Monday, 21 December 2015

ARC Review: See How They Run by Ally Carter



Author: Ally Carter
Expected Publication Date: December 21st, 2015
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Received from: publisher

Synopsis (from Goodreads):

Inside every secret, there's a world of trouble. Get ready for the second book in this new series of global proportions--from master of intrigue, New York Times bestselling author Ally Carter. 

Grace's past has come back to hunt her . . . and if she doesn't stop it, Grace isn't the only one who will get hurt. Because on Embassy Row, the countries of the world stand like dominoes, and one wrong move can make them all fall down. 

The twists get twistier and the turns get even more shocking in the second thrilling installment of Embassy Row.

***

WOW! This book comes out tomorrow, and I can tell you-- it's better than the last one! Ally Carter has done it again!

We saw how they fell, and now we see them run...

Grace's life has been in turmoil ever since her mother died three years before, but after learning the truth about her mother's death she realizes that she's barely scratched the surface of the woman she loved. Now Grace's on a path of new self discovery- one deadlier than before. And this time, she can't turn back and forget.

Honestly, the first one was good- the plot line was unique, her character development was phenomenal. Carter really has come a long way from her Gallagher Girl days (but I'm not hating- I LOVE those books till this day). However, after the emotionally driven first book, this book gives way for a whole new level of amazingness. 

Grace's story started off trying to figure out who killed her mom, and she realizes that finding the killer isn't the hardest part after all- it's the fall out. What I love about this book is that it delves into all the secrets hinted in the first book, and executes it wonderfully. We are fully enwrapped in Grace's psyche, and are taken on a journey in search for the truth- and this time, a bigger truth than she ever expected.

I got a bit of Maggie Hall, Conspiracy of Us vibe after this book, but I can't help but think of a better way to drive it into this cliff hanger at the end of this book. I'm a little upset, knowing that I have to wait a LONG, LONG TIME for the next book, but seriously, the feels fest at the end of the novel is worth EVERYTHING.

EVERYTHING! 

Tuesday, 15 December 2015

#TBTBSanta Opening


OH YEAH! So I just got my #TBTBSanta gift from Kathy from A Glass of Wine, and I am loving it!

What I got:
  • Never, Never by Brianna R. Shrum
  • A Starbucks giftcard
  • A cute, Frankenstein bookmark
  • Chocolateeeeeeeeeeeeeeee
Honestly, this package made my day. I totally recommend joining The Broke and Bookish's Secret Santa next year! Check out the blog here.

Tuesday Talks (#9): What to do When You're Out of the Loop


Hello everyone! Happy Tuesday! If you follow me on Twitter and Instagram (@missyallydums97), you'll know I received my #TBTBSanta present recently. I'd like to thank Kathy from A Glass of Wine for the present, and please check out her blog here. She reviews books from all genres and categories, so go check her out. 

Also, for #TBTBSanta, I got Emilie from Emilie Book World, and you can check out her blog here. She's a fan of contemporary and romance, so if you have any recs, please tell her! I don't read much in that genre, and felt bad I had nothing to recommend. 

Alrighty, so back to the actual blog post...

It's Christmas break, and I bet a lot of you guys are just settling back into life, and realizing hey, I should probably catch up on reading and/or blogging. And the minute you do, you realize that months have passed, and all the things that you were excited to start reading or blogging about have passed, and that there's a new book/trend that everyone's blogging/talking about.

And it sucks. And now you don't know what to do to get back in the loop.

I totally understand that problem. I'm experiencing it right now, but I do have a couple tricks to get back into that loop:

1. Firstly, I would recommend reading once again: both books and other blogs. Make a dent in your TBR pile, and check out some other bloggers' blogs to get a feel as to what everyone's been up to, and also, leave a nice comment- because reading someone's blog and leaving nice comments are always an easy thing to do, and an easy gift to give this holiday season

2. Another thing I would recommend is go back on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram- all that jazz. It can be a little overwhelming at times, seeing everything being posted at once (well, in Twitter's case), but its a faster way to learn what's going on- but, regardless, #1 is a nice thing to do. However, going on social media is an easier way to reach out to not only your fellow bloggers, but authors as well.

3. Just log in every day. Just once everyday, log in for at least 30 minutes, see what's going on in the blogosphere, and then proceed with the rest of your day.

Okay, so that's it for me this Tuesday. I'm going to go do some practice driving tests before reading for the rest of the night!

Monday, 14 December 2015

Monday Musings (#6): Looking Back


It has been a really long time since I was last able to just sit down, read, write, and of course blog

I was able to post one review up that is late, and now I'm catching up to post the reviews of ARCs I received awhile back. I'm not joking you: university ruins everything- from your sleeping schedule, social life, and your priorities.

ANYWAYS, as I posted my review for today, I found a couple of old posts from last year- including my fan cast for a WiP that I haven't touched in a VERY, VERY, VERY long time (you can check out the post here if you're curious).

Looking back at the post not only made me remember my love for the concept/story, but inspired me to get back into writing. Of course, I was cringing a bit when I read the post, because I can remember some of the terrible plot points I came up with, but at the same time, it's also given me some inspiration.

See? Sometimes, looking back, no matter how much it makes us cringe, can inspire and motivate us to do something with our lives. And in this case, it reminded me how much I loved writing and coming up with stories, and now I'm really motivated to go back and write this story.

Review: A Gift of Poison by Kate Avery Ellison



Author: Kate Avery Ellison
Publication date: October 12th 2014
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Received from: Xpresso Book Tours

Synopsis:
As the orphaned niece of a cruel lord, Briand is the scapegoat of the castle. She has few friends and even fewer options, and every day is a struggle to stay ahead of trouble caused by malicious guards and irritable castle servants.

Briand is set to be banished to the wildlands, a death sentence, when she accidentally unlocks a hidden power and involves herself in a rebel plot and her life abruptly changes.

Imprisoned in the company of a band of rebels, Briand must do what seems impossible: call up sleeping dragons in the north. But the fearsome Prince’s assassins called Seekers are looking for her, Briand doesn’t know if she can trust the mysterious, enigmatic rebel leader Kael, and there might be a traitor in the rebels’ midst.

*****

I was supposed to have this review up by December 4th... it's the 14th- OOPS. In my defence, I finished the book before that, but finals and exams ruined my entire sleeping, reading and eating schedule indefinitely, and I'm just getting my life together.

The story was good for the most part. I think the highlight for me was Briand's character. She was likeable,  but wasn't entirely terrible. At times, she was a bit annoying for me (but I think I was more annoyed with her situation more than anything), but in the end she wasn't a terrible protagonist.

I have never read any stories by Ellison, and in all honesty, this book was okay, but not AMAZING. The synopsis sounds intriguing, but I felt like the characters just hated her for no reason. Like the ending seemed rushed to me, and even in the end, they didn't seem to appreciate Briand's character and her perseverance. 

Overall, the book was okay. It mostly hit all the points it needed too, despite it's rushed ending. I don't really know if I'll read any of Ellison's books after this, but I might. Despite everything, I still finished the book, which is a good sign, and I kept going to see how everything would play out.


Tuesday, 1 December 2015

RTA 103: Final Motion Graphics Assignment

Alas, I have come to the end of the semester, and I do admit that I am going to miss this class very much. I never thought I'd find myself enjoying Digital Media (despite the stress), and I am contemplating on taking some Digital Media courses in the future.

For my final motion graphics assignment, I decided to do a small trailer for the Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. The symbolism behind the trailer is explained on my artist statement here, and you can also check out my book review for it here as well.

Enjoy!


Friday, 20 November 2015

RTA 103: Farewell, but not Goodbye- to this course, not my blog, fear not my readers!

This is the end... hold your breath and count to ten.... 

Sorry, but I just felt like it was right to quote some Adele since her album just released today. But seriously, its the end, but its not goodbye. Honestly, when I first went to the lecture and the lab, I was expecting that I would be screwed. I was never the best when it came to creating things on photoshop or on the computer in general, but this class was pretty awesome. Laurie was very enthusiastic about what she was talking about, and I actually found myself interesting in what we were learning. And David was cool, and dealt with my crap, so like that's when you know you're amazing.

I became confident in my skills in the software, but I know I have a long way to go. Originally, the plan for me was to go into Television here, but because of this course, I'm contemplating on taking some Digital Media courses next year. I learned a lot, and I think one thing the most important thing that I learned was not to play safe. You'll never know your real potential if you don't play around with After Effects.

I'll miss this class, most definitely, but I learned a lot that I'll never forget.

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Reviews to come soon! But checkout my Wattpad!

If you've been following me on Twitter, you probably know that I did try doing NaNoWriMo this year, but like all the other years, that plan fell apart.

It's not because I gave up (actually, maybe I did), but it's mostly due to the fact that university, work, and trying to have a social life is just preventing me to write proper stories like I use to. So, I decided to dig up my old Wattpad, and share with you guys some short stories that I wrote.

Unlike before, I didn't delete my account and start from scratch- I just updated a few things on my Wattpad, so it looks more presentable. I strongly encourage you all to check out my stories, and give me feedback!

Also, I have been reading again, so reviews will be up VERY soon! I'm just in between deadlines where everything is due soon, but it's not close enough that I have to start panicking (or maybe I am, and I'm just not paying attention to my schedule properly).

Once again,  PLEASE check out my Wattpad, and also, what do you think about my new social media icons? Pretty right? I found this website that gives out nice media icons, and she also has premade templates for both Blogger and Wordpress, and also does web designs- I'll link everything below!

I hope you all had an amazing Wednesday!

Wattpad: https://www.wattpad.com/user/Wordless_Wonder
Social Media Icons: http://www.carrieloves.com/2012/12/free-social-media-icons-updated/

Friday, 13 November 2015

RTA 103: Artist Statement

For my motion graphic's assignment, I decided to create a small little trailer for The Night Circus by Erin Morgernstern. I absolutely loved the book and was really excited to create a small 10 second trailer for it, but then I remembered: it's not the easiest novel to grasp, and most people give up on the novel in the beginning because of its complexity and metaphors.

I decided to use themes and motifs from the original story in the motion graphics: I made the colour scheme of the motion graphics the same on as the book- black and white. I focused the trailer on the main character, Celia's eyes. She opens them to signify her seeing what she's done, and the black bars that appear represent the circus and her being part of it/feeling imprisoned by it.

RTA 103: After Effects




For this final assignment, I changed my idea twice.

Originally, I decided to create a book trailer for a story I'm writing entitled The Kensington Project. However, due to time constraints, I realized that I wouldn't be able to do it. It also happened with my other concept, Anna and the French Kiss, which I was really excited to do. I ended up with my idea now, a book trailer for The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. Here are some stills from my motion graphics:


Alright, so my blog is not formatting my photos properly, but anyways, these are stills from my motion graphics. The beginning starts off with the main character, Celia, opening her eyes and the circus (the black lines) appear, and she slowly fades into it, and becomes one with the circus. The reason why is because in the story, she has a doing with creating the circus, and does get become with circus. 

The concept of this motion graphics was based on the colours of the book; in the novel, the colours white, black and red are really important. I based the eyes off the cover of the Great Gatsby, because the eyes in the billboard in the novel was to represent god always watching, and in the novel, while Celia has a big role in watching over the circus, there's a higher power always watching her and another person who helps her keep the circus alive. Also, lines are going to be a big part of this assignment, as I was very influenced by our Saul Bass lectures.

Hopefully I'll be done before the end of week 11!

Monday, 9 November 2015

ARC Review: Soundless by Richelle Mead


Author: Richelle Mead
Pages: 272
Publisher: Razorbill
Expected Release Date: November 10th, 2015
Received from: Publisher:
Status: Standalone

Synopsis (from Goodreads):

From Richelle Mead, the #1 internationally bestselling author of Vampire Academy and Bloodlines, comes a breathtaking new fantasy steeped in Chinese folklore. 

For as long as Fei can remember, there has been no sound in her village, where rocky terrain and frequent avalanches prevent residents from self-sustaining. Fei and her people are at the mercy of a zipline that carries food up the treacherous cliffs from Beiguo, a mysterious faraway kingdom. 

When villagers begin to lose their sight, deliveries from the zipline shrink and many go hungry. Fei’s home, the people she loves, and her entire existence is plunged into crisis, under threat of darkness and starvation.

But soon Fei is awoken in the night by a searing noise, and sound becomes her weapon.

Richelle Mead takes readers on a triumphant journey from the peak of Fei’s jagged mountain village to the valley of Beiugo, where a startling truth and an unlikely romance will change her life forever..

***
Soundless by Richelle Mead was a wonderful and refreshing story that makes you really disappointed that this book is only a standalone and not one of her many enjoyable series. However, Soundless really was unique, and stood out on its own, which made me pretty content with the fact that it is just a standalone.

I've been re-reading all of Vampire Academy and Bloodlines, ever since I finished this novel; it made me long and ache for more of her stories, and made me remember why I started reading YA novels after my post-Twilight disorder (yes, I was one of those readers).

Fei is a wonderful character: strong, driven, and loyal, yet disciplined and very compassionate. She has all the qualities that make Mead's other characters stand out, but what makes her unique is that she can't hear, and often with Mead's characters, their weaknesses are intangible, like a spirit bond or a bad self image. Of course, Fei had her own inner turmoil, but having that inability on top of that when you have to go out and save lives... well, it gets difficult.

While I did enjoy the story for the most part, and the characters were great, I felt like there was something missing. I really don't want to compare these characters to her characters in VA or BL, since those characters grow in a span of 6 novels each, but there was a lacking quality- an extra punch that I felt like could've drove this story home. 

Regardless, this story was great. I throughly enjoyed it, and like how Mead stepped into some Chinese folklore for this novel; it was well written, and really easy to read!


Friday, 6 November 2015

Review: Falling Kingdoms by Morgan Rhodes



Author: Morgan Rhodes
Pages: 412
Publisher: Razorbill Canada
Release Date: December 11, 2012
Status: Falling Kingdoms #1

Synopsis (from Goodreads):

In the three kingdoms of Mytica, magic has long been forgotten. And while hard-won peace has reigned for centuries, a deadly unrest now simmers below the surface.

As the rulers of each kingdom grapple for power, the lives of their subjects are brutally transformed... and four key players, royals and rebels alike, find their fates forever intertwined. Cleo, Jonas, Lucia, and Magnus are caught in a dizzying world of treacherous betrayals, shocking murders, secret alliances, and even unforeseen love.

The only outcome that's certain is that kingdoms will fall. Who will emerge triumphant when all they know has collapsed?

It's the eve of war.... Choose your side.

Princess: Raised in pampered luxury, Cleo must now embark on a rough and treacherous journey into enemy territory in search of magic long thought extinct.

Rebel: Jonas, enraged at injustice, lashes out against the forces of oppression that have kept his country cruelly impoverished. To his shock, he finds himself the leader of a people's revolution centuries in the making.

Sorceress: Lucia, adopted at birth into the royal family, discovers the truth about her past—and the supernatural legacy she is destined to wield.

Heir: Bred for aggression and trained to conquer, firstborn son Magnus begins to realise that the heart can be more lethal than the sword....

***
I actually finished this book back in the summer of 2014, but hadn't written a review on it till recently, when I decided to go clean my bookshelf.

Falling Kingdoms from the get-go has a lot going on (as hinted in the synopsis): four main characters, intrigue, romance, love, betrayal and rebellion.

I was initially not going to re-read this book (because I didn't really have that strong of an opinion of it the first time I read it; probably because I read it that summer I went to Quebec, and it just got jumbled with the rest of my memories), but then I remembered how much I enjoyed A Book of Spirit and Thieves. 

Most books that deal with this many characters and interweaving story plots tend to get a little confusing at times, or at least, the book focuses more on specific characters', and tends to forget the others- that was not the case with Falling Kingdoms. At times, yes, I couldn't help but draw comparisons to other books and television shows I've read/seen at the moment, but for a 1st book in a huge series, it does set the tone for the other books that follow it. There's a lot in this book, and the plot may seem easy to follow at first, but the actions created by the characters hint at a larger and much more horrific battle than they all ever imagined.

While I did find some parts slow, it was a great story overall. I totally recommend this novel to anyone that's a fan of high fantasy.



RTA 103: Storytelling and Transmedia

One story I've encountered this week is the release of Soundless by Richelle Mead; I saw people talking about it on my Twitter timeline, and I would consider this as an example of transmedia.

As a book blogger, I am aware that many bloggers/people/authors/publishers promote on various social media websites, such as Twitter or Facebook, where the author of the book can interact with the audience, and where the audience can discuss and spread the topic at hand to a larger audience, by spreading it to their friends and who's friends will spread it to there's etc, in a large ripple affect.


I have experience with transmedia, both in school and in real life. I experience transmedia when I'm blogging, or when I'm watching a television show, and then go online to participate in a discussion or conversation, or watch a video to promote something I watch or heard. The best example of transmedia in my life at the moment is working with my creative processes group to promote our PSA to our demographic using videos, social media, and games/apps.

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

RTA 103: Bloggers' Choice (Yay!)- The Kensington Project

I like how we're given the option to choose our topic for this week, however, I feel like my creativity has dried out-- it took me awhile to actually come up with something to write about this week. I guess, after all the motion graphic lectures, the final assignment has been on my mind for awhile. 

I'm doing my trailer for a story that I am currently writing entitled, The Kensington Project. The story takes place in an alternate universe where everyone is segregated between colour, race, and gender, with their only similarities being their first names (everyone is named Jane or John) and being controlled by the Governors. When Jane Alexa meets a mixed race boy, John Daniel, her life gets turned upside down; shipped to House of Governors in the city, she fears the worse, but what she experiences is the opposite. Instead of being condemned by the Governess and her advisors, she is encouraged to pursue her relationship with John Daniel, and finds herself thrust into the middle of an integration campaign. But the longer she stays, the faster she realizes that not everything is what it seems, and soon uncovers the Governors' dirty secrets.

The story is actually based on the Kensington system which was enforced by Queen Victoria's mother, the Duchess of Kent, and her advisor, Sir John Conroy. It had the world's most ridiculous rules, and was literally a huge ruse just to get her to break so when Princess (later Queen) Victoria ascended to the throne, she'd rely on them- which did not happen. I wanted to use Queen Victoria's oppression and place it in a setting where the character is severely segregated and the world was very similar to ours. 

For the trailer (due to its limited time frame) wanted to feature some dialogue that I've written in the story, and create a build up to the actual title. I was inspired by the Marco Polo's Ink-Drawn Title Sequence, which can be found here. I am actually drawing most of the title sequence, and am still trying to figure out how I'm actually going to execute it, but the title sequence is a huge inspiration for me. I recently purchased a sketch book and calligraphy pens to create the title, and if I do go through with the ink-inspired bleeding in the sequence, I think I'm going to have to do most of it on Photoshop. I'm keeping it simple- it will be black and white- and I am going to record some original audio as well. That's all I have now- just a blur of ideas. What I DO KNOW is that I'll have to watch a lot of Lydia.com tutorials for this assignment. But I am excited. I think I'll just make a full length one for my own amusement. Ironically enough, I'm not done the entire story; the only reason why I'm doing it based on this is to inspire some more plot points.

Review: Found by Harlan Coben

Author: Harlan Coben
Pages: 336
Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers 
Released: September 9th, 2014
Status: Mickey Bolitar #3

Synopsis (from Goodreads):

It's been eight months since Mickey Bolitar witnessed the shocking, tragic death of his father. Eight months of lies, dark secrets, and unanswered questions. While he desperately wants answers, Mickey's sophomore year of high school brings on a whole new set of troubles. Spoon is in the hospital, Rachel won't tell him where he stands, his basketball teammates hate him... and then there's Ema's surprise announcement: She has an online boyfriend, and he's vanished.

***

Found by Harlan Coben is the third book in the Mickey Bolitar series- thank goodness, it finally came out!

The story takes place not too long after the second book, and revolves around Mickey's search for his father, and Ema's missing boyfriend. What makes this book different from its predecessors is the fact that its more relationship based, and shows Mickey opening up more towards other people. We all know that he's a good narrator with a guarded heart, but we see his walls break down.

The mystery in this novel is fast paced, but I found myself figuring out what was going on way before. However, I was guessing at times, because I did forget a lot of the second book by the time I picked up this novel.

Overall, it was a good book, and I would definitely recommend this series.


Thursday, 22 October 2015

ARC Review: Velvet Undercover by Terri Brown




Author: Teri Brown
Pages: 336
Publisher: Balzer + Bray

Released: October 20th, 2015
Received from: publisher (before publication)
Status: Standalone

Synopsis (from Goodreads):

Perfect for fans of Jennifer Donnelly and Libba Bray comes this page-turning historical spy thriller from Teri Brown, author of the Born of Illusion series.

Samantha Donaldson's family has always done its duty for the British Crown. In the midst of World War I, seventeen-year-old Sam follows in their footsteps, serving her country from the homefront as a messenger for the intelligence organization MI5. After her father disappears on a diplomatic mission, she continues their studies of languages, mathematics, and complex puzzles, hoping to make him proud.

When Sam is asked to join the famed women's spy group La Dame Blanche, she's torn—while this could be an unbelievable adventure, how can she abandon her mother, who has already lost a husband? But when her handlers reveal shocking news, Sam realizes she can't refuse the exciting and dangerous opportunity.

Her acceptance leads her straight into the heart of enemy territory on a mission to extract the most valuable British spy embedded in Germany, known only as Velvet. Deep undercover in the court of Kaiser Wilhelm II, Sam must navigate the labyrinthine palace and its many glamorous—and secretive—residents to complete her assignment. To make matters worse she must fight a forbidden attraction to the enemy—a dangerously handsome German guard. In a place where personal politics are treacherously entangled in wartime policy, can Sam find Velvet before it's too late . . . for them both?

A thrilling story of one girl's journey into a deadly world of spy craft and betrayal—with unforgettable consequences.

***

Velvet Undercover is a wonderful spy story written by Teri Brown set in WW1. The story is intriguing and adventurous, and gave an insight in being a female spy undercover in 1914.

Sam Donaldson's family has been proudly serving their country for as long as she can remember, but when the time comes for her to be selected and inducted into a secret spy organization, she is hesitant. Fuelled by her own curiosity and sense of duty, she finds herself  behind enemy lines, and slowly learning that all that she was trained to do from childhood wouldn't prepare her- or her heart- for what was to come.

I thoroughly enjoyed the book- spy adventures are some of my favourite books to read. Reading this book reminded me a lot of the Gallagher Girls series, just condensed and set in WW1. But what sets this book apart was the fact that our narrator, who, despite the fact was trained in cryptology, maths, and languages at a child, is thrown into a world she only imagined, because she lived such a normal life. 

I liked the mystery, the intrigue, and the adventure was great. I usually read spy stories set in WW2, but having one set in the first one shows how evolved espionage became in between the wars.

Anyways, I highly recommend this book- especially to fans of Ally Carter, Libba Bray and Jennifer Donnelly!



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