Thursday, August 21, 2014

Big Hero 6

Also coming out in November is a new Disney movie that looks adorable!



"From Walt Disney Animation Studios, the team behind “Frozen” and “Wreck-It Ralph,” comes “Big Hero 6,” an action-packed comedy-adventure about the special bond that develops between Baymax, a plus-sized inflatable robot, and prodigy Hiro Hamada. When a devastating event befalls the city of San Fransokyo and catapults Hiro into the midst of danger, he turns to Baymax and his close friends, adrenaline junkie Go Go Tomago, neatnik Wasabi, chemistry whiz Honey Lemon and fanboy Fred. Determined to uncover the mystery, Hiro transforms his friends into a band of high-tech heroes called “Big Hero 6.” Inspired by the Marvel comics of the same name, and featuring breathtaking action with all the heart and humor audiences expect from Walt Disney Animation Studios, “Big Hero 6” is directed by Don Hall and Chris Williams, and produced by Roy Conli. The film hits theaters in 3D on Nov. 7, 2014."

"Hairy baby."

Oh my gosh. I've seen one trailer and I'm already in love with Baymax. He's like a big, puffy Wall-E. Can't wait to see the movie!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The Babadook

The movie, The Babadook, finally has a U.S. release date- November 23rd, 2014!



I heard about this a while back- it is supposed to be seriously scary. And now that I've seen the trailer, I agree. Do you remember reading a scary story and then being so afraid to go to sleep because what if it came true?? Well, that's the concept here. The Babadook looks like it is going to put a stop to my sleeping for a while. 

Description:
Six years after the death of her husband, Amelia struggles to discipline her “out-of-control” six-year-old Samuel – a son she finds difficult to love. Samuel’s dreams are plagued by a monster he believes is coming to kill them both. When a disturbing storybook called “The Babadook” turns up at their house, Samuel is convinced that the Babadook is the creature he’s been dreaming about. And when Amelia begins to see glimpses of the creature herself, it slowly dawns on her that the thing Samuel has been warning her about may well be real.

Check out the trailer...if you dare.


Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Outlander

Now, don't toss tomatoes at me or anything, but I have only ever read a small fraction of the ever-popular Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon, although I did meet her at a local book festival where I had her sign a graphic novel I had purchased called, The Exile. She was incredibly charming and friendly, making a few jokes to others ahead of me in line about the relentless sun that Arizona is so famous for (her poor booth faced directly into the sun and several other authors had already bailed). I've always meant to read the books in order, but it wasn't until I started watching the show that I realized that I might be seriously missing out.



So far, I've decided that all buff men should wear a kilt, accents can be sinfully hot, and Claire is one of the strongest female characters I've ever seen. She uses her knowledge of medicine to help Jamie and has the wherewithal to recall discussions had with her husband to help familiarize herself with her location and time. Yes, she does breakdown about her circumstances, but not in a way that makes her appear weak. I could only hope that I would be as smart should I accidentally fall through time into a place that is wholly unfamiliar where people in red coats start shooting at me, one unsavory guy that looks suspiciously like my husband back in the real world tries to rape me, and I'm rescued by an extremely gorgeous Irishman.



All kidding aside, from the beginning theme song, which is truly beautiful, to the preview of the next episode, everything about this show will have you transfixed, and dare I say it, transported to another world. I'm no good at recapping episodes, so I won't even try, but I do recommend that you tune in to watch.


You can find more information about the show and it's incredibly talented cast over at the Starz website, but be warned, I've already claimed Jamie as my new fake boyfriend so you can't have him.

If you're anything like me, after watching the first couple of episodes you will want to search for the books because not knowing what happens to Claire and Jamie is not an option, and if patience isn't your strongsuit, I suggest these hopping on over to Amazon, BN, Goodreads, and Diana Gabaldon's website, which includes a reading list, information about the aforementioned graphic novel, and lots of authorly (yes, I've decided that is a word) goodies.





Monday, August 18, 2014

Review: The Art of How to Train Your Dragon 2

Book Description:

Here is a look behind the frozen fjords and ice caves of Berk at the making of the sequel to a beloved animated classic. This full-color, lavishly illustrated book features more than 650 paintings, drawings, sketches, models, film stills, lighting studies, color keys, story boards, and photographs. Along with quotes from all the principal filmmakers there is also an introduction by the writer/director Dean DeBlois and a foreword by Gerard Butler, the voice of Stoick.

In this brilliantly conceived sequel, we are on a journey of exploration to new lands, four-winged dragons, long-lost love, vicious and powerful enemies, and ginormous Bewilderbeasts.

How does a movie of such imagination and magnitude come into creation? Well, you begin with an incredibly talented team of artists, writers, engineers, animators, modelers, and tech wizards and you let their creativity soar. The result is a stunning, original vision—bigger, better, and fiercer than ever—of an earth-shattering, fire-breathing sequel to the legendary story of Vikings and dragons in the frozen north.

Hold on to your dragons, fans and friends, you're in for the ride of a lifetime!


Review:

This was a fun book to review because I have kids and we love animation. So I decided to pull out the book when my daughter was having a sleepover and we took notes about the pages that made an impression. The girls, all preteens, had a great time! Now we just need to see the movie!

Here's what the girls had to say in their notes about the book:

*The introduction shows some sketchwork of Toothless that reminded us of Stitch, curious and cute, but probably going to cause some trouble.



*On pages 14-15 the Director explains their visit to the Arctic and showed the pictures that inspired the locations in the book. We learned that there are 5000 polar bears in a place called Svalbard.



*The book was divided into sections that make it very easy to browse what you are more interested in, like the characters or the places that the dragons live. One interesting thing was how they aged the characters from the first movie into the second, like they really did grow up, because sometimes sequels don't think of stuff like that. 



*All the artwork is different! Some pictures of the locations are very real looking, others are cartoonish, and our favorites were the watercolors. The watercolor scenery was amazing and so beautiful, with places that we would be lucky to visit, like on pages 76 to 79. Those pages are about the New World Coastline, with the pretty fall colors on the trees and the soft light. It feels peaceful.



We all liked how everyone involved explained how they came up with all their ideas, and how those ideas evolved from simple pencil sketches to awe inspiring watercolors to fun cartoon images. This book, and others like it, would make fantastic gifts for friends and loved ones that enjoy movies, because you get a chance to look beyond the finished product and see the creative process involved. It has also served as a really good conversation starter when visitors pick it up off the coffee table and start flipping thru the pages. This is a great book to look at with family and will excite children of all ages! 


Goodreads   Amazon  BN

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Jenny's non paranormal book review: Jumped by Colette Auclair


Book description:
Thoroughly enjoying herself at her  friend Melissa’s wedding, Amanda Vogel’s best friend Beth finds herself in an unexpected state of shock when she realizes she’s been seated next to her ex-husband, Finn, at the reception. Determined to not let this fluster her, Beth strikes up a conversation only to learn Finn isn’t the same man she walked away from.
Relieved the reception is over, Beth is looking forward to a relaxing weekend against the beautiful backdrop of sunny Aspen at Amanda and Grady’s estate. Little does she know Finn will be partaking in the weekend activities too. But just as Beth decides to keep as much distance between her and Finn as possible, Finn has a terrible accident and Beth is stuck being his bedside nurse.
Over the course of the following weeks, Beth and Finn discover that the wounds of their failed marriage are not all that’s left. There are sparks…and hope. But just as they decide to give their relationship another try, Finn confesses a huge secret that could destroy everything he’s fought to get back—Beth, their relationship, and another chance at love.
Will Beth turn away, or will she take a leap of faith and say “I do” once (again) and for all?
Jenny's review:

Beth is looking forward to enjoying her friend’s wedding, that is until she finds out that she is seated next to her ex-husband, Finn.  Both of them play nice, and Beth decides that seeing him was not so bad.  As luck would have it, the next day while the wedding guests are spending time together, during a football game, Finn breaks his leg.  Finn is forced to stay at the guest house where Beth is living.  Finn knows that as soon as he saw her, he wanted Beth back, and he was going to try to win her heart again.  It seems that Beth is powerless to stop the feelings that she has for Finn, and Finn is going to do any thing to make her love him again.
 
This was a  story of reunited love. Beth and Finn really find out that in their year of marriage they didn’t give it enough chance to grow.  I enjoyed how Finn went about trying to get Beth back, and that even if she didn’t admit it at first Beth knew she still loved him right back.   With a sweet reunion, and some steamy love scenes, this is a great read.

Author website here. Twitter here.



Saturday, August 16, 2014

Inside look at Blood Chimera

Today we are hosting guest author Jenn Lyons, and learning a little bit more about the process for creating the lore behind her latest release, Blood Chimera. It's always of interest to me how writers create, making their work unique and separate from others sharing the genre, so I appreciate when they give us readers a sneak peek. Happy reading!~Anna




Guest post by Jenn Lyons:

I have always held a fascination for the interplay between death and immortality. Both are solid tropes of the vampire: the immortality that vampires themselves possess, the deaths that sustain that longevity. 

Who wouldn’t, if given the chance, want to live forever?

Yet, it’s always a Faustian bargain, isn’t it? A monkey’s paw pact where the addition of an unexpected condition puts the price for living forever too high, turns heaven into hell. In most depictions of the literary vampire, that price is existence itself: the very trial of remembering countless centuries eventually weighs down on the vampire with a burden of ennui that proves overwhelming. This results in one of the greatest ironies of the modern vampire: possessing the ability to live forever, they grapple with the desire to end it all. 

Depression and the struggle to find meaning take on new importance when paired against the callous march of centuries.

Okay then.

I’m going to admit I’ve always had a problem with this depiction, which implies suicidal depression goes hand-in-hand with longevity. 

No disrespect intended to the many fine depictions of the romantic vampire that have come before mine, but it’s personally never sat well with me.

I’ll explain why.

I grew up in a retirement home. ‘Grew up’ is slightly disingenuous, since I didn’t live there, but my mother worked there (she was a housekeeper) and since she raised me by herself, in lieu of a babysitter she couldn’t possibly afford I spent a lot of free time after school and on weekends surrounded by people who were very old and staring death right in the face. They loved having a child around; most of their own children and grandchildren seldom were.

What I learned from those kind souls (besides countless art skills, crafts, sewing, cooking, pottery, and braille – basically anything anyone would teach me) is that there isn’t enough time. There’s never enough time. If they were seventy, they wanted to reach eighty. If they were eighty, they wanted to reach ninety. Sure, there were reasons to settle, to say this is a life lived enough, but those were mostly quality of life issues, not quantity of life causes. Age itself didn’t scare them, but dissolution? Helplessness? That terrified them. These were people who loved life, and they held on with both hands until they made their peace with the final necessity of letting go.

I’ve never liked pairing depression with immortality. Just the opposite, really. When I decided to create my immortal race for Blood Chimera (a race which was not human, and therefore not wired for mortality on a genetic level,) it was one of the tropes I decided to throw out. There’s always that next horizon, the new field to learn, the new lover or family or goal. There’s a lot of ways these vampires can die, but one way that it’s highly unlikely they ever will: by their own hands.

Mind you, that doesn’t mean they aren’t perfectly comfortable killing each other. Hatreds grow to epic proportions when one has millennia to fester emotions, and some crimes are simply too enormous to ever be forgiven.



About "Blood Chimera":
Some ransoms aren’t meant to be paid. Kidnap and Ransom negotiation used to be straightforward. The bad guys kidnap someone, and K & R expert Jackson Pastor negotiates their release, skillfully traversing a maze of bloodthirsty monsters: criminals, terrorists, police, and especially the FBI. But that was before he met real bloodthirsty monsters.

When Jackson Pastor arrives in Los Angeles to help a new client recover his kidnapped wife, he finds himself dropped in the middle of a 500-year-old war between rival European and Mexican vampire clans, a conflict that threatens to escalate into a full-on public gang war. Worse, Jackson hasn’t been brought to Los Angeles to be a negotiator. His new boss wants to turn him into an assassin. With Jackson about to be caught in the middle of a clan war, his only hope of escape may lie with a secret FBI monster-hunting task-force led by a very dangerous, eccentric wizard. Which could be a problem, since Jackson’s a monster himself.

Blood Chimera will be available in trade paperback and ebook via AmazonBarnes and Noble, Kobo, and other online retailers, and for wholesale through Ingram. You can also find Blood Chimera on Goodreads.

Jenn Lyons lives in Atlanta, Georgia, with her husband, three cats and a lot of opinions on anything from Sumerian creation myths to the correct way to make a martini. At various points in her life, she has wanted to be an archaeologist, anthropologist, architect, diamond cutter, fashion illustrator, graphic designer, or Batman. Turning from such obvious trades, she is now a video game producer by day, and spends her evenings writing science fiction and fantasy. When not writing, she can be found debating the Oxford comma and Joss Whedon’s oeuvre at various local coffee shops.

Author website here.



World Weaver Press is an independently owned publisher of fantasy, paranormal, and science fiction. We believe in great storytelling.


Friday, August 15, 2014

Daughter of the Night

Elaine Bergstrom, author of SHATTERED GLASS (1989), later wrote a novel based on the life of the infamous "Blood Countess," Elizabeth Bathori. In DAUGHTER OF THE NIGHT (1992) Bergstrom weaves her fictional version of Bathori's story into the history of her vampire clan, the Austras, including Charles and Steffen (major characters in SHATTERED GLASS) and Charles's son Matthew, but especially the passionate, untamed predator Catherine. The novel takes place in two different time periods. In the first, shorter part, set in the fifteenth century, Prince Istvan Bathori fights alongside Vlad Dracula, the Impaler. The bulk of the story, in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries, centers on the life of Istvan's descendant Elizabeth from childhood to her final downfall. Throughout, the immortal Austras—known to those aware of their existence as the legendary Mountain Lords—play their roles behind the scenes of officially recorded history.

Elizabeth is portrayed as willful and potentially bloodthirsty even as a child. At the age of twelve, she forces her nurse to take her in search of the "Kisasszony," a mysterious, dangerous lady rumored to haunt the nearby woods. This supernatural being turns out to be real, and she is Catherine Austra. Catherine and Elizabeth, immediately drawn to each other, form a blood bond on their first meeting. As Elizabeth matures, marries, and descends into madness, her obsession with the power of blood continues to grow. She strives in vain to absorb life from blood as Catherine does. Meanwhile, a secondary plot explores the relationship of Matthew and his mortal love, Margueri.

By telling much of the story from Elizabeth's viewpoint, Bergstrom arouses sympathy for her without ever condoning her cruel, deranged actions. A woman educated far beyond the common level for even noblewomen of the time, forced into an arranged marriage in early adolescence, Elizabeth can be understood even if not forgiven. And the half-savage Catherine appears to cherish true, deep affection for the Countess, as shown by her role in the haunting outcome of Elizabeth's imprisonment and death.

The author's Historical Note elaborates on the factual background of the narrative and the compromises she made for the sake of effective fiction. Also, a separate Afterword draws an unsettling comparison between Countess Bathori and Jeffrey Dahmer, arrested in Bergstrom's home city during the very period she was working on this book.

Elaine Bergstrom also wrote a Ravenloft (D&D tie-in) novel, BARONESS OF BLOOD (1995), inspired by Countess Bathori.

Margaret L. Carter

Carter's Crypt

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Motherless Child- Review


Motherless Child, by Glen Hirshberg

Book Description:

"In his powerful novel, Motherless Child, Bram Stoker Award–nominee Glen Hirshberg, author of the International Horror Guild Award–winning American Morons, exposes the fallacy of the Twilight-style romantic vampire while capturing the heart of every reader.

It’s the thrill of a lifetime when Sophie and Natalie, single mothers living in a trailer park in North Carolina, meet their idol, the mysterious musician known only as “the Whistler.” Morning finds them covered with dried blood, their clothing shredded and their memories hazy. Things soon become horrifyingly clear: the Whistler is a vampire and Natalie and Sophie are his latest victims. The young women leave their babies with Natalie’s mother and hit the road, determined not to give in to their unnatural desires.

Hunger and desire make a powerful couple. So do the Whistler and his Mother, who are searching for Sophie and Natalie with the help of Twitter and the musician’s many fans. The violent, emotionally moving showdown between two who should be victims and two who should be monsters will leave readers gasping in fear and delight."

Angie's Review:

This is one of the most intriguing vampire novels I have ever read. Not only does the book take a fresh look at an old archetype, but it also examines complex emotional relationships.

The book follows two young, unwed mothers, Natalie and Sophie, who after a night away from their babies, wake up to find themselves the victims of an attack. They are aware of what they have become and they know that in order to protect their children, they have to leave them in the care of Natalie's mother. There is a real sense of heartbreak here, for these young mothers. Leaving their children is devastating to them, and as they try to discover what this new life holds for them, they constantly have to also fight the urge to run back to their kids. 

The metamorphosis is an unbearably lonely one. It is clear that every character who has been turned is struggling with a complete sense of isolation, and they take some small bit of comfort in companionship with each other, but ultimately, the change has left them with little in the way of emotions, and their only true sense is of the loss of something that they can't even quite remember.

So, the book has a very sad, lonely quality. It does not portray becoming a vampire as something desirable. However, in this tale, humans do see these vampires as irresistibly appealing. They literally will offer up their own necks to them, because the change allows vampires to exert some amount of control over the people around them. Hirshberg explains that they are like moths to a flame- they know what will happen to them, and yet the pull to give the vampire whatever they desire is overwhelming.

And perhaps, the most interesting thing to me, was the examination of the relationships in the book. The author looks at a number of issues that affect women. Natalie and Sophie are young women, raising children alone, while the fathers are mostly out of the picture. The burden of parenthood has been placed solely upon them, and the men in the book are left free to make their own decisions while the girls are forced to undertake all of the responsibilities that came from their nights of passion. Similarly, "The Whistler" views Natalie as something he can possess, and he feels no remorse in ruining her life to suit his own desires.

The treatment of the friendship between Natalie and Sophie is also intriguing, and the experiences of Natalie's mother is particularly touching as well.

So there is a lot to like here. But I don't want to say any more because it would ruin your experience of it, and this is a book I highly recommend that you read. I think that there have been so many vampire books over the years, that it's hard to imagine something really unique being written about them anymore, and yet, here we have a book that accomplishes that.
I give it 5 stars!



Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Servants of the Storm


Long-time VampChix favorite author, Delilah Dawson, has a new young adult book out right now!

Servants of the Storm

Book Description:

"A year ago Hurricane Josephine swept through Savannah, Georgia, leaving behind nothing but death and destruction — and taking the life of Dovey's best friend, Carly. Since that night, Dovey has been in a medicated haze, numb to everything around her.

But recently she's started to believe she's seeing things that can't be real ... including Carly at their favorite cafe. Determined to learn the truth, Dovey stops taking her pills. And the world that opens up to her is unlike anything she could have imagined.

As Dovey slips deeper into the shadowy corners of Savannah — where the dark and horrifying secrets lurk — she learns that the storm that destroyed her city and stole her friend was much more than a force of nature. And now the sinister beings truly responsible are out to finish what they started.

Dovey's running out of time and torn between two paths. Will she trust her childhood friend Baker, who can't see the threatening darkness but promises to never give up on Dovey and Carly? Or will she plot with the sexy stranger, Isaac, who offers all the answers — for a price? Soon Dovey realizes that the danger closing in has little to do with Carly ... and everything to do with Dovey herself."

Get it on Amazon.
Check out all of Delilah's books at her website.



Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Paris Secrets #3

Hey guys! Don't forget Michele Renae's third Paris Secrets book- Skin is out now!


Book Description:

 "Exquisite. Bold. Gorgeous. Those were the words that lured her into the Frenchman’s heart.
What began as a flirtatious, daring affair behind windows between the American woman who learned to set her inner vixen free, and the handsome, light-hearted Monsieur Sexy, advanced to the delicious intricacies of cyber-sex. But she is still waiting for his touch.
Finally, the lovers abandon their apprehensions and come together, all senses engaged: sight, sound, smell, and now the delicious glide of his masterful hands over her skin, and the taste of his intoxicating kiss. A dashing musketeer, black velvet Louboutins, and Da Vinci’s mysterious Mona Lisa all become a part of their inventive sexual liaisons.
They have shared their most intimate selves with one another in every way, yet there are still challenges that will try their connection and force them to decide, once and for all, if they are meant for one another…
…or if secrets will break them apart."

Get it now on Amazon.
Get the whole trilogy here.

Learn more about the series on Michele's website.