cover

I think the cover with the cut out paper dolls is cute. It represents there is a crack in the chain and represents the story well with Delilah stuck in the middle.


Characters

The story focuses on Delilah, her relationship with her mother and love interest Paul.

Favourite

I would have to tie my favorites with Paul and Delilah’s aunt Rachel. They both seemed to bring the most stability to this rocky situation they find themselves in.

Least Favourite

I can’t say that any of the characters were the least favourite.

Beginning

After her grandmother’s death. Delilah, her mother and aunt all stay for the summer getting the house ready for sale. A friend from a long time ago comes to give Delilah some help and company.

Storyline

While preparing her deceased grandmother’s house for sale, Delilah and her family have to face their past head-on and confront what has come between them, one secret at a time.

Ending

I guess a part of me was really hoping for a big dramatic ending with Delilah and Paul running off into the sunset and the happily ever after. But we get a very down to earth and heart warming story of this family, finally learning how to communicate and opening new doors to their futures.

Thoughts

I don’t read realistic contemporary very often. But joining the book club was exactly for reasons like this book. Opening my eyes to something outside my usual style. This book especially spoke to me because it focused on a dysfunctional family and how they learn to communicate better with each other. Every single character in this story grew, learned from each other and in became closer to each other by doing so.

Quote

“It‘s complicated. I think when bad things happen—whether someone dies or people argue or split up—you get to a point where it‘s just too hard to go back. There‘s so much lost. So many versions of the truth. So many versions of how things might‘ve turned out differently. We all long for what could have been. For some people, it‘s just easier to move forward and try to forget.”

“Doesn’t matter how many people are in the crowd anymore, Delilah. Ten or ten thousand, I’m still only singing for one.”

Discussion Topics

Mental illness is a key theme in Fixing Delilah. While it’s good to see these issues in literature, was Ockler’s handling of it astute – or kind – considering the fates of the two characters who suffered from this affliction?

Do you think that honesty is the best policy?

 



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