Author: Melissa Haag
Series: Judgement of the Six, Book 6
Release Date: November 4, 2017
Genre: Fantasy, Paranormal, Romance
My sisters hate their gifts, but they don’t know how lucky they are. They have a home and family. I have nothing. But, I am Courage, and I know my purpose. I exist for one reason only: to complete the Judgement.
Olivia is blind, yet sees. And what she sees, she keeps to herself. Her father conspires for control while Olivia does her own plotting with forces that only she understands. Now, time is running out, and choices that will impact the world must be made.
Okay, so obviously I enjoyed this entire series. (If you haven’t already done so, please read my reviews of the five previously released books in this series.) Melissa Haag delivered a thrilling conclusion to this six part story. (Sur)real is action packed from beginning to end. She changed up her usual format, amping up anticipation by writing from different points of view and alternating those points of view…often. Although primarily told from Olivia’s perspective, reading again from the perspectives of her sister Judgments, as well as some completely new viewpoints, connected me that much more to all of these complex characters.
Olivia’s actions were not predictable to me. Her gift of “sight” and what she was able to see was a foreign concept to me so I had to rely on the writer to really guide me through Olivia’s thought process. Although she is a fellow Judgment, Olivia is unknown to her ‘sisters’ and frankly…everyone, well, apart from The Lady. Olivia’s existence is by far the saddest and loneliest of all the Judgments! Truly heartbreaking, considering none of her ‘sisters’ have known a joyful, carefree life.
I am a sucker for those happy endings, and I won’t deny, this long awaited conclusion didn’t disappoint…however, not everything played out as intended. Changes are inevitable and unpredictable, ominous. “You finish this life as best you can, try to prepare those you love, and wait for the next Judgement. Every end is a new beginning.” -The Taupe Lady-
Title: The Day I Died
**Watty Awards Winner 2014**
Ever plummet at 200km an hour and face plant the ground? Well let me tell you something, it’s way worst than it sounds.
You’re probably wondering how I would know in the first place and if you’re not, well too bad, I’ll telling you anyways. You see, I have a bucket list, filled with exactly 100 things I wanted to do. Thanks to number 81 and a little malfunction that occurred, I maybe, sort of, kind of….died.
Lucky enough, I got a chance to redeem myself, a chance to earn a second life and all I had to do was finish the rest of the list. Sounds easy, right? Wrong, wrong, wrong and wrong. Why? Well, I have deadline.
And all of this madness started yesterday, on the day I died.
I figured since starting a new year always initiates bucket lists and resolutions, why not review a book that highlights these aspirations that so many of us hold? The Day I Died by NeonLights1404 is a Wattpad novel that I read a while ago, but have never forgotten.
Sometimes I struggle with finding something to read that is new and original. On a platform like Wattpad where people are developing their own voice and discovering their writing style, this can be especially hard. NeonLights1404 had one of those original ideas that was still laced with fun cliches. She was able to develop characters that were weirdly unique compared to their seemingly used up physique.
Throughout the book, the main character Ranelle, is fighting against time as she needs to complete her bucket list by the end of the year or risk not returning to her old life. While doing this, some twists come her way as she meets some guys that get the same joy out of doing new things like she does. This leads Ranelle on a path that makes her journey amusing and interesting as she is able to enjoy it with people she grows to love.
Ranelle’s desires for her future become a little muddled as the connection she feels for her new friends cannot be replaced nor would she want to replace these new emotions. This book isn’t about the dependency Ranelle has on other people. No, this book is captivating because it centers around Ranelle’s desire to be her own person and to rule her own life. Her devotion is never something that she has to discover, but is already present in the beginning, which is honestly, very refreshing to a lot of stories I feel are out their today.
NeonLights1404 did a great job with her story line, and conveying the views and emotions of different characters, but I felt the book was lacking in a few areas. Instead of using typical stereotypes, I wish she would have written more originality into her characters. Specifically, infusing the characters Nike and Jordan with more individuality could have made them more important to the story. I would have liked to learn more about their backgrounds and then in turn, could have grown more of a connection with each of them. The lack of some creativity could also be found in the plot. The stage was set with more stereotypes; a high school with her “queen bees” and also the group the main character finds herself with are the “attractive, popular guys that everyone wishes to be or be with”. Overall, I believe if more thought was put into these few areas, the book would have been even better and more original.
First Aired: July 26, 2015- Season One
Genre: Action, Adventure, Drama
The adventures of Superman’s cousin in her own superhero career.
My husband and I binged the first two seasons to bring us current so we could watch on-going episodes with our daughter, Audrey. She really enjoyed the series and between the snippets we caught while she was watching and The CW’s promotional spots we caught, we were intrigued too.
I enjoy many of the characters in this series. Since we also watch all the other DC superhero shows on the CW (Arrow, The Flash, DC’s Legends of Tomorrow), we all feel pretty connected to each of these characters and their cities, villains, and plights. I do appreciate the cross-over events that have aired in the past, they are just too fun.
Supergirl has much of the same feel as The Flash. The story is amusing, but not overly severe and usually incorporates some cheesy element along the way. While I do like Melissa Benoist as Kara Danvers aka Supergirl, for me the supporting cast really holds up the entire show. My favorite of Kara’s friends and ‘all-around good guys’ are Winn and James Olsen. Katie McGrath, who plays Lena Luthor is perfect for this role! Chris Wood who portrays Mon-El is satisfying as a fellow alien (although I thoroughly enjoyed him as the evil big brother in a coven of witches on The Vampire Diaries. One of my very favorite supporting characters in this cast is Calista Flockhart as Cat Grant, chieftain of CatCo Worldwide Media and independent, opinionated, eccentric and tenacious authority. Cat Grant’s dynamic confidence is a drastic contrast to timid Kara Danvers, reporter.
Kara’s sister, Alex, adds an interesting perspective to Supergirl’s story. Human and yet a highly trained agent for the D.E.O., Alex has multiple points in her life that intersect with her little sister, Kara. I really like Alex. She is independent, strong and kicks serious ass! She is pretty, has a super cute haircut (shorter in Season 3, and still adorable) and she gives solid advice and is a great sounding board for Kara. My only problem with Alex was the way her relationship with Maggie played out. The two met while investigating overlapping cases from the Police Department and the D.E.O. They developed a friendship, grew closer and Alex discovered her attraction to another female. There was a brief time of Alex accepting her newly discovered feelings, which felt normal. The two went from a first date to all of a sudden being in a committed relationship, moving in together and hang on…engaged! Wow! Wait! What??? They were ‘so in love’ and yet in almost every episode they were still learning about each other’s past, ideals and feelings. I think what bugged me the most was both Alex and Maggie, who up to this point had been represented as independent, strong, smart and successful women were now acting like immature adolescents, not honestly communicating with their partner in their personal lives. I think the concept of their love story is sweet, but the way it actually played out on screen was annoying! Their interactions felt forced and rushed! Personally, I blame the writers for this blunder. I think they should have given more time for the couple to develop an understanding and build trust between them and then maybe I could have believed it. So, no joking, I was not a fan of the progression of Alex’s on-screen relationship, but the show has since focused in a different direction and I am enjoying it again! Yay!
Title: The Evolution of Mara Dyer
Author: Michelle Hodkin
Series: Mara Dyer Book Two
Release Date: October 23, 2012
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Paranormal, Romance
Mara Dyer knows she isn’t crazy. She knows that she can kill with her mind, and that Noah can heal with his. Mara also knows that somehow, Jude is not a hallucination. He is alive. Unfortunately, convincing her family and doctors that she’s not unstable and doesn’t need to be hospitalised isn’t easy. The only person who actually believes her is Noah. But being with Noah is dangerous and Mara is in constant fear that she might hurt him. She needs to learn how to control her power, and fast! Together, Mara and Noah must try and figure out exactly how Jude survived when the asylum collapsed, and how he knows so much about her strange ability…before anyone else ends up dead!
The Evolution of Mara Dyer is a good continuance to the first book of the series. With more threats of death, and the development of both Mara’s and Noah’s intertwined backstory, the progression of the story sets up even more impending peril that these two protagonists may not be able to make it through.
In the first book, Mara discovers things about herself that changed her life forever. When the second book arises, Mara has to confront these changes, even though she may not know how to handle new truths about herself. Noah takes it upon himself to assist Maya to work through her conflicted feelings and beliefs. He tries to show her that she has to control her fears, no matter how scary the consequences. On the other hand, Mara tries to help Noah with his own self-worth.
Julian provides the major conflict in the story, but forces Mara and Noah to even further confront the deepest of their fears.
The lovable characters that we met in the first book add to the development of this tragedy. Jamie adds much needed humor and makes this overall dark(ish) plot line just a little brighter. Without characters like Jamie and Daniel, the book would be flatter and have less substance as they bring balance to the whole story. I believe that the “minor” and “secondary” characters are more important than some people give them credit for, as they bring details that harmonize and add life to the series as a whole. The Evolution of Mara Dyer is definitely a book that contains amazing characters who directly pertain to the saga. Michelle Hodkin’s writing avoids useless plot holes, making nothing and no one useless.
Title: Bad Boys with Wings
Author: Jojo B (Wattpad=@Jojo_B)
Series: BBWW Sequel 1-Completed April 1, 2017
Status: Completed January 27, 2017
**Watty Awards Winner 2016**
Four bad boys, something definitely different about them. Not only have they started creating a lot of trouble in the area since their arrival, but there’s something more, something inhuman.
Vienna is a girl with issues. Anger finds its way to her quickly, and what’s more is that she always gets the sense she’s being watched.
A story about a difficult girl and four fallen angels, as well as a lot of arson, assault, disaster, drunkenness and a guardian angel?
Bad Boys with Wings turned out differently than I expected from when I began reading. Disclaimer…this story includes more than four bad boys, however the four referred to in the above blurb turned out to be my favorites. Jojo B. scripted an interesting story and created complex characters. Her writing even invoked me to feel defensive on their behalf, multiple times! Some of the injustices afflicted on these ‘bad boys’ continues to fuel my feelings of reproach.
Vienna is complicated girl with a sullen temperament. I appreciated the gains she made through her struggles and dilemmas, but I am a little disappointed that she didn’t emerge with more maturity and insight regarding her future at the conclusion of the story. Vienna’s siblings both feel genuine in their actions and in the dynamics between all the character interactions. Her older sister is dependably a sweetheart and her younger brother’s actions are consistent with other 15 year old adolescents I have known.
Jojo B. weaved together familiar circumstances occurring within a relatable family and their daily routines, but included supernatural interference which helped keep this story from becoming predictable and mundane. The characters were each distinct and throughout the story performed true to their described personalities.
Without giving too much away, the story ended on a positive note, tying up loose ends for an ideal conclusion. I however, actually preferred the alternate ending in an additional chapter titled #The Exorcist. I’ve confessed before that I tend to get emotional which can otherwise be described as being a crybaby. I did shed a few tears in a couple of ending chapters, so that is testament to the attachment I felt for these characters and their story. I think I preferred the alternate ending because it was less cliché, but overall, Bad Boys with Wings was an enjoyable story.
-The Harry Potter Series
-True Reign and Cage of Secrets
Medieval Tuscany, Italy
-The River In Time Series
19th Century England
-The Infernal Devices Series
-Dorothy Must Die Series
-Brave New World
–The Dark Side of The Forest
Author: Melissa Haag
Series: Judgement of the Six, Book 5
Release Date: November 24, 2015
Genre: Fantasy, Paranormal, Romance
I hate. I thought I hated before the letter, before the werewolves, but now I understand that was nothing more than a chip on my shoulder. The urbat took what was mine. They will pay.
Isabelle leads a very normal life…for an emotional syphon. If not for Ethan and his bar, she would have lost her sanity long ago. But everything changes with the crash of her fighting cage and a man who transforms into a wolf. There’s something about Carlos—when he’s not growling at her—that makes her do things she wouldn’t normally do, like sigh and daydream.
Attraction aside, she is faced with the very real evidence that werewolves and urbat exist, and the urbat are after her.And the only way she can keep Ethan safe is to join with the werewolves and Carlos. It’s a race against time to stop a war, fight for love, and find the last Judgement.
The fifth installment of the Judgement of the Six series kicks it up a notch. Isabelle is the fighter of the group, so naturally there is more action in her story. As an emotional siphon, Isabelle considers herself a danger to anyone who is in her close proximity and certainly anyone she physically touches. As the summoned emotions swell inside her, Isabelle uses physical activity like running as a way of expelling the overload of feelings. Sparring is an excellent release, but the superior emotional purge is actual fighting, and she is a beast of an opponent. Her fierce assault serves both her sister Judgements and werewolves alike while she is defending against the Urbat.
Despite unconsciously drawing the emotions of anyone around her, Isabelle has learned to protect her own heart by ironically not allowing herself to acknowledge her own feelings. She is similar to her other Judgement sisters striving to protect others by isolating herself both physically and emotionally, but Isabelle’s segregation is the most extreme. She is somewhat cynical and blunt in her expression. To me, she is a welcome addition to the personalities of the Judgements.
The plot continues to develop throughout this book, however the ending leaves you hanging more than any previous books in this series so far. I am now really ready to read (Sur)Real, the sixth installment and conclusion in this exciting series by Melissa Haag.
Title: Jane the Virgin
Network: The CW
Running: 2014 – Current
Genre: Comedy, Drama
A young, devout Catholic woman discovers that she was accidentally artificially inseminated.
As you can tell, I am a binge watcher, especially when it comes to television series on the CW. Jane the Virgin is another series on the ever growing lists of shows I am currently waiting for to return from its long winter hiatus. I watch Jane the Virgin for the over-dramatic, and romanticized lifestyle of Jane Villanueva.
In season one, we meet the characters that you will either grow to love, hate, or become indifferent to. With Michael’s and Rafael’s love for Jane, a love triangle forms that rocks the boat every chance it gets. I am not typically an admirer of dramatic love triangles, however I was pleased in the way this particular triangle develops, making the turmoil and end results understandable, even if I would not have made the same choices as Jane. Truthfully, this is what I need most out of any narrative. To be able to understand the decisions each character makes so they become more human and you can begin to envision yourself in their shoes.
When season two hits, the story progresses and becomes even more intertwined with double crossing and murder that brings a hysterical hint as it feels very juxtaposed to the love the characters have with one another. Adding in more elements of love, Jane’s choice with how to raise her son, Mateo, the day to day struggles of parenting and the goals she wants to accomplish create a very apparent reality.
Season three takes a break from the love triangle. The characters try to find themselves as tragedy strikes. Learning to deal with the repercussions of their previous actions, the main characters have to live with the heartbreak that loss brings and then how to move forward with the life they intended. Rafael, Jane, and Petra are brought together as these losses brought forth fear in all of them that hadn’t been as present before. I found that this depiction of the fear of failure was very accurate and slowed the show down, a very needed change in pace because in the beginning it was thrust into fast forward.
Over all, Jane the Virgin is a show I would recommend. I enjoy the cheesy narrator, the comedic situations, and all of the lovable characters. This series really embodies the blunders in life (of course with a bit more exaggeration).
Title: A Christmas Carol
Author: Charles Dickens
Release Date: December 19, 1843
Genre: Classic, Fiction, Fantasy, Holiday
“I am the Ghost of Christmas Present,” said the Spirit. “Look upon me!”
The holiday season brings the chance to give, and what better gift is there than one of the most beloved stories in the English language? This year, we at Atria Books are offering a free ebook edition of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, the perfect companion for a cozy night by the fire.
Since its publication in 1843, A Christmas Carol and the miserly Ebenezer Scrooge have become literary classics. Illuminated with practical scholarship and questions for discussion, this edition makes a charming package that includes the facts behind the fiction, as well as the pure joy and magic of this timeless tale about the true meaning of Christmas.
This is one of the rare classic novels on our ‘To Read’ shelf that I was looking forward to reading. This story has been re-told so many times that I felt I already had a pretty good idea of the overall plot and flow. After reading it, yes, my preconceived impression of this classic tale proved to be correct, however, the actual novel by far exceeded my expectations!
Charles Dickens’s original version of this classic tale is superior to many of the other interpretations, including the plethora of movies that have been released since. In this book, I felt so much more connected to Ebenezer Scrooge (I didn’t see that coming). Reading the book specifically from his point of view, intrigued my interest in this familiar story and created a connection between the reader and Mr. Scrooge. My previous impression of Mr. Scrooge, I believe, was very cliche. I viewed him as a grumpy old man, greedy and uncaring. After reading the Ebenezer Scrooge Charles Dickens created, I saw him as more complex man, lonely and entrenched in habit and self-preservation. Scrooge’s loneliness was completely self-imposed, but not necessarily intentional. After understanding more of his history, we realize his frugal ways and cold demeanor is more a result of a defense mechanism he developed from a young age to safeguard his own feelings and person.
My favorite part of the whole book was how genuine Ebenezer’s epiphany transformed the crotchety old grump. After all the ends were tied up and conclusions drawn, I still found myself wanting to read more. It was truly enjoyable to feel the drastic change in Ebenezer’s outlook and I wanted to stay in his ‘happy place’.
Maybe ending the book on such a high note played greatly to my want for a happy ending and in turn elevated my rating of this short holiday tale. The quality of the overall content of the story as a whole, however speaks for itself.
Our little review blog has only been in existence since April of this past year, but I thought it would be fun to recap some of my favorite reviews from the past eight months. Below is my favorite appraisal from each of our “C”ategories.
Click on each picture to read the review.
Admittedly, I definitely didn’t read and review one classic book per month. Can you feel the upcoming New Years Resolution to be declared with this category??? That is decidedly my primary resolution for Casual Narrative’s 2018 blog; I will strive to read and review one classic book per month. Of the sadly few number that I read and reviewed in 2017, my favorite was Jane Austin’s, Pride and Prejudice. This book was my nemesis for several years. It took me three times starting and stopping before getting through the entire thing. It might have found its way to the top of my Classic Reviewed list because Audrey and I read it to each other, aloud, a memorable experience!
Considering how much Audrey and I obviously love Jennifer Anne Davis’ writing, it’s no surprise that the book at the top of my Chronicle list is Rise, Book 1 in the series The Order of the Krigers. Book 3 releases February 1st, 2018 so expect more reviews from me in this fantastical series in the next couple of months!
Rob Thier is an excellent writer I discovered on Wattpad a while ago! I highly recommend reading his stories! Silence is Golden is another quality read in his Storm and Silence Series. I love Miss Lilly Linton’s wit and sarcasm. This is an exciting story based in Old England, but not limited to that continent, and it includes action, humor and romance, some of my favorite genre’s! I am waiting for Sir Rob to complete the forth installment, Silence Breaking, I just can’t be patient enough to begin reading a book unless I know I can quickly finish what I start…
Despite it’s negative point of view, my favorite Codex to write and post, was posted on July 21st, Most Disappointing Book Series. Audrey and I both contributed our opinions to this list, and although many of these books still leave a lingering feeling of let-down, I stand behind our thoughts for each series.
I think I have struggled writing reviews for our TV show category just as much as our Classic Challenge! I can’t explain it just yet, but in the upcoming year, I will also try to put more emphasis on writing reviews of more Current Crusades. My favorite review from this past year was the one I wrote analyzing Alias, but my favorite TV show that I watched, I think was Lucifer. I will add Lucifer to my ‘TO DO’ list of reviews to write in 2018.
Another split on this one…My favorite review to write was from the 1931, Black and White Classic Dracula. Sometimes I worry we appear to basically enjoy most everything we watch and read and this review helps reassure that is most definitely not the case! My favorite movie that we watched and reviewed however, was Pride and Prejudice Zombies! I loved the irony and humor of this spoof take on the romantic classic! It had me laughing most of the time!
Title: Miracle on 34th Street
Rating: Not Rated
Genre: Drama, Comedy, Family
Film Production Studio: 20th Century Fox
Run Time: 1hr 36 min
Starring: Edmund Gwenn, Maureen O’Hara, John Payne
When a nice old man who claims to be Santa Claus is institutionalized as insane, a young lawyer decides to defend him by arguing in court that he is the real thing.
Since it is so close to Christmas, we thought we would spark our holiday spirit by watching a Classic Christmas Movie. After deliberating over a few options, we finally agreed on Miracle on 34th Street, and I can say I was happy with our decision. Of course, holiday movies, and especially the classics, are required to include the child-like quality and cheesiness that viewers expect.
Having watched a lot of Christmas movies over the years, some not so great and others hitting the holiday spirit exactly on point, I know what I was personally looking for; Overall good acting and a good lighthearted story to make me smile. This is exactly what Miracle on 34th Street gave me. The actors each portrayed their character how I wanted to see them represented.
I think Christmas movies have an unspoken criteria of required content.
1.) A skeptic that has taken the logical route
2.) The skeptic’s friend who strives to get them back to believing
3.) The child who pulls at everyone’s heartstrings
4.) And of course, Jolly Old St. Nick
Without each of these elements, how can it even be considered a Christmas movie exactly?
Christmas is a time that usually requires us to be around family and loved ones. Regardless of whether or not you particularly enjoy the converging festivities with all of those family members, there is something special that comes with the craziness of holiday reunions and surrounding yourself with those you love. Miracle on 34th Street, brings this to light in a subtle way that brings life to the characters and situation. It reveals a sense of purpose and an end game spotlighting what people desire-To be with those they care about and those who care about them, inevitably dealing with a few bumps in the road along the way. And maybe also a reminder to open our hearts.
Title: Sugar Babe
Genre: Young Adult, Romance
Ever had Ramen Noodles for an entire month? Lilly Fenster has and she’s tired of it. Which is why she ends up managing the fashion industry’s hottest Brazilian model. Lucky her, right? Not really. Lilly can’t stand the intolerable Joshua Lachowski . Heck, she can’t even pronounce his last name, much less manage his professional life. What happens when the nerd enters the fashion world and meets the biggest jerk imaginable? Mayhem, Ramen Noodles, and love. That’s what.
From beginning to end, Sugar Babe is full of witty remarks and light concepts that are paired with deeper meanings which make this an enjoyable book. The expression and personality that WeAreAHurricane brings to the story elevates the characters and makes the story more unique than one may first think.
The main character, Lilly, is full of life as she is determined to get through her employed stint with a major fashion business. Of course, with any romance oriented book, drama flows left and right. Could it even be considered a romance book if a new element wasn’t added at every opportunity? I will be the first to admit, Sugar Babe does not seem all that unique from a lot of books out there, but the individual characters make it a worth while read. Lilly possesses some attributes that I would like to possess myself, but like the rest of us, she has her own flaws and stereotypes to overcome. This creates a connection as her character flaws make her more human and relatable.
The plot as a whole is entertaining. The superficiality and over-the-top-drama that WeAreAHurricane uses to bolster the plot and personalities, at times may go a little too over the top, but not so far out there to ruin the overall story. Lilly and Joshua find themselves in a number of situations where, as a reader, I felt it lost a realistic flow. Fortunately, these situations didn’t derail the progress of the story as the author brought it right back on track to maintain Sugar Babe’s personality and yet still keep it engaging and different from the rest.
This is a shorter review, I know, but what can I say? Sometimes everything that needs to be said can be done in fewer words and not drawn out into long essays that no one really wants to read anyways.