Today, a few thoughts on the books I’ve been reading and the movies I’ve been watching, and then Thursday 8/15/13 Suzanne Johnson is guest blogging about her latest release in her “Sentinels of New Orleans Series” – ELYSIAN FIELDS. There will be chances to win some GREAT PRIZES (including an iPad 2!) so be sure to stop by again tomorrow.

Assassin’s Gambit

(Fantasy Romance)

I found this title because Amy and I connected online and the story intrigued me. (Click here for her guest post on “Brainy Heroes”). The plot was almost equally divided between the romance between Vitala (a Caturanga champion and deadly assassin) and Lucien (a charismatic amputee emperor) and a coup d’état and the war that follows. Vitala and Lucien were unique and memorable and their path to happiness full of enough bumps and hurdles to keep me turning the pages. The secondary characters were interesting too (loved Flavia!). The second book in the series focuses on the romance between Rhianne (Lucien’s cousin, a mind mage) and Jan-Torres (a foreign prince). I can’t help wondering if Celeste (Lucien’s sister) or Ista (another assassin) will get their HEA’s in future books. Amy will have to let us know! 🙂

Generation V

(Urban Fantasy)

I found this book because I read Brennan’s post during the Supernatural Smack Down event that my character Noon Onyx participated in. The voice of her character, Fortitude Scott, immediately captured my attention (click here for Fort’s Smack Down post) and made me laugh and I thought, “I just have to read this.” Brennan’s writing style is terrific and her vampires feel fresh and new (even though most of them are ancient). Half the reason I was turning the pages in the beginning was to learn more about the character and the world he lived in. He made me laugh, he made me feel sorry for him, and he made me root for him. There are some dark parts to the story, but urban fantasy readers are prepared for dark. Those parts of the story are well-balanced by the humor. I loved Suzume, the trickster kitsune who is Fort’s body-guard, life coach, and partner in crime. The ending nicely wrapped up loose ends while leaving plenty of room for Fort to grow and take on new challenges. I’m definitely looking forward to the second book, Iron Night!

House Of Shadows

(Fantasy)

I already posted a bit about this already. Just wanted to say I finished it and adored it. I’ll be looking for more of Rachel Neumeier’s books in the future. I read in the extras at the back of the book that she started this book three different ways (with the three main characters) and then decided to make up a plot that tied everything together. Fascinating. Each of the characters were very well-rounded and developed so her method made sense in hindsight. There was also a bit of sweet romance, but the twin stars of this story were the magic and the world itself.

Oblivion

I have to admit that Tom Cruise is not automatically box office gold for me anymore. That said, this role reminded me again that he’s a great actor, equally able to play an action hero and show a lot of soul. In terms of the depth of emotion the character shows, this role reminded me more of Vanilla Sky or Jerry Maguire than Mission Impossible or Minority Report. Nothing about the plot was mind-blowing (i.e. like The Matrix or Inception were the first time I saw them), but it absolutely held my attention. The visuals were stunning. Since this movie is so easy to spoil (and very worth watching!) I’ll just say that it’s set in a post-apocalyptic earth wasteland. Cruise plays a droid technician who’s living a lonely existence with his partner, Vika, when he discovers a human survivor in the wreckage of a recent spaceship crash – a beautiful woman whom he recognizes from his dreams or memories. The story that follows is just trippy enough to be interesting and just a hair’s breadth shy of sappy sentimentalism, all set against a very slick futuristic backdrop. In other words: I loved it!

Never Let Me Go

The most un-science fiction science fiction movie I’ve ever seen. The least creepy beyond-creepy movie I’ve ever seen. This movie is about as far from a movie like Aliens as you can get. There are no monsters jumping out at you, but that doesn’t mean the movie doesn’t have them. But, oh, are they hidden. And besides, the story isn’t about the monsters. It’s about their victims. But by phrasing my thoughts this way, I’m probably giving you a misimpression. This is not a scary movie. It’s a horrifying movie. And there is a difference. I can’t say I loved it. It was too sad and depressing for that. But it did make me think and it was incredibly well done. If you like science fiction movies that are slow and reflective, this is one to rent.

So what is it about? Since I don’t want to ruin your sense of discovery if you watch it, I’ll just say that it’s about a group of children at a boarding school who learn that they aren’t exactly who they always thought they were. More specifically, the story tracks the lives of three of the kids caught in a love triangle. But it isn’t a typical angsty contemporary high school romance drama. The movie was based on Kazuo Ishiguro’s novel of the same name. Ishiguro clearly deals in topics no less weighty than the nature of humanity, the existence of souls, and the ethics of some practices that are still speculative but only all too imaginable.

Noon Onyx Series

White Heart of Justice

We just finished the back cover copy – yay! Will be posting that once I have the new cover. I’ll be offering some fun prizes during that event as well so stay tuned…

How about you? Have you read Assassin’s Gambit, Generation V, or House of Shadows? Have you seen Oblivion or Never Let Me Go? Did you read that book? If so, feel free to share your thoughts and don’t forget to stop by tomorrow for Suzanne Johnson’s post (and a chance to win an iPad 2)!