Profile for Sarah R > Reviews

Personal Profile

Content by Sarah R
Top Reviewer Ranking: 14,889
Helpful Votes: 766

Learn more about Your Profile.

Reviews Written by
Sarah R (UK)

Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10
Vampire Academy [DVD] [2014]
Vampire Academy [DVD] [2014]
Dvd ~ Zoey Deutch
Price: £5.30

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Bad pacing ruins a good premise, 30 Aug 2014
This review is from: Vampire Academy [DVD] [2014] (DVD)
Vampire Academy is based upon a young adult series that I happen to be a fan of, I re-read the series before the film was suppose to come to UK cinemas earlier this year, which sadly never did as it performed poorly at the US box office. Despite bad reviews, I was eager to form my own opinion, now the DVD is out I can safely say that...this really should have been a TV series.

Let's start from the beginning; Lissa is a Moroi (mortal vampire) who also happens to be the last member of her royal family bloodline. Her best friend is Rose, a dhampir (half human half vampire) who is trained alongside her kind to protect the Moroi from Strigoi (evil undead vampires). Before the film begins, Rose and Lissa ran away from their boarding school for fear of Lissa's life in danger, but when the Academy catches up with them they're dragged back to school, where their enemy secretly awaits them.

One of the things I liked was the handle of Rose; upon re-reading the books I realised that Rose's claim of being a skilled fighter is too tell and not much show, at least until the end of book 2. However the film makes her a lot more active, she takes down a few opponents in the opening fight with a motorcycle diversion which works nicely to set up her capabilities. There are other examples which I won't spoil but I feel that the movie showed her character very well and made her a more balanced partner to Dimitri.

The actors are all proficient too; it's great they actually got a Russian actor (Danila Kozlovsky) to play Dimitri, who sells the character fantastically - graceful, deadly, and wears the duster perfectly. Zoey Deutch is Rose, there's no doubt about that, it looks like she had fun in her role too. She shares great chemistry with Lucy Fry who I was afraid to see in the role as the several clips I saw beforehand, I struggled to hear what she said, but actually she was fine as Lissa. Some of the side actors (such as Sami Gayle) were a little wooden but nothing too cringe worthy.

Cosmic things such as the look of the school and the costumes are nicely done, the Academy looks so big and full of life, with a few titbits here and there to set it apart from other boarding school settings. The music score is decent as well.

The original book had a few pacing issues; mostly that constant flashbacks broke up scenes unnaturally. Those scenes did help with character development and such but it did have a problem of taking you in and out of moments abruptly. This issue doesn't affect the film, however it has its own pacing issues; it's horribly fast. The scenes are edited so sharply that they have no time to breath and the tone jumps from one second to the next. One moment the characters fear for their life, the next they're laughing like they have not a care in the world.

This bleeds into the plot developments; in the original book a lot of mystery and plot twists were built up slowly, it was a struggle for Rose to find answers due to her need to not get into further trouble, whilst Lissa's continuous effort to fight against her own madness was gripping and I know a lot of teens identity with her as a result. But in the film the answers come to Rose very easily with little effort needed to progress, and Lissa's struggle with her power is so quickly resolved and then accepted as the norm towards the end that a lot of her character depth is lost as a result. I know in film things have to be handled differently, but because it's moving so fast it loses the audience in the meantime.

And that is what ultimately damages the film; as someone who's read the book, I can add emotion and character building into the film as I know what's going on. But for a non-book reader they only have the constant jumping to go on, and it's so erratic that the movie struggles under its own weight of character developing, scene setting and trying to be witty, but in the end it comes across as soulless. The right ingredients are there but aren't given enough time to cook before being rushed into the next plot point.

Vampire Academy has great potential, the books are not perfection but it is a good story and would've worked much better as a TV series to allow for the world building and plot twists to get the audience engaged. The little things the film does right are lost in the awful pacing and editing. It's easy to see why general audiences didn't warm up to it, why book fans were disappointed, and why it's unlikely to get a sequel. I'd recommend the books; only watch the film if you already read the book and are curious to see how it turns out.

Dexter - The Final Season [DVD]
Dexter - The Final Season [DVD]
Dvd ~ Michael C. Hall
Price: £9.80

6 of 13 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars An unfortunate end, to a once great series., 30 Sep 2013
When Dexter first premiered it was a striking, original drama; the protagonist was secretly a serial killer who lived a double life as a blood analyst for the police. It was something not seen regularly on television back when the pilot wowed audiences. During the production of its final season there have been premieres of other serial killer led series hoping to take Dexter's crown, such as Bates Motel and Hannibal. Little do they know that the crown is already ripe for the taking, as season 8 is Dexter's most disappointing season of all.

Whilst Dexter is continuing life as normal in Miami, Deb is self-destructing after killing LaGuerta in the previous season, wanting nothing more to do with her brother and seems to be on the edge of telling the world about Dexter's dark secret. At the same time a new face arrives by the name of Dr Vogel, who shortly reveals that she is the one who helped Harry create `the code' that Dexter lives by. She specializes in psychopaths and believes Dexter to be `perfect', which is why she needs his help in killing an unknown psychopath who seems to be out to destroy her.

Let me start with the positive; the first 4 episodes are very strong, and the ideas peppered in them seemed to start off on the right foot for a grand finale. Dr Vogul (played by Charlotte Rampling) is handled well for most part; it makes sense that Dexter's father would turn to a psychiatrist for support with Dexter's condition so her part in the code doesn't feel too shoehorned in. Plus her nurturing of Dexter's dark passenger whilst everyone else is against it makes a nice contrast. Jennifer Carpenter gives fantastic performances as Deb and the speech she gives in the opening episode about her and Dexter being `lost' is the best piece of writing in this season. Her actions and emotional turmoil keeps you on the edge of your seat for the first 4 episodes.

Sadly after episode 4 it steadily declines in writing and plotting; Dr Vogul is given nothing noteworthy to do apart from being a gateway for the final, and ultimately bland, antagonist. The brain surgeon's character and motivation seems to alter to whatever the writers need him to be, either inject conflict for Dexter or kill any character the plot deems fit. Insultingly, Deb's trauma is too conveniently resolved, giving her character development a complete 180 in the most inappropriate of circumstances. Considering all the build up in the previous season and in all the trailers for this season, it seems they were drumming up Deb to be the one to finally reveal Dexter's true character to the world once and for all, but instead she's pushed aside for other matters that are nowhere near as well written or enjoyable. Then there's the return of Hannah McKay; I did like her in the previous season and her return in the cliffhanger of episode 6 is nicely done, then she's hastily drawn into the picture and given nothing to do outside of cooking dinner for Dexter and being an example of how to not hide yourself from the law.

The major downfall for the season as a whole was the unnecessary amount of time spent on introducing new characters that played no big part in the main story, or just adding new conflicts to the main cast that didn't matter in the end. All they accomplished was taking away focus on what the final season shouldn't been about; wrapping up the main story and creating emotional closure for the cast and audience. Example distractions include Vince finding out he has a daughter; all it accomplished was some awkward fatherly actions and hiring her at the lab so she can have no major input into any cases. Then there's a young man named Zach who becomes an `intern' of sorts for Dexter with Vogul's input, despite the interesting idea he again is treated poorly and written out before any true investment can be made. Another villain haphazardly put together is US Marshal Max; if any thought had been put into his character and arc he could've been a big threat but he's just there to point out various plot holes before exiting in an incredibly stupid scene. Then there's Quinn, who really gets the short end of the stick with a relationship with Jamie that is doomed from the start and a woman detective competing against him for the sergeant promotion, only to disappear with the promotion after episode 6 and leaving him looking like a fool.

There's plenty more little scenes or throwaway lines that lead to nothing in the end. For example there's too many instances when Quinn almost catches Dexter in the act or seems to be on the cusp of finding out; instead of building it up to a big reveal for the character, they are just moments of unintentional comic relief. Writing really takes a nose dive this season and it does little to hide itself when you have (for example) characters doing walking around with blood in their hands to have no one take notice. There's too much laziness all around to hide obvious errors that it gets distracting and at times laughable.

To top it all off, there's the finale; I won't spoil it for you but I will say this. I can see what they were trying to accomplish with Dexter's character for most part, and the tone of certain scenes (e.g. his final trip on Slice of Life) is suitably handled and can be seen as symbolic. However, the very final scene is too jarring against what had been building up. It's one of those endings that the more I thought about it, the more plot holes I uncovered and the more frustrated I became with it.

The final season of Dexter should've been just that; the final chance to wrap up the whole story, not conjuring new material that had to be wrapped up just as fast. Despite the promising start, the season does not hold up as a whole and the ending will be part of many heated conversations amongst Dexter fans for a long time. Season 4 was the series high point but unlike some fans I do not think season 5 - 7 were not a complete right off as they still took the cast into new ventures with solid character development. Season 8 however feels like a step backwards, the writer's couldn't decide what route to take Dexter; whether it be victorious, redemption, revenge, destruction or a set up for a (hinted at) spin off series. Instead it tries to hit all points, which results in something unfulfilling and disorienting. An unfortunate end, to a once great series.

The Indigo Spell (Bloodlines, Book 3)
The Indigo Spell (Bloodlines, Book 3)
by Richelle Mead
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.99

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Couldn't put it down, 10 Feb 2013
Sydney's world has been turned upside down; the Alchemists have been lying to her, the magic that she reluctantly wields seems to be growing each day and the Moroi vampire Adrian has proclaimed his love to her. With everything she'd been taught as `right' and `wrong' been completely flipped on its head, she turns her attention to Marcus Finch, a rebel ex-Alchemist that might be the key to the answers she's been seeking. But will her journey lead to salvation or re-education from the Alchemists?

Indigo Spell is the 3rd book in the Bloodlines series, which is a spin off from the Vampire Academy series. Unlike some spin off series where you often ache for another edition in the main series over the spin off, Richelle Mead has done a fantastic job of making Bloodlines stand on its own 2 feet, developing these fantastic characters whilst still containing clever cameos from the previous series, that there's no need to turn back. Indigo Spell is just another great book in the series that I just couldn't put down.

In some ways, Indigo Spell feels fairly different to the previous 2 books in the series. First of all; the series started as a repercussion of Rose's actions of the previous series, and sequential actions taken by bigger factions have been out of Sydney's control. In Indigo Spell however, Sydney takes control; at the start of the book she's dragged into big battles and Marcus' rebellion but by the end of the book she makes the choices she want to make and considering her strict upbringing, seeing her blossom into the woman she is now is incredible. She really grows so much in this book; anyone who's been unsure of her strict ways in earlier instalments will completely get on board with her in Indigo Spell. I've personally always loved her as a character but going on this journey with her is a great read from start till end.

Another element that's different from previous books is that, arguably, a fair amount of previous books have largely involved talking, setting up and character developing - reserving the action towards the 2nd half of the book. From the first page of Indigo Spell however, there's always something happening; first chapter - Sydney's dragged out of bed by Mrs Terwilliger and warned of a powerful evil witch coming, second chapter - Sydney takes a plane to a vampire wedding, and so on. There's so much going on in this book from the Alchemist's secrets to Marcus' rebellion group but the book never feels crowded or rushed. Sydney has a lot to deal with and balancing the different aspects of her life is handled brilliantly, she's also feeling the strain at times which makes her all the more human and relatable despite being in this huge and impossible world.

Let's take a closer look at the different plots of the book; a lot of other reviews have complimented all the hot scenes between Adrian and Sydney, and I will admit they I enjoyed reading them getting very intimate at times but some of my favourite scenes involved their (always) hilarious dialogue and just some great tender scenes where they're just hanging out. For example in one scene they play Monopoly, why? Why not?! They started off as friends, and despite their awkward and tension filled moments when Sydney's struggling with her deeper feelings, it's great to see their friendship still shining through, building their love in the most quirky but wonderful ways.
I also loved Sydney's continue development of her magic and having to help Mrs Terwilliger in the battle with an evil witch. The boundaries of the witch world are pushed even further here with some unusual spells that Sydney learns to protect herself, and then seeing it mixing with the world of the Alchemists and vampires made it all the more exciting that Richelle Mead can make the whole thing blend so effortlessly together. The build up and battle at the end is also very well done, I can't wait to see how much further she grows in the next book; she has a different kind of strength to Rose and that's why it feels so refreshing to read.
Then there's the Marcus subplot; from the cover and minor hints of the previous book, I thought that Marcus was going to be this mysterious figure that'll lead Sydney into his secret world and perhaps be a wedge between her and Adrian, but actually his role is rather different. His introduction is interesting and a lot of the information he reveals to Sydney is very fascinating (again expanding the huge world of Alchemists) but overall I found his scenes and his rebel group slightly underwhelming. Maybe it was because Sydney, our guide, was unsure of them through most of the book and we only meet a handful of the rebels. If that was Richelle Mead's intention then fine, but compared to the mammoth worlds and mythology of the Moroi, Strigoi, Alchemists, Keepers and witches, I felt that Marcus' rebellion group was much smaller and got lost in the other more pressing matters. I'm hoping we haven't seen the last of him and that his role expands in the next instalment as I think he has a lot of potential.

Sydney has changed so much since we first met her in Blood Promise, and her journey has been great so far. I couldn't put the book down and with the great twist at the end, the wait for the next book is going to be incredibly hard. If you've loved the Bloodlines series so far, don't hesitate to pick this up. If you have yet to take the plunge from Vampire Academy to Bloodlines, I highly recommend it, you won't regret it.

Days of Blood and Starlight (Daughter of Smoke and Bone Trilogy)
Days of Blood and Starlight (Daughter of Smoke and Bone Trilogy)
by Laini Taylor
Edition: Hardcover

6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars In some ways, its better than the first book, 4 Feb 2013
With her past revealed and Akiva's secret destroying her world, Kaoru leaves her human life to re-join her chimaera kind and help them rebuild what little is left of her people as Brimstone's only successor. Thiago, her former executioner, is supposedly working along side her but can Kaoru ever fully return to her former life and make amends for her traitorous actions? Meanwhile, a broken hearted Akiva returns to his own angel folk, branded as a hero for bringing out the supposed end of chimaeras but his brother & sister know the truth behind his actions. With the consequences unfolding before them, can they hope to build a new world that Akiva and Kaoru once dreamed of?

The first book, Daughter of Smoke and Bone, was a good start to a new series; I loved the writing, the incredibly fascinating fantasy world of Chimaeras and Angels and their histories. I also loved Kaoru's own little human world, her character, the crushing finale and tragedy of her back-story. However the book wasn't without problems; I didn't have the problem with the twist on the 'Romeo & Juliet' story however the handle on Akiva's and Kaoru's developing feelings wasn't handled very well. It was too 'lower-end' young adult fiction for it's own good - developed too fast and conveniently, and it was only during the finale that the weak middle part of the book was redeemed with the reveal of Kaoru's past life. Days of Blood and Starlight however took what I loved most about the first book and took the story into a painful war-torn direction, and I loved every second of it.

The first in the trilogy was very emotionally driven; Madrigal and Akiva had their passionate & forbidden affair, with their hopes for a better future where destroyed with Madrigal's death. Then Akiva - driven by his broken heart & soul at the lost of her - destroys the chimera world, only to find her reincarnated in a new human form by pure change of fate. Days of Blood and Starlight however is more character driven; if the previous book was full of fantasy, magic, mystery, love and hoping for a better future, its sequel is the complete opposite. Its pain, sorrow, betrayal and going through consequences of one's actions. What Akiva did in the previous book isn't going to go away with the power of love; thousands have lost their lives and Kaoru's world has been completely turned upside down. She understandably now can't look at the man she once loved and feels driven to help her former clan but they're not going to welcome her back with open arms so easily because, from their point of view, her actions led to this manslaughter. The same goes for Akiva, it takes time for his brother & sister to regain their trust in him and eventually come to his way of thinking - to build a world without constant war. But it's easier said than done and the conclusion they come to in order to build the new world isn't going to come without the clashing of swords and lost lives.

Those who love romance and were hoping for more here will be disappointed; the scenes where Kaoru & Akiva are together are as angst as the rest of the book, no happy ending is currently in sight for them, however that's a good thing. If, after everything that's happened, Kaoru forgave Akiva within a few pages, it wouldn't feel real or like anything had been accomplished. Of course you want the characters to be happy but first there's so much character and emotional development to accomplish and battles to be fought. Instead we jump back and forth between Kaoru and Akiva in their own worlds, trying to make a bad situation better, even with all the obstacles in their way. Kaoru is trying to continue Brimstone's work to re-build the future for her people but is having doubts about Thiago as well as carrying her own guilt. The story grips you from the first page and keeps you all the way to the last, leaving you begging for the 3rd installment.

Laini Taylor's writing is still as beautiful as ever here; building the fantasy world perfectly as she goes, I also love the many twists in story she took in the final 1/4 of the book. Just as I was guessing where the plot was going and settling into a rhythm she completely changes it. Skillfully she switches POV with each chapter so just as something big is revealed for one character, she quickly changes to a completely different scene. I couldn't put it down as I was dying to know what happens next. The book isn't completely filled with grim events however; Zuzana and her boyfriend Mik pretty much steal every page they're in with their brilliant sense of humour and watching them interact with the fascinating world of angels and demons is brilliantly handled. Ziri is a nice addition to the cast as well; his introduction is very much like Akiva's - completely besotted by Kaoru from the get go - and you can predict what his role will be in Akiva's and Kaoru's relationship in the final book but you can't help but feel sorry for the poor guy and what he goes through in this story.

That's not to say the book is flawless however; there's many POVs in this book, mostly Kaoru and Akiva but there's also side characters that, at first, help paint the picture of a world torn by war, slavery and death, they also have minor connections to the main cast. However a few of them don't really go anywhere or seem to have their conclusions saved for the next book, which is a bit disappointing. Also, Akiva is still arguably a boring character; however his actions in the book and character interactions with his brother and sister make him a lot more interesting than the 'sensitive warrior' stereotype that he was in the previous book.

When I finished Daughter of Smoke and Bone I was interested in checking out the sequel but was happy to patiently wait for it. After finishing Days of Blood and Starlight however it left me dying to know when the 3rd book is out, frantically searching the net for a release date or any info I can find. If you liked the first book purely for the romance, then you'll most likely find the sequel a disappointment. However if you love fantasy worlds, following through an epic story filled with magic, interesting characters and great action - look no further.

Eternally Yours: Bk. 3 (Immortal Beloved)
Eternally Yours: Bk. 3 (Immortal Beloved)
by Cate Tiernan
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £11.22

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A fitting end to the series, 18 Jan 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
After the trauma Nastasya experienced at the end of Darkness Falls, she's now back at River's Edge and her path to rehabilitation, but her world has been shaken considerably. With the help of River and other members of River's Edge her powers are beginning to grow, her friendships are building and even her relationship with Reyn is becoming less strained each day. However as River's brothers start to arrive at the cottage and make it quite clear of their suspicions of Nastasya, something bigger and darker is at work across the world...

Eternally Yours is the 3rd and final book of the Immortal Beloved series and it's best described as a combination of books 1 & 2 - both positively and negatively. Nastasya's quick wit narration is thankfully back (which was sorely missed in Darkness Falls) and her journey of self-discovering is slow but nevertheless interesting. The world and history of Immortals, built upon the several flashbacks, is still very fascinating to read and really fleshes out Nastasya's character, digging deeper into where she came from and how she got to where she is now. We also get great character development from Reyn, who pretty much steals every page he's in thanks to the fantastic lines Cate Tiernan gives him and the great romantic development between him and Nastasya. Considering the romance between then in previous books was mostly shallow and lacking chemistry, the scenes in Eternally Yours really make up for it. Some of the side characters get some nice scenes too, Brynne especially, and it was nice to have the human characters Drey and Meriwether return.

The plot however is not without problems; there are some good ideas in here and the build up to the final battle is well done but little things drag it down and prevent it from being a great book. Although the psychological aspects of the book were interesting, pulling apart Nastasya's character to reveal why she does this and that, some of it however does repeat itself a little too much and she still has the problem of being very angsty. "I don't belong here", "my magic's too dark" etc are common lines and I got bored of reading them over and over again. Understandably, she is traumatised from previous events but after the angst overload in Darkness Falls I got really tired of it. Another problem carried over from the previous book is Cate Tiernan's recycled plot elements, for example 'witch fire' from the Sweep/Wicca series is quickly stuffed into a scene for one use later on then never gets brought up again. I couldn't help but roll my eyes at that, I really hope Cate Tiernan moves away from 'magic' in her future series as it's clear she can't help but re-visit old material and it's getting ridiculous now. I also had conflicting issues with the ending; a villain is brought in at the last minute, complete with rushed backstory, and then its gone just as quickly as it came. At least the last chapter ends the series sweetly, even if it's clichéd.

Overall Eternally Yours ended the series well; it wrapped up most of the story nicely with some material for a spin off if Cate wanted to expand it. The world of immortals was a really fascinating one and I'm glad I invested the time into it, even if the road was a bit bumpy with clichés and Cate Tiernan's bad habit of recycling her own material. If you've read the last 2 books there's no reason you should pass this.

Hide & Seek
Hide & Seek
Offered by Fulfillment Express
Price: £13.44

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not their best, but by no means a terrible album, 1 Nov 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Hide & Seek (Audio CD)
This year has been a fantastic year for music; Julien-K released their long-awaited 2nd album, Celldweller's 9 years in the making album finally came out and now The Birthday Massacre are back with their 5th full-length album. According to several interviews, the album was described by the band as being lyrically `darker' than previous records. Chibi's fascination with unsolved murder mysteries played a part in the album's creation too. But is the music any good?

1. "Leaving Tonight"
Previous album openers have often had quite a build up that crashes to a heavy rock track, this one however is a very different kettle of fish. Chibi starts singing very soon into the song and the beat stays the same mid-tempo feel until the 2nd half. It's very reminiscing of their early work, and the constant use of 'I want to go home' rings the theme of the album nicely from the start. May not light any fires upon first listen but it grows on you with repeated listens.

2. "Down"
This was the first song the band released to the public so it's had more of a chance for repeated listens; so at the moment it's one of my favourite album tracks. It blasts the guitars early on but then slows down for the verseswhere Chibi sings so sweetly...until she growls all over the bridge. Yes her growling is back, it does sound very different from previous tracks she's growled on (because vocalist Chibi had developed polyps, so had to sing differently for the album) but it only adds to the brilliant track. The lyrics describe a relationship doomed from the start and every word used paints the picture perfectly.

3. "Play with Fire"
3rd track in and the music takes a much sinister tone, Chibi's uses a more breathy vocal here to heighten the tension and darkness of the song, I especially love towards the end when she whispers the 'fire' lyric. There aren't many lyrics here but it's the vocal delivery and keyboards that sell the deliciously dark track. It's quite different to what they've done before and it's one of my favourites on the album.

4. "Need"
Track 4 carries the sinister tone of the previous track but goes for a more rocky sound. As the title suggests the song is about an unrequited love that the singer just doesn't want to let go; although the lyrics are great I felt something was lacking in the music. It doesn't build up enough and never really reaches the climax I think the song needed, and although Chibi sells the desperation in the chorus I wanted there to be more backing vocals to sell her 'need'.

5. "Calling"
Track 5 reminds me of 'Science' or 'Shiver' in that it has a repetitive beat, almost dancing aspect to the song with very striking lyrics. The music is great, the chorus is catchy and the lyrics paint a picture as the song goes on. It does end rather abruptly but it's a still great track.

6. "Alibis"
Getting back to the dark side of the album, 'Alibis' is a slower track that maintains it's creepy atmosphere thanks to the keyboards. Chibi takes centre stage here; her whispery vocals during the verses switching to more authoritative tone during the chorus really works, and the lyrics are great too. This track will most likely get lost in the rest of their discography but it is a decent song.

7. "One Promise"
Guitars greet us at the very top of the track before Chibi takes on a more 'child-like' singing here, and with lyrics such as 'making sure the toys are put away' it works nicely. Admittedly it sounds quite similar to previous tracks such as `Midnight' and `Walking with Strangers' but my favourite part is the darker build up towards the end as it reminds me of their 'Violet' album immensely. I can see this track being popular during their upcoming gigs.

8. "In this Moment"
You're likely to be reminded of 'To Die For' here as rain drops/water sounds top and tail this track, but 'In the Moment' is not the same as 'To Die For' at all sadly. I love Chibi's beautiful vocals during the verses, and the lyrics paint a fairy tale picture that The Birthday Massacre excel at, however the song sort of loses its identity towards the chorus. Chibi still sounds great but the chorus is rather forgettable which is a shame. I hope this song grows on me more.

9. "Cover My Eyes"
The drum machine really sets the tone of this song apart from the rest of the album; Chibi's 'fascination with unsolved murder mysteries' obviously comes into play here and this is by far her strongest vocal performance on the album. From the ethereal vocals, the stunningly dark lyrics and the music being very restraint at the start, building up the mystery and tension as the song goes on without letting go or going over the top is all done perfectly. One of the best songs on the album and they have ever done.

10. "The Long Way Home"
On one hand this track is too short and sounds like an extension of the previous song. One the other hand the multi-layered vocals are very haunting and beautifully done that I can't help but be completely drawn into this song and feel sad when it suddenly cuts and ends the album.

There's no denying that there are some great highlight tracks here, and despite the struggles the band faced with recording this album it still sounds great, they should be very proud of themselves. However I do not feel as attached to this album like I have done with previous albums. With 'Violet', 'Walking with Strangers' and 'Pin and Needles' I immediately loved them upon first listen, even if I didn't loved every track, as a whole album body I completely feel for them hook, line and sinker. Although I have stated before their songs are 'growers', with 'Hide and Seek' I feel I need more listens and time before I can get fully on board with it. Also, 'Hide and Seek' is the shortest album in their discography so far, as a result the songs breeze by rather quickly. However they've released at least 1 album or single every year for the past 3 years so I can't really complain about the lack of material.

Birthday Massacre fans - grab this album, there's no doubt about that, you'll enjoy it. Are you new to the band? Don't buy this as a first purchase. Start at 'Violet' and check out their other albums before coming back here.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 4, 2012 6:51 PM GMT

Wish Upon A Blackstar
Wish Upon A Blackstar
Offered by MEGA Media FBA
Price: £9.47

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very much worth the wait, 19 July 2012
This review is from: Wish Upon A Blackstar (Audio CD)
9 years in the making, Celldweller's follow up to his practically perfect self-titled debut has by no means been a rushed or unwanted effort. Despite being released as mini digital chapters over the years, I didn't listen to any of the new tracks until it's physical release this year as I'd rather own a physical copy of albums and in full rather than drips and drabs. Was it worth the wait? YES! Is the one of the best albums of the year? Yeah I would say so. Is it better than it's debut? Personally, I think not quite, but it's still a very strong album.

In many ways the 'feel' and production of the album is very much like Klayton's debut, but instead of his self-titled album being introvert, sad and submissive Wish Upon a Blackstar is extrovert, aggressive and angry. The albums opens on 'The Arrival' leading into 'Unshakeable'; very dubstep heavy and great opening to the album that immediately lays down the attitude the albums is packed with. 'I Can't Wait' is very aggressive as well; upon first listening I wasn't keen on Klayton's "I CAN'T WAIT TO BE AROUND YOU" screaming in my ear but it's energy stays with you after the song ends. 'The Lucky One' is one I'm really look forward to hearing live if Klayton comes to the UK; it's crowd cheering chorus and comedic lyrics really get the adrenaline pumping. 'Louder than Words' is arguably the more radio friendly track of the album but it's brilliant music and melody makes it one of my favourites on the album. Then there's the completely sinister 'Gift for You'; the brilliant lyrics, Klayton's velvet voice and fantastically creepy tune all work perfectly together.

The slower side of the album is a great listen too; 'Memories of a Girl I Haven't Met' is barely over a minute long, which is such a shame as it's a beautiful tune with captivating lyrics. 'Against the Tide' isn't as strong of an album closer as 'Welcome to the End' from the debut but it's still a very moving track. 'It Makes No Difference Who We Are' really pulls all of the themes of the album together.

There's less interludes and more songs but a fair amount of the tracks have a slightly too long running time; fine for raves, clubs and/or gigs but at 16 tracks clocking in at nearly an hour and a half, it can seem a tad dragged out at times. 'Eon' looses my attention after a while, for example, at 6 and a half minutes. Lyrics can also be a mixed bag; I do love Klayton's sense of humour in 'The Lucky One' but his bridge "I tried to push straight through the suck..." is not the best written piece of work he's done, yet it's repeated far too many times during the climax of the track. Also rhyming 'Waiting' and 'Anticipating' is not exactly original is it?

Regardless of the minor faults, this album is still fantastic. If you're a fan of Celldweller or a lover of music in general (the album ranges from dubstep to industrial) then there's no reason not to pick it up.

We're Here With You
We're Here With You

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Contender for best album of the year, 28 Jan 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: We're Here With You (Audio CD)
We're Here With You has the honour of being the first album I heard mostly live before the actual release of the album. Since falling in love with their debut album `Death Before Analog', I've seen Julien-K perform twice in London and highly anticipated their second album. Finally 2012 sees the release of it after several delays and teases, and like their previous album it's already tipped to become my favourite album of the year. Despite being a lot smaller than their previous album (only 10 tracks with no additional remix CD) and moving away from their industrial rock sound, the album is still a great follow up.

1. We're Here With You
The album opens in a similar manner to the previous; We're Here With You takes its time to build up the guitars, keyboard and drums before Ryan's voice punches through, and when you hear how high his voice goes within seconds of his voice entering - you know the band means business! The shouted lines of the chorus is rather sporadic, making it hard to sing along with or get into the flow of the song at first but the opener is nevertheless very energetic and great way to start the album.

2. Surrounded By Cowards
The next song taps into the more electronic sound that will dominate the latter half of the album but still keeps the guitar quite prominent so flows from the previous track quite nicely. Ryan again shows his confidence and growth in vocal power by singing quite high and sweetly in the verses. The melody is easy to grasp and sing along too, making the track quite likeable and catchy. Good song overall.

3. Cruel Daze of Summer
I heard this song back in 2010 when I first saw Julien-K live; I loved the live version of the song upon first listen and am now thrilled to have it available to listen to whenever I want. The song has a long opener with great guitar riffs and the piano/keyboard tune makes me want to clap my hands just as hard as I did when I was at the gig. The song is quite sad despite the upbeat melody and dance-y feel of it, creating a nice contrast. Ryan's vocals are like velvet over the brilliant music and as it clocks in just over 6 minutes it allows all the instruments to breathe but the time flies by. One of the best tracks on the album.

4. Breakfast in Berlin
Released digitally for free several weeks before the album release with a music video following after, Breakfast in Berlin has had more time to spin on my ipod and really grow on me. The drum beat and distorted guitars bring in a catchy beat before Ryan's auto tuned vocals name drop numerous cities as the song progresses. The track has an unconventional song structure (no obvious verse-chorus-verse arrangement) plus the heavy electronic sound to Ryan's vocals make the song hard to follow at first but the infectious hook of the `ah-ah-ahs' throughout the song will grip you from the start. The sexiness of the track becomes more prominent on repeat listens so I do recommended that if you're not sold on it the first play to give it a few more spins before judging, especially as it's the shortest track on the album so it stays around long enough to get you moving before we go onto...

5. Palm Springs Reset
The title makes me think of a Sonic the Hedgehog level - not surprising as the band have done work for the game series before. The song is probably the closest thing the band has done to a ballad; it's not like Forever or Maestro where the guitars and big vocal performances still keep it in the rock territory, Palm Springs Reset is instead very soft and sentimental. I love the lyrics and Ryan's voice really sells the romance side of the track, I'm especially keen on the small piano backing during the chorus - beautiful track and one of my favourites.

6. Colorcast
Track 6 opens on a similar mood set by the previous track but with a more trance sound. It's when we get to the chorus however that we see the song's true colours; the chorus is very upbeat and bouncy, almost like a summer rave club. The track is closest to the `pop' sound that many dub-step songs that today's charts have taken a liken to lately, but that doesn't make it a bad track. The song makes me wish it was the summer and with it dance feel I can see myself listening to this track a lot more when the weather warms up.

7. Close Continuance
We open up on a warped keyboard beat before Ryan's deep vocals take control of the song, I was initially excited for this track because I love it when Ryan uses his chest voice - it's why Nvr Say Nvr and Futura were among my favourites from their previous album, but by the chorus the song turns to a more upbeat track similar to Colorcast with extra guitars and less auto-tune. Due to the similarities compared to the previous songs I find myself tuning out halfway through it, one of weakest songs as it fails to stand out as much.

8. Nights of Future Past
Track 8 is another melancholy track similar to the vain of Palm Springs Reset but with a darker twist, breaking from the more upbeat sounds of the previous songs. I get Celldweller vibes from this tune, another artist I'm fond of, but Nights of Future Past isn't to be written off; the song is very thought-provoking with the great lyrics, brilliant melody and the echo-y effect added to the bridge creating a haunting effect to the song. A very strong track.

9. Flashpoint Riot
Nearing the end of the album we welcome back the rock vibe with really gritty, grungy guitars and the keyboard working its way up to the highest note it can reach. Once the riff kicks off, the keyboard goes a bit mental during the song, hitting various sound effect buttons along the way such as laser zapping. Ryan's voice is auto tuned again but it's during the chanting chorus that really gears the energy of the track into maximum. I can really picture football fans shouting out the chorus to their supporting team during a match - it has that big commanding energy that I can see getting the crowd going at Julien-K's next gig. Great song!

10. I'll Try Not to Destroy You
The title of the song really intrigued me before I even heard it and the track doesn't disappoint; the album ends on a softer track drenched in the electro and trance prominent across the album. With Ryan's soft vocals and downbeat of the track the song is very hypnotising, dark and slightly depressing but it what makes it such a beautiful song to end the album on. The keyboard melody, again, catches my ear in between Ryan's singing, and really sells me on it. It's a lovely song to end the album on.

Julien-K could've played it safe and stuck with the industrial/synth rock sound they have most experience with within Orgy, or gone the alternative rock route like their other project Dead by Sunrise with Chester, but they didn't. The decided to build on what they learnt from Death to Analog and go the more electronic route with pop and rock elements to wrap up the whole package, and it really works. All the songs are very well crafted, flow brilliantly into one another and the production is spot on, I may not like every track on the album but I can't deny that each song is lovingly made. If you're new to the band I do recommend listening to their debut to get where the band has come from and how they're progressed to `We're Here With You', plus the debut arguably has more of a variety in content. If you loved `Death to Analog' then you need to check out this album, it may not be as heavy on rock that some fans may prefer but the content is still Julien-K, still brilliant, and very much `Album of the Year' material.

Darkness Falls (Immortal Beloved)
Darkness Falls (Immortal Beloved)
by Cate Tiernan
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £7.42

2.0 out of 5 stars Darkness falls, familiarity sets in..., 28 Dec 2011
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This time last year I was so excited about Cate Tiernan's new series `Immortal Beloved' after a few years of no releases. So to find myself only feeling lukewarm towards the first book cooled down expectations of the 2nd instalment, but hopes of recapturing my interests due to the unique concept of the series led me to pre-order it anyway. I was fortunate enough to receive my copy before Christmas, sadly the hope of gripping my attention enough to desperately want the next book (out in January 2013) was sadly not to be.

Continuing on several weeks after book 1, Nastasya is still at River's Vale amongst other immortals hoping to rehabilitate their previous bad behaviours and 'darkness' in order to be born anew. It's a new year so a new start is upon them, however for Nastasya her new year begins with a downward spiral. Not only is her magick seemed to making every spell go wrong, but she also loses her job, her very few human friends, feels unable to open up to her love interest Reyn and visions of her past are continuously coming back to haunt her. Just as she reaches breaking point and flees the farm, she bumps into an old friend, and with him comes old habits that are hard to break plus a few new ones...

For those who found the first book very slow moving and not containing many actual events happening, they'll most likely feel the same about this instalment until the 3rd act when Nas is removed from the farm and witness some very horrible events (some of the goriest I've seen in a Cate Tiernan novel). The first 2 acts do take place within the farm with lots of flashbacks padding out Nas' back-story and giving her new perspective in her current world. I personally found the slower pace of the first book quite intriguing compared to what you find in today's YA section; although it did grind a little towards the end I found myself sucked into Nas' journey of self discovery because of her amusing commentary, interesting view on everyday actions and sarcastic humour. Nas was a different kind of heroine, in personality and history, even if she plays to certain stereotypes (being special and not realising, for example) she was nevertheless a great voice to listen to. Sadly, her captivating personality is much squashed in Darkness Falls; as she descends deeper into depression she becomes less fun and more annoying; whinging, continuously crying and repetitively saying she's full of darkness and nothing can change that. Whilst the emotions are understandable regarding what she's going through, it nonetheless makes the slow pace and lack of stuff happening much more apparent and boring to read through, especially since she doesn't evolve that much as a character from the first book until the very end. Also, I highly enjoyed Nas' interactions with the other humans such as Drey due to the chemistry and adding something outside of the world of magick - again this is cut off when one human friend is not seen again after the opening chapter and another barely speaks to her due to her being as depressed and angry as Nas.

The other problem I had, as a long term Cate Tiernan fan, is that the plot was not only predictable but also done before in her own books. The circle in the beginning of the book where Nas casts out power with unforeseen consequences - seen in book 1 of Wicca/Sweep. The constant thinking that she is 'evil' and destined to do bad things - character arc for Morgan from Wicca/Sweep books 7 - 8. The stealing of energy from one living thing to empower another - explored in greater detail in Balefire. I already mentioned the reuse of language in my review for the first Immortal Beloved and it doesn't stop here. I do love Cate Tiernan, she has a very unique writing style and anyone who hasn't read her previous books (quite likely, she's not as well-known as some YA writers) won't pick up on my views. I know she loves writing about magical worlds but after this series I'd love for her to write something completely different, because it's getting to the point where I'm not going to want to read her future books because I know I would just be reading the same content over and over again.

To give credit where it's due; the love interest Reyn is vastly improved from the first book, still a little forceful when it comes to the love scenes but at least he's given more lines so we can actually learn more about him and he helps towards the finale. River is still a delightful and complex character; her detailed visions of her past form the best parts of the book. Plus, as I mentioned previously Cate does step out of her comfort zone towards the end with a gruesome climax - not for the faint hearted but definitely different from what Tiernan has delivered before.

Darkness Falls has more going for it than Immortal Beloved did content wise but the lack of quick wit that the heroine won me over with in favour of teenage angst made me skim read a lot of this book. Plus Cate's recycled elements from her other series spins a predictable plot, enough to make me feel reluctant to pick up the 3rd book in a hurry.

Secrets of the Tudor Court
Secrets of the Tudor Court
by Darcey Bonnette
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.99

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable but not without faults, 2 Dec 2011
I have a high interest in the Tudor period of English history, but I've not read much fiction on it. I picked this up because it came as a recommendation from my mother-in-law (who IS very much into historical fiction) and decided to read something a bit different on my train journeys into work. The story follows Mary Howard - a young girl who comes to court to serve Anne Bolyen just as she's about to come into power, as her father plots to bring his family into the King's favour. As she becomes betrothed to the King's illegitimate son, slowly her life descend into chaos.

Mary Howard isn't exactly a pair of eyes that's seen through on a regular occasion, all the books I've seen have been from the wives of Henry but Mary serves as an outsider looking in and offers a unique spin on the royals. The book is told from a first person perspective of Mary herself but the opening and closing chapters are narrated by her mother. The text sometimes reads like its lifted out of a history book with its dates and descriptions, other times I feel like I'm reading Mary's diary with all her emotional drivel. I noticed also the odd jumps in time between paragraph breaks; sometimes only days pass whilst in most cases whole years whiz by in a matter of words. As I haven't read the likes of Philippa Gregory, I can't comment on whether the text is taken from another book or not, and I didn't take much note or offense to the incorrect language used for the time period as I have read much worst from much more incompetent writers, but overall I found it easy to read and keep up with what's going on.

Mary herself is an....unique protagonist; based upon a historical figure that somehow escape being Henry's 7th wife, not having any children and living to a old age (at the time) and not normally looked at by historian, I was intrigued by her story and found myself liking how some of her trials and terrors actually happened in real life. I was half expecting for it to be like The Tudors and take liberties to the extreme (for the record I still enjoyed that TV programme) by from what I can gather it's all based on reality. However I found her character a little weird and irritating at times. Her ability to shed tears at a drop of a hat got tiresome to read by halfway through the book, and her odd relationship with her father was, admittedly, intriguing but I can see why some people would be put off by certain scenes with the pair of them. Mary was likable and relatable at times but not someone I admired whole-heartily.

On the whole I did enjoy the book, I wouldn't read it again but I would consider picking up other historical fiction in the future. If like me you weren't expecting anything authentic and just light reading, Secrets of the Tudor Court will serve you well.

Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10