White Trash Warlock Review (#BlogTour)

White Trash Warlock Review (#BlogTour)

By David R. Slayton

Publisher: Blackstone Publishing

Print Length: 320 pages

Release Year: 2020

Genre: LGBT Urban-Fantasy

Avg. Goodreads Rating: 4.12

Available on Amazon and B&N

Guthrie was a good place to be from, but it wasn’t a great place to live, not when you were like Adam, in all the ways Adam was like Adam.

Adam Binder hasn’t spoken to his brother in years, not since Bobby had him committed to a psych ward for hearing voices. When a murderous spirit possesses Bobby’s wife and disrupts the perfect life he’s built away from Oklahoma, he’s forced to ask for his little brother’s help. Adam is happy to escape the trailer park and get the chance to say I told you so, but he arrives in Denver to find the local magicians dead.

It isn’t long before Adam is the spirit’s next target. To survive the confrontation, he’ll have to risk bargaining with powers he’d rather avoid, including his first love, the elf who broke his heart.

The Binder brothers don’t realize that they’re unwitting pawns in a game played by immortals. Death herself wants the spirit’s head, and she’s willing to destroy their family to reap it. (Goodreads)

Special thanks to theWriteReads for giving me the opportunity to participate in this tour and to the author for providing me with a copy of the book!

White Trash Warlock is an exceptional small book that packs a major punch. While it may not look as large and intimidating as many of its SFF cousins, it’s stuffed with enough charm and character to rival even the thickest of tomes. 

Boasting an alarmingly vast world with a complete magic system and the sociopolitical dynamic between the witches and the unseen world. White Trash Warlock manages to cram so many ideas together in a coherent fashion. The writing is easy to follow and simplistic in its approach to illustrating the story. The author does take some creative liberties, utilizing descriptions unique to himself. The reading experience of this book is exciting, well-paced and fresh, making it one of those hard-to-put-down volumes. 

The story explores a wealth of themes ranging from otherness to loss. With well fleshed out characters, the themes are thoroughly examined from multiple angles as well as through the characters realistic thoughts, actions and reactions. For me, as a witchy homosexual with questionable family relations, I was pleasantly surprised with how deeply I related to the protagonist Adam. All the characters are quite exceptional though, even outside their role in the story. 

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and fully intend on continuing with the series. For fans of SFF who want a lighter read that still packs a punch, this book is for you.

Subjective Rating

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Objective Rating

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Final Rating

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Love Death + Robots Season 1 Review

Love Death + Robots Season 1 Review

Currently streaming on Netflix. Rated TV-MA.

Love Death + Robots is an impressively made anthology series full of romance, violence, and robots (of course!). This series is hilarious and dark with stories that range from yoghurt taking over the world to a sexual assault survivor getting their revenge in the goriest way possible. Using a variety of animation techniques throughout its 18 episodes, viewers are treated to a masterclass on the craft. There were times I would replay scenes just to admire the amazing feats of animation. 

My only complaint about this series is that some of the writing tended to fall short. This seems to always be a potential issue with short-form writing of any kind, but especially screenwriting. It wasn’t so bad that I felt the need to finish watching the show altogether, but bad enough to where I often found myself ignoring the story and focusing on the animation. I dearly hope that the second season features more well-rounded pieces. 

This is not really a show you watch with your mom, nor is it a show for the faint of heart. But if you’re a fan of science-fiction, fantasy, comedy and raunchy romance, there is something here for you.

Subjective Rating

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Objective Rating

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Final Rating

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Steelheart Review

Steelheart Review

By Brandon Sanderson

Publisher: Delacorte Press

Print Length: 386 pages

Release Year: 2003

Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Fantasy

Avg. Goodreads Rating: 4.13

Available on Amazon and B&N

Ten years ago, Calamity came. It was a burst in the sky that gave ordinary men and women extraordinary powers. The awed public started calling them Epics. But Epics are no friend of man. With incredible gifts came the desire to rule. And to rule man you must crush his will.

Nobody fights the Epics…nobody but the Reckoners. A shadowy group of ordinary humans, they spend their lives studying Epics, finding their weaknesses, and then assassinating them.

And David wants in. He wants Steelheart — the Epic who is said to be invincible. The Epic who killed David’s father. For years, like the Reckoners, David’s been studying, and planning — and he has something they need. Not an object, but an experience.
He’s seen Steelheart bleed. And he wants revenge. (Goodreads)

It only took one book for Brandon Sanderson to make it on my favourite authors list. Now, it is my goal to read every book he’s ever written. While I’m very excited to start reading the Mistborn series, I decided to start with The Reckoner’s trilogy, due to my being able to require the first book, Steelheart, for only a dollar. I had high expectations going into this book, and gods bless Brandon Sanderson for delivering! 

Steelheart presents an interesting view of the superhero genre playing on the idea that “absolute power absolutely corrupts.” Sanderson takes this idea and just goes for it full force, introducing us to a unique world where those with powers are exclusively villainous. For modern-day readers, this series is a lot The Boys in its depiction of a corrupt superpowered society and the anti-hero vigilantes that seek to change it. This unexpected take, along with the plethora of twist woven throughout, makes this one of the best YA superpower stories I’ve ever read. 

I’ve grown to expect Sanderson to do the unexpected and this book didn’t fail me. Sanderson is great at making everything go wrong for our characters, forcing them to rely on their own abilities to get them out of certain situations. This often leads to near-death experiences because no person is capable of succeeding at everything. These catastrophic character failures are what made me fall in love with Sanderson’s writing. He does the unexpected, and he always manages to catch me off guard. You won’t find much– if any– dues ex machina here.
This being only the second book I’ve read by Sanderson, I don’t really have the best frame of reference to compare it to. The other book I read, Skyward, is his most recent foray into the Young Adult category. Skyward is absolutely exceptional, one of the best YA science-fiction books I’ve ever read. Steelheart, having been written almost 20 years ago is only proof to me that Sanderson is one of the best writers of our time. I have a feeling this wasn’t his best work, and if I’m right I don’t know how I’m going to handle the greatness that I’ve yet to discover.

Subjective Rating

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Objective Rating

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Final Rating

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Push (2009) Review

Push (2009) Review

Directed by: Paul McGuigan

Written by: David Bourla

Starring: Camilla Belle, Dakota Fanning, Chris Evans

Rated: PG-13

Run-Time: 1h 51m

Genre: Science-Fiction Thriller

Rotten Tomatoes: 23%

Availability: Hulu

Two young Americans with special abilities must race to find a girl in Hong Kong before a shadowy government organization called the Division does. (IMDb)

While idly searching through Hulu I came across this film and almost immediately remembered watching it many times over when I was younger. It has been many years since I’ve seen, but I remembered it fondly. After re-watching it recently I had one of those moments where I look back at younger me and wonder what the heck was going on?

This film definitely takes a stylistic approach to its cinematography that works in its favour. Through camera work and editing, the tone of the film is established early on, and the intention of the film is evident. You can see what they were trying to do, which is part of what makes it so sad that they struggle to follow through. For me, this was the primary aspect of the film that allowed me to sit through it in its entirety. With lacklustre acting and poor writing, this film heavily relies on its cinematography. 

The writing in this film is not entirely horrendous but is nowhere near good. The film is a mish-mash of ideas that are related enough that they could be done together but only with the right writers up to the task. The concept is great, but heartbreakingly poorly executed. 

The thing that really tanks this film for me is the fact that it doesn’t feel done. And it doesn’t feel done because it isn’t. You can blatantly tell there were intentions on making a sequel that never came into fruition. Sadly, the creators relied too heavily on the thought that this film would be a success; this choice actually playing a huge roll in the film failing. At the end of the film, you’re left with so many loose ends that you can’t even say the film has a proper ending. At best, we just got the first half of a painstakingly long film. 

While this film is watchable I think there are better ways to spend your time. If you are a fan of the comics from which it is based, I would probably stick to the reading.

Subjective Rating

Rating: 1.5 out of 5.

Objective Rating

Rating: 1 out of 5.

Final Rating

Rating: 1.5 out of 5.

Because This is My First Life Review

Because This is My First Life Review

Now streaming on Netflix. Rated TV-14.

This k-drama was highly recommended to me by a close friend, and as a huge fan of k-drama, of course, I pushed it all the way to the top of my watchlist. And– thankfully this has become a trend– I did not regret it. Why would I though? Korea has drama mastered!

The acting in k-dramas is not often highlight due to the result of the actors often having to take on a more over-the-top persona. While this drama is not a complete expectation with its own fair amount of over-the-top scenes, but it also is full of moments where the actors take the opportunity to show off their acting chops. There were scenes in which the acting had me absolutely blown away. There are scenes with subtle details, such as a character keeping a straight face while you see their eyes watering, conveying a depth of emotion we rarely see. If you can’t already tell, I was extremely impressed by this.

This show definitely was traditional in its proclivity to have non-stop drama. This is one of those shows that rarely gives you break with drama waiting for you around every corner. That combined with the extremely slow-burn romance makes this show extremely addictive. You start to crave those moments of solace, only for them to be taken away by the end of the episode. This achieves exactly what it’s intended to, cause what do you do then? You watch the next episode! (Seriously, so many k-dramas are like this, thank god they usually are only one or two seasons.)

This is one of those shows who has a bit of something for everyone. Of course, if you’re not a fan of dramas, you may be the exception to this, but I would still recommend giving this show a try. It’s full of laugh-out-loud moments, heart-wrenching, and swoon-worthy moments. Fair warning though: you might want to throw your computer or remote out the window at some point.

Subjective Rating

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Objective Rating

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Final Rating

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Lovelink: Chapters of Love Review

Developer: Ludia

Age Rating: 17+

Size: 112.2

Price Range: Free (with in-app purchases)

Available on iOS and Android

I usually don’t play games like this, but lately, I’ve been finding myself drawn to story-heavy games. I’m extremely picky about the games I play. The art has to be on point, the gameplay casual (since I usually multitask), and a reasonable, if not nonexistent, paywall. The last of which I realize some people can’t relate to, which I totally understand. Games can get expensive fast, always beware of the amount you spend if you decide to do so. 

Anyway, back to this game… Well, I guess since we’re on the topic of money I’m going to have to break it to you: this app is one of those that can get expensive quickly. So far I’ve only managed to spend about 10 dollars, and that’s where my spending is going to end. It is entirely possible to play without spending any money, but the wait time to gather enough currency to make the premium choices is excruciatingly long. It may take a week or more to collect enough points. For many, this could be or is a total deal-breaker. If it is, I don’t blame you and I honestly would recommend you stay away from this game. 

Now, if a little investment doesn’t bother you, the app has had some pretty good deals for new players. If you take your time with the game, you can probably play pretty comfortably with the paywall anyway. It really depends on the type of player you are. 

The game boasts some pretty exceptional art. And unlike some similar apps I’ve tried out the art is consistent throughout. If you already have a tendency to simp for 2D characters, let me tell you that this game will not help with that at all. They do not hold back and the sheer amount of beautiful characters to choose from is sometimes overwhelming. Additionally, each character includes unique storylines and depending on the decisions you make the romance could be never-ending! And whatever preferences you have, this app got you. Trust me. 

As a queer woman, I’m glad to say this game is incredibly inclusive. It’s so refreshing to have a game that doesn’t force you to court a person you likely wouldn’t in real life (in my case a man). While most of these games are targeted towards straight women, having an option for members of the alphabet soup gang is practically revolutionary.

If you’re willing to part with some money, this game is totally for you. If you need a little romance in your life this game is definitely for you. Give it a go! Just beware, it’s just as addicting as real-life online dating can be.

Subjective Rating

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Objective Rating

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Final Rating

Rating: 4 out of 5.

A Court of Frost and Starlight Review

A Court of Frost and Starlight Review

By Sarah J. Maas

Publisher: Bloomsbury YA

Print Length: 272 pages

Release Year: 2018

Genre: Young Adult Fantasy

Avg. Goodreads Rating: 3.88

Available on Amazon and B&N

Hope warms the coldest night.

Feyre, Rhys, and their close-knit circle of friends are still busy rebuilding the Night Court and the vastly-changed world beyond. But Winter Solstice is finally near, and with it, a hard-earned reprieve.

Yet even the festive atmosphere can’t keep the shadows of the past from looming. As Feyre navigates her first Winter Solstice as High Lady, she finds that those dearest to her have more wounds than she anticipated–scars that will have far-reaching impact on the future of their Court. (Goodreads)

As you already know from my reviews on the previous instalments of this series, I am a big fan of A Court of Thorns and Roses. It goes without saying how happy I was to finally get a chance to pick up this book… too bad it did not live up to its predecessors. 

A Court of Frost and Starlight is effectively an ACOTAR Christmas special that just so happens to also happens to give us a glimpse of the war’s aftermath. Now, I have to give Maas, some credit for some of the themes she included regarding that subplot, but not much more. While she included very real aspects of post-war life, the way they were handled was… not that realistic. Yes, this is a fantasy series, but that doesn’t necessarily excuse the sort of detached feeling I got from this book. Of course, I am taking into consideration the disassociation that often follows those who have fought in a war, but this just wasn’t it. 

The only aspect of this book that truly shines is the deeper look into the found-family relationship between the inner circle. If you take out the post-war aspect of this story, its a mostly heart-warming tale of a family during holidays. The sections that focused solely on this is what made the book bearable for me, as it managed to cheer me up during our not-so-typical holiday season. And while the character has always been just as important as the plot in these stories, this one, in particular, took a lot of time to look at each character individually and give us insight on who they are and how they think without the shroud of intense hardship. We get a glimpse into seemingly everyday life, which in these times we sort of need. 
I didn’t enjoy this book as much as I had hoped to, but it did manage to make my holiday season a little better. And I might as well admit it is what I needed to hold me over until the much-awaited release of A Court of Silver Flames. This is not a necessary read, and I won’t judge anyone who decides to skip it. But, in saying that, it’s not worthless either.

Subjective Rating

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Objective Rating

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Final Rating

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

The Perfect Date (2019) Review

The Perfect Date (2019) Review

Directed by Chris Nelson

Starring: Noah Centineo, Laura Marano, Camila Mendes

Rating: TV-14

Run-Time: 1h 30m

Genre: Romantic Comedy

Rotten Tomatoes: 69%

Availability: Netflix

Need a last-minute knight in shining armor? A plus-one Prince Charming? To make his dream come true, he’ll be anyone– except himself. (Netflix)

This is a fun film. I really do enjoy it at its face value. It’s definately a good movie to watch when you don’t want to think too hard, which though some people consider this a bad thing I think it’s a good thing because that’s the whole purpose of movies in the first place. Isn’t it?

My main issues with the movie have to do with the tertiary characters. There were definately moments where you could tell that the actor was reciting lines, or maybe even reading lines shown to them from off screen. Some background actors blessed with lines obviously didn’t know what they were doing becuase you could tell they were trying to act a certain way. Technically-wise this was the films only true downfall. Its cinematography was okay and got the point across. You honestly can’t expect anything groundbreaking from a teen rom-com.

My second main issue was the predictability of the story. Of course, the main love interest would be your not-so-average girl who rather goes to a cafe-bookstore than a shool dance (which, same to be honest). Of course, the main guy would fall into insta-love with a random girl he doesn’t know. And, of course, the rando-rich-girl will be stuck up and break up with him for some petty bullshit. 

This is a mediocre film at best, and it’s definitely a fun friday-night movie to watch or put on in the background as you eat, but it’s not going to become a classic.

Subjective Rating

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Objective Rating

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Final Rating

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Flavors of Youth (2018) Review

Flavors of Youth (2018) Review

Directed by: Haoling Li, Yoshitaka Takeuch, Xiaoxing Yi

Written by: Tyler Rhoads (English translation)

Starring: George Ackles, Taito Ban, Dorothy Elias-Fahn (English Dub)

Rated: TV-PG

Run-Time: 1h 14min

Genre: Amination, Drama

Rotten Tomatoes: 80%

Availability: Netflix

Three different stories of youth set in different cities of China. (IMDb)

This one of those films that regularly finds itself in my Netflix recommendations. I know that I would eventually breakdown and watch it… and I was surprised when I finally did. Sadly, not in a good way. 

This film is a collection of short films, three to be exact. All follow themes relating to growing up/ The stories themselves are the true highlight as they are relatable and heartwarming. The first, “The Rice Noodles” is probably the best overall with its tearjerking storyline. “A Little Fashion Show” falls short as a result of a lack of nuance. Conflict in this particular story felt forced and characters reacted unnaturally. “Love in Shanghai,” the final story, manages to land somewhere in the middle with a common story of young love that unfolds just as you’d expect it to. There is an end credit scene as well, but it does little more than show the geographic relationship of the stories. 

With such lacklustre storytelling, you would hope it would at least be paired with stunning animation. Sadly, this film fails to deliver yet again.. The animation is disappointingly average, honestly barely so at times. The only noteworthy scene is at the beginning of “The Rice Noodles” depicting the titular noodles being prepared. Otherwise, there isn’t anything that sets this film apart from those like it. 

In the end, this film just felt like a waste of time. So little about it is memorable, I’m sure there are similar pieces that achieve what this film set out to but with much more… elegance.

Subjective Rating

Rating: 2 out of 5.

Objective Rating

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Final Rating

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Forest of Souls Review

Forest of Souls Review

By Lori M. Lee

Publisher: Page Street Kids

Print Length: 400 pages

Release Year: 2020

Genre: Young Adult Fantasy

Avg. Goodreads Rating: 3.69

Available on Amazon and B&N

Sirscha Ashwyn comes from nothing, but she’s intent on becoming something. After years of training to become the queen’s next royal spy, her plans are derailed when shamans attack and kill her best friend Saengo.

And then Sirscha, somehow, restores Saengo to life.

Unveiled as the first soulguide in living memory, Sirscha is summoned to the domain of the Spider King. For centuries, he has used his influence over the Dead Wood—an ancient forest possessed by souls—to enforce peace between the kingdoms. Now, with the trees growing wild and untamed, only a soulguide can restrain them. As war looms, Sirscha must master her newly awakened abilities before the trees shatter the brittle peace, or worse, claim Saengo, the friend she would die for. (Goodreads)

Forest of Souls was one of my most anticipated releases of 2020. I was so excited when I finally got my hands on it that I had to force myself to slow down a bit. I’m trying to spend a longer time in books like this because I want to really take my time to contemplate and savour the story. While the story was fast-paced, throwing you into the action immediately, I managed to slow my reading pace comfortably. Lee does an amazing job of showing rather than telling, so whenever I set the book down I had plenty to think about. Regardless of the fact that I came to the same conclusions as our protagonist as quickly as she did, it allowed me to explore aspects of the story that the author set aside. This only adds to my excitement for the upcoming sequel Spider’s Web, because I want to see how these concepts are brought into fruition. 

The magic system definitely gave me similar vibes to Leigh Bardugo’s Grishaverse, and the aesthetic of this world definitely felt influenced series like The Untamed. The lore of this world felt well-developed and even though we only view the world through a single character’s eyes, I definitely felt like we were provided with more than sufficient world-building. 

My favourite part of this book was the characters. Forest of Souls includes a beautiful sisterly-friendship between the protagonist Sirscha and her familiar Saengo. Lee does an amazing job portraying the platonic love between the two girls, and how their situation affects them not only as individuals but as partners. The lack of romance in this book is refreshing, but not entirely not existent, as there is definitely foundation laid down for it. Whatever the author ultimately decides, I can only imagine it being executed well, as her ability to set up characters and their relationships are definitely above average.

Subjective Rating

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Objective Rating

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Final Rating

Rating: 4 out of 5.