Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Movie Review: The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones

Title: The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones

Year: 2013

Stars:  Lily Collins, Jamie Campbell Bower, Kevin Zegers, Jemima West, Godfrey Gao, Lena Headey, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Aidan Turner, Robert Sheehan, Kevin Durand, and Jared Harris

Director: Harald Zwart

Writer(s): Jessica Postigo Paquette (screenplay) based on book of same name by Cassandra Clare

Studio: Constantin Film

Distributor: Screen Gems (US), Entertainment One (UK)

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Synopsis: When her mother disappears, Clary Fray learns that she descends from a line of warriors who protect our world from demons. She joins forces with others like her and heads into a dangerous alternate New York called Downworld.

There is a world hidden within our own.

Worlds will collide. 

You have been chosen.

Favorite line:

What I liked: Jamie Campbell Bower's performance as Jace was dead-on perfect. I especially loved the scene where Clary walks in on him at the piano in the library for his facial expressions alone. I also liked how they streamlined the action from the book. What do I mean by that? Well, for example, where in the book Jace and Clary keep bouncing off the Institute as they go from one errand to another, the movie not only tries to get the most of their treks out into the world, but also has Alex and Isabelle come along more often, simultaneously adding fluidity to the narrative while allowing the opportunity for all the characters to have more screen time. In other words, it takes my biggest problems with the book and fixes them. I actually prefer its narrative to that of the book, truth be told.

What I didn't like: The world of the Shadowhunters is pretty complex. There are Shadowhunters who fight demons, and there are Downworlders, commonly referred to as vampires, werewolves, mages, and fairies. There are runes that, when written on the skin of Shadowhunters, imbues them with certain abilities. There's a cup, a sword, and a mirror known as the Mortal Instruments, empowered because of their association with the angel Raziel. The angel Raziel is important because a long time ago, he came down from Heaven, bled into a cup, and offered it to humans who became the first Shadowhunters, granting them Buffy-like powers so they could better fight the demons. Throw in a bunch of personal history affecting the various adults and a villain with a dangerous mix of delusions of power and total paranoia, and its no small wonder what the pacing can come across as a bit staggered.

Overall: Hollywood's gotten crazy lately adapting young adult series for the big screen; already this past year  The Host, Beautiful Creatures, Percy Jackson and the Sea of Monsters, and Warm Bodies have graced our theatres, with The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, Vampire Academy, and Divergent all forthcoming over the next year or so and no doubt dozens more to come after that. I love book adaptations; screenwriters basically take your favourite books, pillage the best parts to bring to life, then twist and restructure making it more suitable for a big screen narrative while throwing in a dash of surprise, whether you've  read the books or not. Mortal Instruments: City of Bones lives up to this tradition and does a fairly good job of it. Yes, its bogged down by trying to explain its own mythology and history, but ultimately, the actors do a terrific job of bringing the characters to life and the action plays out well. I know that the author of the books has a horrible reputation for plagiarism and cyber-bullying, among other things. It's important to remember though that a movie is more than the book it's based on. Where a book is the brainchild of a single individual, a movie is brought to life by the actors, screenwriter, director, and countless crew members. Their work and efforts deserve to be seen and judged for their own merits, without the taint the books incur for their creator's past. 

Would I watch a sequel: Yes, so they had better follow through with its (currently postponed) production!

My rating: ☺☺☺☺/5

It's currently in theatres so I would definitely recommend making the trip to view it.

REVIEW: Maryjanice Davidson's Undead and Unsure

Book: Undead and Unsure

Author: MaryJanice Davidson

Series: Betsy Taylor, Vampire Queen

Publishing stats: August 6th 2013 by Berkley Hardcover

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Cover Blurb: It’s no surprise to Betsy that her trip to Hell with her sister Laura landed them in hot water. Betsy isn’t exactly sorry she killed the Devil but it’s put Laura in a damnable position: assuming the role of Satan (she may not have the training but she looks great in red)—and in charge of billions of souls as she moves up in the world. Or is that down?

But Betsy herself is in an odd new position as well—that of being a responsible monarch suddenly in charge of all things more earth-bound: like her vampire husband Sinclair who has gone from relieved to ecstatic to downright reckless now that he can tolerate sunlight. And if Sinclair isn’t enough to contend with, Betsy’s best friend Jessica is in her sixth (and hopefully last) trimester. Considering she’s been pregnant for eighteen months, she’s become a veritable encyclopedia of what not to expect when you’re expecting. Oh, the horror…

And speaking of growing pains, Betsy and Sinclair’s adopted little BabyJon is finally starting to walk. And if the increasingly unpredictable toddler is anything like his extended family, precisely where he’s headed is anyone’s guess.

First line: “The devil's dead, and the Antichrist is pissed.”

***** If you're behind on the series, below may contain minor spoilers *****

What I liked: Like in the second and eighth books of this series, this book featured a sprinkling of chapters told from a perspective other than Betsy, the regularly scheduled narrator. Not only does this let the reader in on information Betsy wouldn't be privy to, it also allows for other characters to be fleshed out and gives direct insight into their psyches. The treat here was that the character sharing the spotlight with Betsy this time around was none other than Eric Sinclair. It was surprising; I didn't expect the tone his thoughts took, didn't anticipate the emotions driving his actions, and most certainly didn't see that last twist coming until it had run me over and backed up to wham me again. Which, really, is par for the course where Sinclair is concerned.

What I didn't like: This books featured events that are no doubt going to have a huge impact on the future of the series. Unfortunately, they all happen at the end. Until that point it's basically Betsy planning Thanksgiving, Betsy fretting over her relationship with Laura, Jessica being pregnant, Sinclair being in the sun and, oh yeah, Betsy goes to Hell. It's literally the last three chapters that contain all action, so to speak. Don't get me wrong, the lead up is funny as all sin, but it just seems like a splash of ordinary life with OMFGPLOTPOINTS! tacked on the end.

Overall: I love this series; it's quirky, it's funny, it's surprising, it's innocent. No matter how bad things get, they'll always get better. No matter the tragedy, the betrayal, the horror, or the body count, sooner or later it clears up and bright skies shine through. I love the MaryJanice Davidson brand of comedy; her books never fail to have me laughing out loud, be they Betsy, Fred the Mermaid, or Alaskan Royalty. This book was by no means my least favourite (Undead and Unworthy still holds that claim - between a geographically divided cast, psycho Laura, and judgmental werewolves the plot was just too...un-Betsy), but I was disappointment by the pace of events. It was a little like going to a Spiderman movie where Spiderman only gets twenty minutes of air time (Oh, wait, that's happened - thanks a lot Spiderman 2). Point being, it was a good book, funny and with a great ending, but its flow of action left much to be desired.

Would I read this author again: Yes - she's hilarious.

My rating: ☺☺☺/5

To purchase the book for yourself, you can find it at,,, or The Book Depository. Enjoy!

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Top 5 Sundays #42 - Favorite Books Featuring Travel in Some Way!

Sometimes you just need to get away from it all. Unfortunately, when you're a character in a book - especially a book where magic is the norm and fangs commonplace - chances are good that getting away from it all is just going to land you in a whole different kind of trouble and mayhem.

So, without further ado, I present this week's Top 5 - my favourite books featuring travel in some way!

#5 - Michelle Rowen's Blood Bath & Beyond

After having spent all five books of the original series in Toronto, vampire fledgling Sarah Dearly and her boyfriend Thierry kick off the start of their new mystery spin-off series (or would this be a sequel series? O_o) by taking this couple on the road and relocating to the dazzling city life of Las Vegas where, naturally, their bad luck follows.

#4 - Jennifer Estep's By a Thread

After tying up the first major arc of the series, Gin decides to do what every heroine dreams of doing and heads to the seaside for a well-deserved vacation with her boyfriend, sister, and stepbrother. Lucky for Gin, she ends up in a town where her sister's best friend is dating her ex and a power-crazy vampire is up to no good. Definitely one of those instances of good intentions going horribly off track.

#3 -  Ilona Andews' Magic Rises

Yes, this book is still a month and then some away from release but, people, let's think about this for a moment: after five books of Kate and Curran staying within the city limits of a magic-eaten Atlanta, this book will have them setting sail and crossing the ocean to Europe. Are you thinking about it? Yup. Exactly. Need more be said?

#2 - Nalini Singh's Archangel's Kiss

So, while Elena and Raphael are based in New York City, they're both no strangers to travel. This book, however, is the first time they head off somewhere within the timeline of the main story. It starts off in the tropic-like Refuge of the angels - where Elena's period of rest and healing is marred by a would-be assassin stalking the halls - and then takes a trip to the Forbidden City - where you get zombie servants and, say it with me now, a would-be assassin stalking the halls.

#1 - Kresley Cole's A Hunger Like No Other

It begins with Emmaline being taken hostage of a half-crazed Lachlain who has only just gotten free from two centuries of torture. A forced road trip to Scotland ensues, with the narrative taking side-trips to New Orleans every now and then to check in with Emmaline's family, and, after a teleport and some epic battle scenes in Eastern Europe and a near-death experience and a marriage in New Orleans, a Scottish happily ever after ties everything up. Talk about your continent jumping...

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Top 5 Sundays #41 - Best Book Sidekicks!

Ah, sidekicks. They aren't the ones to save the day or get the girl and if a villain targets them it's more because the villain's looking for an indirect strike against the hero than as a proactive move against a real threat. Yup, it's a hard role, that of the sidekick, but also more important than you'd think. After all, When you're not being held captive or threatened, you're supporting the hero (or heroes) in a whole slew of ways, including emotionally, physically, and, yup, even comically. Not everyone can be a sidekick, it takes a special kind of person, one with the sort of personality that can shine through to the bright side even when tied to a chair with a sword blade to their throat.

Which brings us to this week's Top 5 Best Book Sidekicks!

#5 - Finn Lane from The Elemental Assassin series by Jennifer Estep

He's not just Gin's brother, he's her source for all the gossip and cold hard facts she could ever hope for on her targets, a crack shot, and better-than-reliable back-up. Add to that the fact that Finn well and truly understands his sister, that he supports her unconditionally yet isn't afraid to call her on her BS and, really, what more could a first class assassin ask for?

#4 - Ilianna and Tao from The Dark Angels series by Keri Arthur

I could tell you about how this trio has a awesome relationship of many forms; they're business partners in a restaurant, they're roommates, they're friends, they're family. I could tell you about how they have complimentary skill sets and a stronger-than-steel bond. But, really, what makes Ilianna and Tao such great sidekicks is their willingness to have Coca Cola at the ready when Risa returns from a hard day of butt kicking.

#3 - Jess, Marc, Tina, Sinclair, Nick, Antonia, Garrett and more from Betsy Taylor, Vampire Queen series by Maryjanice Davidson

In the beginning, it was just Betsy and her best friend Jess. Then she saved Marc from his almost-suicide. And then she fell in love Sinclair who came as a matched set with his majordomo Tina. And then the werewolves found out about her and sent one of their own, Antonia, as a sort of ambassador-cum-babysitter-cum-spy. And  then Antonia fell in love with Garrett, a slowly recovering vamp savage. And then Jess got together with Nick. And on it went until her house had more in common with the Hotel California than 1313 Mockingbird Lane.

#2 - Cookie from Charley Davidson series by Darynda Jones

Technically, she's Charlie's assistant. And next door neighbour. And best friend. And cheerleader. And fan club president. And alibi. Okay, so the list goes on a bit long. Putting up with a boss/friend/neighbour/so on who is the Grim Reaper and frequently targeted for death is no easy thing, but Cookie pulls it off superbly.

#1 - Pony from Elfhome series by Wen Spencer

When he first pops up in  the first book, he's just a random elf assigned to guard the newly elfin Tinker. By the book's end, however, he's become so much more, willingly binding himself to Tinker in ways that are still being made clear two books later. He's an awesome blend of big brother, best friend, and sexual tension, all wrapped up in a pretty package with a gooey, golden-hearted centre.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

WINNER of Jennifer Estep's Deadly Sting Giveaway REDRAWN!

Unfortunately, May wasn't able to accept the prize and so the winner of the Jennifer Estep contest for a copy of her latest Elemental Assassin installment, Deadly Sting, is going to have to be redrawn. So, without further adieu....

  Van Pham!

Congrats Van! Please send me your snail mail address as soon as possible (you should find a notification e-mail from me in your inbox) so I can pass it along to get your book in the mail as soon as possible.

As for the rest of you, once again, be sure to scoop up your own copy of Deadly Sting posthaste and thanks for participating. I'd also like to extend my gratitude to Ms. Estep for stopping by and taking the time and effort to contribute to Calliope's Domain and its readers, especially at what must be such a busy time for her.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

WINNER of Jennifer Estep Deadly Sting Giveaway

Someone cue the drum roll....

Winner of the Jennifer Estep contest for a copy of her latest Elemental Assassin installment, Deadly Sting, is....DUM DUM DUM


Congrats May! Please send me your snail mail address as soon as possible (you should find a notification e-mail from me in your inbox) so I can pass it along to get your book in the mail as soon as possible.

As for the rest of you, be sure to scoop up your own copy of Deadly Sting posthaste and thanks for participating. I'd also like to extend my gratitude to Ms. Estep for stopping by and taking the time and effort to contribute to Calliope's Domain and its readers, especially at what must be such a busy time for her.

Until next time, my lovelies, read on!

Friday, March 29, 2013

EXCERPT & CONTEST - Jennifer Estep's Deadly Sting!

Alrighty then, boils and ghouls, today we have an extra special treat; Jennifer Estep, author of the Elemental Assassins series, has provided yours truly with an exclusive except from her newest release, Deadly Sting, a great edition to the fast paced, perpetually surprising series about a (semi-retired) assassin trying to get through life in corrupt and morally rotting city. You can read my review of this book, complete with links to purchase it, right here and be sure to scroll down after the excerpt for the contest details!

So, without further ado:

Red is definitely my color. Good thing, because in my line of work, I end up wearing it a lot.

Most people shy away from blood, but for an assassin like me— Gin Blanco, aka the Spider—it’s just part of the job. Still, it would be nice to get a night off, especially when I’m attending the biggest gala event of the summer at Briartop, Ashland’s fanciest art museum. But it’s just not meant to be. For this exhibition of my late nemesis’s priceless possessions is not only the place to be seen, but the place to be robbed and taken hostage at gunpoint as well. No sooner did I get my champagne than a bunch of the unluckiest thieves ever burst into the museum and started looting the place.

Unlucky why? Because I brought along a couple of knives in addition to my killer dress. Add these to my Ice and Stone magic, and nothing makes me happier than showing the bad guys why red really is my color.


A soft, feminine laugh floated through the air, followed by a series of high-pitched giggles. Bria and I looked at each other, then over at Finn. Apparently, all had been forgiven because the two saleswomen had practically draped themselves over him by this point. Red had her hand on one of his shoulders, while Blonde was cozied up on his other side, toying with his jacket sleeve. Finn’s head swiveled back and forth between the two women, as though he was watching an intense tennis match. It was a wonder his neck didn’t break, as fast as he was snapping it from one side to the other.
“Good luck getting those statements,” I murmured.
Bria smiled, showing a hint of teeth. “Oh, luck has nothing to do with it, big sister.”
She strode over and planted herself in front of Finn and his adoring entourage.
“Bria!” he said. “I was just telling these two lovely ladies how brave they were when that terrible dwarf rushed into the store.”
“Of course you were.” Her voice was mild, although she raised her eyebrows at him.
Finn gave her a sheepish grin, but he immediately disentangled himself from the other two women and stepped forward. His sudden movement made the saleswomen teeter in their heels and almost crash into each other, but Finn didn’t care. He leaned down and murmured something in Bria’s ear that caused a fierce blush to bloom in her cheeks. Red and Blonde both frowned, but Bria just smiled at them. They all knew that she had Finn’s full and undivided attention now.
He finally quit whispering to her and straightened up, a teasing grin on his handsome face. Bria stared back at him, her blue eyes warm and soft.
“I’m going to hold you to that,” she murmured. “Tonight.”
Finn’s grin widened.

Jennifer Estep is a New York Times bestselling author, prowling the streets of her imagination in search of her next fantasy idea. Deadly Sting, the eighth book in her Elemental Assassin urban fantasy series, was released on March 26. For more information, visit or follow Jennifer on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

The bad news (because bad news should always be given first - gives the good news the chance to redeem it) is that this contest is unfortunately open to US mailing addresses only - sorry folks!

The good news, however, is that up for grabs is a copy of Deadly Sting and, believe me, you do not want to miss out on this little gem! It's like...imagine James Bond went to a high society event on his day off, but, of course, with this being Bond things go wrong faster than you can blink and next thing you know there are hostages and weapons and death. Well, it's a lot like that but with magic tossed. Now, tell me, how can anyone resist that?! All you have to do is (1) follow Calliope's Domain (links to do so are located on the sidebar) and (2) comment on this post, including your e-mail address in the message and voila! you're in! Normally, contest would close in exactly one week, but I'll be out of town a week from now so I'm going to give this contest TWO weeks. Yup, TWO! Winner will be chosen on Friday, April 12, and I will announce the winner the very next day, Monday, September Saturday, April 13. Good luck!