Saturday, August 1, 2015

August 2015 Releases On My Radar

August 4, 2015
* Not After Everything by Michelle Levy (Add it to Goodreads)
* The Girl at the Center of the World by Austin Aslan (Add it to Goodreads)
* After the Red Rain by Barry Lyga, Robert DeFranco, & Peter Facinelli (Add it to Goodreads)
* Never Always Sometimes by Adi Alsaid by (Add it to Goodreads)

* How to Get Away with Murder The Complete First Season
* Orphan Black Season 3

Movies on Blu-ray/DVD
* Insurgent

August 7, 2015
Movies in Theaters
Dark Places (Limited)
Fantastic Four
The Gift

August 11, 2015
* You’re Never Weird on the Internet - Almost by Felicia Day (Add it to Goodreads)
* Jubilee Manor by Bethany Hagen (Add it to Goodreads)
* The Uninvited by Cat Winters (Add it to Goodreads)
* Reawakened by Colleen Houck (Add it to Goodreads)
* Who Do You Love by Jennifer Weiner (Add it to Goodreads)

* Scandal The Complete 4th Season
* Law & Order: Special Victims Unit The 16th Year
* Person of Interest The Complete 4th Season
* Kendra on Top The Complete 3rd Season

Movies on Blu-ray/DVD
* Hot Pursuit

August 14, 2015
Movies in Theaters
Air (Limited)
Final Girl (Limited)
Before We Go (Limited)
Once I Was a Beehive
Walt Before Mickey

* The Casual Vacancy Mini Series

August 17, 2015
* Finding Center by Katherine Locke (Add it to Goodreads)

August 18, 2015
* The Creeping by Alexandra Sirowy (Add it to Goodreads)
* Riot of Storm and Smoke by Jennifer Ellision (Add it to Goodreads)
* Daring to Be Myself: A Memoir by Laverne Cox (Add it to Goodreads)

* Grey's Anatomy The Complete 11th Season
* Once Upon A Time The Complete 4th Season
* The Blacklist The Complete 2nd Season
* Rookie Blue Season 5, Volume 1

Movies on Blu-ray/DVD
* Walt Disney Animation Studios Short Films Collection

August 25, 2015
* Another Day by David Levithan (Add it to Goodreads)
* Lair of Dreams by Libba Bray (Add it to Goodreads)
* Reawakened by Colleen Houck (Add it to Goodreads)
* Dead Upon a Time by Elizabeth Paulson (Add it to Goodreads)
* Stranded by Melinda Braun (Add it to Goodreads)

* The Walking Dead The Complete 5th Season
* The Mindy Project Season 3
* Portlandia Season 5
* Criminal Minds The Complete 10th Season
* The Good Wife The Complete 6th Season
* Revenge The Complete 4th and Final Season

Movies on Blu-ray/DVD
* Lila & Eve
* Citizenfour

August 26, 2015
* The Walking Dead, Vol. 24: Life and Death by Robert Kirkman (Add it to Goodreads)

August 28, 2015
Movies in Theaters
Z for Zachariah

What new releases are you anticipating this August?

Friday, July 31, 2015

Melody's July 2015 Wrap Up

Currently Binge Watching: MTV's Finding Carter on Hulu

Book Reviews
Note: I just realized it's been a year since I made my We Need Diverse Books pledge! I'm most proud of the Summer Reading Diversity Spotlight!

*** Delicate Monsters by Stephanie Kuehn
* Never Never Part Two of Three by Colleen Hoover & Tarryn Fisher
*** World After by Susan Ee
* Dancing Through Life: Steps of Courage and Conviction by Candace Cameron Bure with Erin Davis
*** More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera
*** Under the Lights by Dahlia Adler
*** Last Will and Testament by Dahlia Adler
*** Every Day by David Levithan
*** Monster by Walter Dean Myers
*** Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick
*** The Living by Matt de la Peña
*** The Heir by Kiera Cass
*** X: A Novel by Ilyasah Shabazz and Kekla Magoon
*** Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews
*** Ask the Passengers by A.S. King
*** Bruiser by Neal Shusterman
*** Prophecy by Ellen Oh
*** Inked by Eric Smith
*** The Ring and the Crown by Melissa de la Cruz

E-book/Book/ARC Haul
* Never Never Part Two of Three by Colleen Hoover and Tarryn Fisher
* Dark Places by Gillian Flynn
* Defining Justice by Jennifer Ellision
* An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir
* Magonia by Maria Dahvana Headley
* Liars, Inc. by Paula Stokes
* The Sky Is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson

Photo Credit: Jordin Althaus/Syfy

Blu-ray, DVD, & TV Reviews
* Documentary Short: Morgan Spurlock's Crafted
* Documentary DVD: The Drop Box
* DVD: Witches of East End: The Complete Season 2
* DVD: Comet Starring Emmy Rossum and Justin Long
* TV: Big Brother 17 Premiere Week
* TV: Face Off Season 9 Premiere "Intergalactic Zoo"

July Notes
* The first month of my Summer Reading Diversity Spotlight Series is going great! I actually shed the spotlight on many of these titles in a recent Top Ten Tuesday, the topic being Ten Books That Celebrate Diversity! Stay tuned for a giveaway as I celebrate making it to the one month mark on spotlighting diverse reads this summer!
* Quiet YA took over Twitter and many book blogs this month, including mine! It was such a pleasure to take part in this!
* I participated in the 7-7-7 writing challenge tag after one of my critique partners, Akshaya tagged me!
* The Creeping by Alexandra Sirowy Excerpt Blog Tour took place this month and I was thrilled to be able to be a part of it! Stay tuned for my book review next month!

My Insane Book & Movie Challenge Update #19
My monthly update for my Insane Book & Movie Challenge is below!


If you'd like to keep track of my reading progress as it happens and reviews as they are posted, feel free to follow me on Goodreads!

Note: I've moved two titles from my "2014" Goodreads list to my "Release Date TBD" list, one title from "2014" to "2016," three titles from "2015" to "2016," and removed one title from my "To Read" list as it is no longer coming out.

Books I Read That Are In My Bookcase
1. Delicate Monsters by Stephanie Kuehn
2. More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera
3. The Heir by Kiera Cass

E-books I Read
Read through Kindle App on iPad
1. Never Never Part Two of Three by Colleen Hoover & Tarryn Fisher
2. World After by Susan Ee
3. Under the Lights by Dahlia Adler (Also own physical copy)
4. Last Will and Testament by Dahlia Adler
5. Every Day by David Levithan (Also own physical copy)
6. Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews
7. Ask the Passengers by A.S. King
8. Bruiser by Neal Shusterman
9. Defining Justice by Jennifer Ellision
10. Prophecy by Ellen Oh
11. Inked by Eric Smith

Audiobooks I Listened To
1. Monster by Walter Dean Myers
2. Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick
3. The Living by Matt de la Peña
4. X: A Novel by Ilyasah Shabazz and Kekla Magoon
5. The Ring and the Crown by Melissa de la Cruz (Also own hardcover copy)

My favorite reads this month were Never Never Part Two of Three by Colleen Hoover & Tarryn Fisher, Every Day by David Levithan, Bruiser by Neal Shusterman, and The Ring and the Crown by Melissa de la Cruz.

Movies & Documentaries

Watched in July 2015
Jurassic World (Movie Theaters)
San Andreas (Movie Theaters)
The Drop Box (DVD)
Big Eyes (Netflix DVD)
Unbroken (Netflix DVD)
Cake (Netflix Streaming)
Parallels (Netflix Streaming)
Before I Disappear (Netflix Streaming)
These Final Hours (Netflix Streaming)

My favorite movie/documentary this month was Jurassic World.

Until next month, happy reading and viewing!

Audiobook Review: The Ring and the Crown by Melissa de la Cruz

This review is part of Melody's Summer Reading: Diversity Spotlight. Enjoy!

The Ring and the Crown by Melissa de la Cruz
Narrated By: Jennifer Ikeda
Release Date: April 1, 2014
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Genre: Young Adult Historical Fiction, Fantasy (Magic), Romance
Running Time: Unabridged | 10 hrs and 23 mins
Source: Free via Summer 2015 Sync Program
Add it to Goodreads

Princess Marie-Victoria, heir to the Lily Throne, and Aelwyn Myrddn, bastard daughter of the Mage of England, grew up together. But who will rule, and who will serve?

Quiet and gentle, Marie has never lived up to the ambitions of her mother, Queen Eleanor the Second, Supreme Ruler of the Franco-British Empire. With the help of her Head Merlin, Emrys, Eleanor has maintained her stranglehold on the world's only source of magic. She rules the most powerful empire the world has ever seen.

But even with the aid of Emrys' magic, Eleanor's extended lifespan is nearing its end. The princess must marry and produce an heir or the Empire will be vulnerable to its greatest enemy, Prussia. The two kingdoms must unite to end the war, and the only solution is a match between Marie and Prince Leopold VII, heir to the Prussian throne. But Marie has always loved Gill, her childhood friend and soldier of the Queen's Guard.

Together, Marie and Aelwyn, a powerful magician in her own right, come up with a plan. Aelwyn will take on Marie's face, allowing the princess to escape with Gill and live the quiet life she's always wanted. And Aelwyn will get what she's always dreamed of--the chance to rule. But the court intrigue and hunger for power in Lenoran England run deeper than anyone could imagine. In the end, there is only rule that matters in Eleanor's court: trust no one.

Wow. Where do I even begin? I am just so taken aback by how much I enjoyed this book. Aside from the magic that I knew this book entailed, this is unlike anything I would have ever picked up own my own without plenty of hesitation. My first choice of something to read is far from historical or romance so to read this, I was completely out of my element. And I am so, so, so, so glad that I stuck with this because it was such a fun and scandalous story!

In The Ring and the Crown, we follow a number of characters in the (alternate history) Franco-British Empire as they come together for a typical season of gatherings, which just so happens to include the latest announcement of marriage in the royal family. I loved the range of characters that we followed both inside the royal family and afar, making their way into the presence of royalty period. That was fascinating within itself the different classes that were represented here, the privilege that was made known. I really loved the world building. That said, I really wanted more magic. More mischief. Here's to hoping there will be more in the sequel. Though the characters got themselves into enough compromising positions to keep me entertained so I can't say that the desire for more magic was overwhelming. It wasn't. Plenty of drama went down. It's like Game of Thrones meets Gossip Girl meets some Keira Knightley historical romance piece meets Big Brother. Manipulation, party of {insert cast number here}, your table is ready! I loved every single minute of this book, oh my goodness.

The characters were so rich and distinct and had so much depth and personality. I thought it would be difficult to keep track of all of the characters but Cruz does a fabulous job at balancing each character, major or minor. Every character has their purpose and it rarely feels like you're trying to keep up with who is who. I also loved the many different relationship dynamics among the characters as well and seeing the different power plays. Woo! Talk about scandals! My oh my.

The Ring and the Crown gives us an entertaining but equally powerful and heartbreaking look at self worth and what it means to abide by as well as go against society's standards in the war for joy. The Ring and the Crown is a mesmerizing story about responsibility to family, to one's country, to one's true self and the sacrifices people make because of duty, because of love, because of hope for freedom and a life without worry. I loved it.

Now I listened to the audiobook (and read along with my own hardcover copy) and was so pleased with the audiobook, oh my goodness. Wow. That was great. I really enjoyed myself. My reading experience would not have been the same, would not have been half as exciting had I not had this audiobook. The narrator brought this story to life in a way I never could have in my head. I tried reading a bit without the audiobook and my imagination failed me. Period pieces are hit or miss for me (alternate history or not) and even though this historical romance had an element of fantasy with the magic, there wasn't a ton of it and at the end of the day, it's still a historical...but in listening to this audiobook, I've come to the conclusion that this is what I need when I read historicals. I need the theatrics.

I can honestly say that I don't think that I would have enjoyed this book as much as I have had I not listened to the audiobook. I would have consumed this in a completely different way and not for the better and I blame my mind for not drowning in the richness of this book own its own. I'm sad that that's the case. I don't know whether to be disappointed in my own mind or accepting of what's always been... my constant disconnect with certain genres. But knowing that I've found a way that I can finally truly enjoy these things that I just could not for the life of me connect with before... it really makes me happy. And I can't wait for the sequel. I can't wait. What an incredible book chock full of surprises and what a lovely ending! I want more and I can't wait until more is available because this right here was fabulous.

The Ring and the Crown by Melissa de la Cruz is available today.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

DVD Review: Sam Esmail's Comet

Release Date: July 28, 2015
Rating: R
Running Time: 91 minutes

Justin Long and Emmy Rossum are star-crossed lovers whose relationship blooms and unravels over the course of six years in this mysterious, dazzlingly original romance.

When a chance encounter brings together the cynical Dell (Long) and the quick-witted Kimberly (Rossum), the stage is set for a tempestuous love affair that unfolds like a puzzle. As the film zigzags back and forth in time from a meteor shower in LA, to an encounter in a Paris hotel room, to a fateful phone call an unforgettable portrait of a relationship emerges.

Sumptuously shot and boasting incredible chemistry between the leads, COMET is a one-of-a-kind cosmic love story.

Interestingly enough, the things that I worried about prior to watching the film, I quickly realized I had no need to worry about while viewing and the elements that I expected to like in this movie I didn't. This is a story about a relationship between a young woman and man and nothing else. I love those kinds of films that don't have any objective but to simply make you a fly on the wall of a relationship. The thing is, these two have totally different perspectives on their relationship. I didn't expect that. I didn't expect them to be on such opposite pages.

This was refreshing to see but I would have welcomed this more had Emmy Rossum's character been more of a solid character and not all over the place. Yes, the film jumps back and forth in time over a six year period and people change but my goodness, if Rossum's character isn't a completely different character every time I see her... I don't think the personality of the character of Kimberly was as fleshed out as it could have been. Kimberly didn't really have much depth, she was transparent and that emptiness really allowed for me to connect way more with Dell than I ever could have with Kimberly.

Before watching, I was more worried about how well executed the non-linear timeline would be. If you're concerned about this element as well, there's no need. I was impressed by how well this was executed, how easy it was to follow, how poetic putting the pieces to this puzzle of a relationship was.

Finally, there's a tiny trippy element to this movie that I can't quite pinpoint and put a name on it but others have said this element falls into the sci-fi genre. Which makes it even more disappointing because I live and breathe sci-fi and this was not it. Why? It, whatever it is, didn't add anything to the story. Nada. Zip. Zero. So overall, I have a great appreciation for how ambitious this film was but in the end, it only really nails the non-linear timeline and everything else needs a lot of work.

I wouldn't necessarily encourage anyone to go out of their way to watch this but if you find yourself with the opportunity to watch Comet on a rainy day, a sick day, a lazy day, go ahead and turn this on. This film was written and directed by Sam Esmail so when you're done watching Comet, for something way more mesmerizing, check out Sam Esmail's Mr. Robot on USA. It's not a love story but it's definitely worth watching if Esmail's work on Comet intrigued you in the least bit.

Unfortunately, there are no Special Features on the DVD.

Own Comet on DVD today.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Book Review: Inked by Eric Smith

This review is part of Melody's Summer Reading: Diversity Spotlight. Enjoy!

Inked by Eric Smith
Release Date: January 20, 2015
Publisher: Bloomsbury Spark
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Source: Bought
Add it to Goodreads

Tattoos once were an act of rebellion. Now they decide your destiny the moment the magical Ink settles under your skin.

And in a world where Ink controls your fate, Caenum can’t escape soon enough. He is ready to run from his family, and his best friend Dreya, and the home he has known, just to have a chance at a choice.

But when he upsets the very Scribe scheduled to give him his Ink on his eighteenth birthday, he unwittingly sets in motion a series of events that sends the corrupt, magic-fearing government, The Citadel, after him and those he loves.

A high-octane fantasy adventure, perfect for anyone who has dreamed of being different… only to discover that fate is more than skin deep.

If you've been following my reviews recently, you know that I'm not a huge fantasy reader. I take many chances and that's what I did here. I found the concept of this to be quite interesting. Not intriguing enough to read as soon as I got it but I felt like I had a really good handle on the world and what to expect before reading and I'm happy to say that the world is basically laid out as I expected. I loved the meaning behind the tattoos and that true definition was literally put on people's skin. This book definitely makes you think twice about what your first or next tattoo will be!

That said, I really wanted more. I wanted more all around. More from the world. I love the character names but I wanted more character depth. Stronger relationship dynamics. More emotional resonance. Maybe a slower pace and more words for more moments. The story starts off strong, has many humorous moments, and I love that there's no shortage of action. That really kept me reading, the story was always in motion which I can't say enough how much I appreciated. Still, I wasn't connected enough to the coming war at hand to really be super excited at every turn, on every page.

So overall, this is a solid, well written fantasy that didn't resonate with me in particular but I'm sure it will for a reader who can wholly connect to all that this book has to offer. As someone who is very hit or miss with fantasy, this for me was a miss but I know it can be a hit with someone else. So while I can't personally recommend this title and then look over your shoulder excitedly as I wait for you to finish reading, I can say it's worth giving a shot if the concept intrigues you!

Inked by Eric Smith is available today.