Wednesday, September 25, 2013

FREE ON AMAZON: I'M NO ANGEL ~ KYLIE BISUTTI

For a limited time the Kindle edition of Kylie Bisutti's I'm No Angel is free on Amazon! You can read my review here, and download the free book here.


In December 2011, 21-year-old Victoria's Secret model Kylie Bisutti stunned the fashion industry when she chose faith over fame and fortune and made the switch from supermodel to role model.

In I'm No Angel, Kylie shares her story--from her early years struggling to make it big in the cut-throat world of modeling, her "big break" winning the Victoria's Secret Runway Angel competition, and the disillusionment and spiritual warfare that followed, to the moment she realized that she could no longer reconcile her career with her Christian beliefs, surrendered her life to God, said goodbye to the runway, and dedicated her life to preaching a message of modesty and inner beauty.

Along the way, Kylie talks about her personal struggles with inadequacy, low self-esteem, and her near-constant quest for approval in a world where you can never be thin enough, pretty enough, or sexy enough. She helps readers understand that true beauty lies within and that real fulfillment comes from knowing, loving, and serving Christ.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

THE MORTAL INSTRUMENTS: CITY OF BONES


The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones is based on the first book of Cassandra Clare’s The Mortal Instruments Series.  The story follows Clary Fray who, upon her mother’s disappearance, discovers that she is a shadowhunter – a demon slayer, if you will.  The story follows Clary’s introduction into the shadowhunter world and her quest to rescue her mother.


Visually the film is beautifully done, and it is a joy to behold.  It truly is a thing of beauty and scenes from the book are wonderfully brought to life.  Overall though, the movie doesn’t pack as much punch as I had hoped.

Lily Collins (Clary), Robert Sheenan (Simon), Jamie Campbell Bower (Jace), Kevin Zegers (Alec), Jemima West (Isabelle)

Unfortunately the acting is not up to par.  The chemistry between Lily Collins and Jamie Campbell Bower is really good, but even their acting falls a little short.  Bower doesn't fully capture Jace’s attitude.  Jace, in the book, is very intense, very sarcastic and comes across as a tortured soul.  Bower only manages to make Jace seem aloof.  As for Clary, Collins does a pretty good job, but again, fails to completely bring her character to life.  Book Clary is innocent but fierce, a force to be reckoned with, and I’m not convinced Collins brings Clary’s tough side out prominently enough; there is just something missing.  


Jace and Clary

Bower and Collins are, however, very convincing as two people falling in love – possibly because they truly fell in love while filming (... or did they? I'm never 100% convinced when co-stars 'fall in love' - is it real, or is it for publicity? Anyhoo...)

Aiden Turner (Luke), Lena Headey (Jocelyn), Jonathyn Rhys Meyers (Valentine)

The best of the lot is probably Lena Headey (Jocelyn), and she has very limited screen time – in total, probably ten minutes max.  Jonathan Rhys Meyers fails to deliver as Valentine; I love Meyers as an actor, I just could not take him seriously as this villain.  He comes across very theatrical; he made me want to laugh more than cower in fear, and that's just unacceptable for an antagonist.  Aiden Turner delivers a fairly good portrayal of Luke, but also has precious little screen time.


Jace fighting vampires

Kevin Zegers portrays Alec perfectly.  He packs just the right amount of intensity and resentment, manages to convey a lot without saying much and comes across all the more threatening for it.  I was more frightened of him in the scene where he attacks Clary than I ever was of Valentine.  His character, though, is not as prominent in the movie as he is in the book; both he and Isabelle are more in the background than anything else. 


Alec

Speaking of Isabelle, it’s hard to critique Jemima West as, again, her character has very little screen time.  Overall, I have no major complaints regarding her acting. Character-wise, though, Isabelle is not nearly mean enough.  In the book she makes Clary’s life really difficult , she’s very bitchy and she even openly flirts with Simon – all of these character traits were omitted from the film.  You would never know from watching the film that Isabelle can't stand Clary.  


Isabelle being much too nice to Clary

Robert Sheehan was the perfect choice to play Simon, and he
pretty much nails all things Simon.  True to the book character, Sheehan’s performance stands out as very authentic.  Overall, though, I can't help but wonder if the movie might not have been a bigger success if a stronger cast had been attached to it. Too many movies nowadays aim to involve lesser-known actors.  I am positive that bigger names would have not only delivered stronger performances, but would also have drawn larger audiences, and the sequels would not have been in danger; but more about this later.

Clary and Simon

Apart from visually perfecting the look of the film, there are also at least two major improvements from the book - the film version elected not to turn Simon into a rat, and the vampires do not have flying motorcycles.  These are the only two things about the book that really annoyed me, taking away from an otherwise quite realistic storyline, and I am happy that the film altered these storylines to be more realistic.

As for the ending – the film took major liberties!  I would say that the last 30 minutes of the film differs remarkably from the book.  The basic premise remains, but everything is changed quite significantly – including the issue surrounding the burning question readers were left with – are Clary and Jace truly related?  Where book readers have to wait until book 3, City of Glass, to discover the truth, the movie may have dropped a major spoiler in this regard.  That annoys me more than anything – it’s completely alright to torture the readers, but let’s not keep the movie-goers wondering.  The fan base of the books is what made a movie possible in the first place, and to me this was a huge slap in the face to a loyal fandom who made this movie possible (and by all accounts are the only people to have spent money on seeing the movie, too).  


Clary instinctively using a rune the other shadowhunters had never even seen before

The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones is considered a box office flop.  City of Bones cost $60 million make, but after three weeks in theatres, the movie had only earned $37 million world-wide.  Consequently production on its sequel, based on the second book in the series, City of Ashes, has been halted indefinitely.  According to an official statement, Constantin Films wishes to "analyze the results to date and reposition the franchise in order to maximize results for future instalments" According to Martin Moszkowicz:

Pushing back the start of production of City of Ashes was a decision we did not take lightly. But after speaking with all of our partners on the creative and distribution side, it was clear that it will be beneficial to have more time to reposition the film in the current marketplace. The Mortal Instruments series has an incredibly loyal and ardent fan base and is a best-selling book series. While taking Cassandra Claire’s vision to the screen we want to make sure to draw on the full potential of the franchise.

Constantin Films has not said that it is cancelling the franchise, but realistically speaking, under the circumstances the chances of a sequel actually being filmed are slim.

Overall I enjoyed the film and it is by no means a major disappointment.  There is, however, no denying that it could have been more... 

just more.



Related post:
Book review: TMI: City of Bones ~ Cassandra Clare

Monday, September 16, 2013

FREE ON AMAZON: SHADOWS ~ JENNIFER L. ARMENTROUT

For a limited time the Kindle edition of Shadows by Jennifer L. Armentrout is free on Amazon.   Shadows is a type of prequel to the Lux Series and tells the story of how Daemon's twin, Dawson, fell in love with his human girlfriend, Bethany. Get it here now.  



The last thing Dawson Black expected was Bethany Williams. As a Luxen, an alien life form on Earth, human girls are…well, fun. But since the Luxen have to keep their true identities a secret, falling for one would be insane.

Dangerous. Tempting. Undeniable.

Bethany can’t deny the immediate connection between her and Dawson. And even though boys aren’t a complication she wants, she can’t stay away from him. Still, whenever they lock eyes, she’s drawn in.

Captivated. Lured. Loved.

Dawson is keeping a secret that will change her existence...and put her life in jeopardy. But even he can’t stop risking everything for one human girl. Or from a fate that is as unavoidable as love itself

Thursday, September 5, 2013

REVIEW: DISASTER STATUS ~ CANDACE CALVERT

Charge nurse Erin Quinn escaped personal turmoil to work on the peaceful California coast. But when a hazardous material spill places Pacific Mercy Hospital on disaster status and stresses staff, she's put to the test. And thrown into conflict with the fire department's handsome incident commander, who thinks her strategy is out of line. Fire Captain Scott McKenna has felt the toxic effects of tragedy; he's learned to go strictly by the book to advance his career, heal his family, and protect his wounded heart. When he's forced to team with the passionately determined ER charge nurse, sparks fly. As they work to save lives, can they handle the attraction kindled between them . . . without getting burned?


Disaster Status by Candace Calvert is the second book in the Mercy Hospital series.  The story follows Erin, who was a supporting character in Critical Care, and fire fighter Scott McKenna.  Scott and Erin are thrown together when they must join forces to control the repercussions of a hazardous material spill, and initially they seem as ill-suited as oil and water; they disagree on everything and hardly a conversation concludes without one of them losing their cool.  The longer they are in each other’s company, however, the better they come to understand each other and soon they develop an attraction neither wants or understands.  Both are also facing personal issues that seem more important than getting romantically involved.

Scott has lost faith in God following events that left him shattered.  The loss of his sister rests heavily on his heart as not a day goes by that he doesn’t ask himself if he could have saved her that fateful day.  Scott is also tired of living in his hero father’s shadow.  He loves his father and honours his memory, but he deeply feels that he will never live up to his father’s legacy.  What Scott fails to consider is the fact that his doubts and insecurities might take him away from the woman who could heal his battered heart.

Erin has major issues with her father.  He has done nothing but let his family down, breaking his daughter’s heart over and over again, until she finally locked him out with a refusal to ever let him back in.  This left her with a deep-seated distrust of men in general.  Now that her father and mother have reconciled, Erin finds herself in her family’s cross-hairs, everybody determined to get her to forgive her father, causing Erin to isolate herself from her family even more.  While Erin has no doubt that letting her father back in her life would be a mistake, she never considers that her issues with her father might cost her the man of her dreams.

Can two stubborn people find a way to get over their issues and find love?  Can Erin fully give her heart to a man who no longer shares her faith?  Dare she hope that Scott can find his way back to the Lord? Can Scott face his past and open his heart to the future?  Can God find a way to heal them both and give them the desires of their hearts?

Supporting characters include Erin’s grandmother who is carrying a heart-breaking secret, Scott’s nephew who is struggling with a form of survivor’s guilt and is facing a possible leg amputation, and a damaged war veteran determined to protect the boy at all costs.

From the blurb I expected the hazardous material spill to be a much larger part of the story, but it does fade into the background after Erin and Scott’s initial meeting.  Even so, this event gives the story a solid foundation and realistic repercussions kept the story interesting.  The focus on faith is, as always, handled wonderfully, coming across loud and clear while never becoming preachy. 

While I liked both Erin and Scott, for some reason I did not connect with them emotionally; not as strongly as I usually do with Calvert’s main characters.   Truthfully, I was much more connected to Leigh (who will be a main character in the next book), and I found myself more eager to read Leigh excerpts than those of Erin and Scott.  I very much look forward to reading Leigh and Nick’s story in Code Triage, the next book in the series, and am psychologically preparing myself – this one already has a tight hold on my heart strings and I just know that reading it is going to be emotionally taxing. 

Calvert’s work is, once again, top notch.


Product Information:
Title: Disaster Status
Author: Candace Calvert
Pages: 340
Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers
Year: 2010
ISBN: 1414325444
ISBN-13: 9781414325446

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