The Red Road (TV series)

the_red_roadOn a whim I decided to watch The Red Road on Netflix and was pleasantly surprised. It has a dreary sort of atmosphere reminding me of The Killing. I kept thinking that at any moment Linden and Holder were going to come out and start questioning people. Despite the show being very easily paced, every episode felt surprisingly quick. My friend kept asking if it was only a half hour show, but each of the six episodes were about 45 minutes each. It is a Sundance TV original series that started in February of last year.

It starts with a college student gone missing in the Ramapo Mountains in Walpole, New Jersey. We see local cops like Harold Jensen (Martin Henderson) looking for evidence as to his whereabouts.  We also see Phillip Kopus (Jason Momoa) breeze back into his hometown after a long absence, asking about the missing boy. We get the feeling he is not with the cops…all we know is that his father sent him and probably drugs are involved. In a side story there is a Romeo and Juliet sort relationship with a Lenape boy and the daughter of the Jensens whose mother seems to have a hatred for the tribe. This side story soon turns into a much bigger, complicated issue that soon causes problems for everybody. In fact it’s the trigger that catapults everything into motion.

This show is just the right amount of tense drama; there are no overly violent or gratuitous sex scenes. Don’t get me wrong, there are some fight scenes but mostly they pull away pretty quickly. This show is a mix of The Killing and True Detective; whereas sometimes The Killing episodes seemed too long and True Detective would sometimes meander to the point where I was confused about things, I feel The Red Road is short and to the point. It is a lighter version of some of the heavier dramas, but I feel it is full of emotion…kind of like Breaking Bad was full of emotion despite the grit. The acting on all sides was so well-played. I saw this through Netflix and I’m not sure if they are playing reruns on the Sundance channel, but if there is any way you run into it I think you should give it a try. I definitely want to watch the second season when it starts on April 2nd.

*~Mild Spoilers Character Discussion~*

the-red-road-1Harold Jensen is a local cop in the fictional town of Walpole, New Jersey. We don’t really know what his deal is besides that it seems he and his wife are having some sort of problems. He seems an honest enough kind of man and pretty level-headed in comparison to his wife, Jean. Jean (Julianne Nicholson) is a recovering alcoholic, she seems withdrawn from her husband and overly protective of her daughter. Which at first seems okay, but then you start to wonder about her out right. Rachel (Allie Gonino) is the daughter that she is intensely worried about and rightly so…being that Rachel is the most infuriatingly rebellious daughter who manages to put herself into very alarming situations all the time. I pretty much hated her throughout.

I have to give Jason Momoa some praise because he gives such a strong performance as Phillip and even though he plays this threatening guy, you can feel that he is conflicted. He is without a doubt menacing but there is a vulnerability about him that is pretty strong. He is pretty confident in what he does and more than competent but when you see him put in scary situations you feel for him. In fact out of all the characters I feel for him more than any other. I don’t really feel that bad towards Harold besides the fact that he loves a woman who doesn’t seem to really care about him that much. Everything he does is for her and I don’t think she is worth it. She sure as heck doesn’t seem to appreciate it.

Another great performance was by Tom Sizemore who played Jack Kopus, Phillips father. Jack is so sleazy and creepy that just seeing him on-screen makes me itch. Anytime anyone went to his apartment I was freaked. He doesn’t even treat Phillip like a son either, more like a lackey and it’s sad to see Phillip trying to help his father when Jack doesn’t even seem to care about him personally.

The-Red-Road-TV-Series-image-the-red-road-tv-series-36650059-1024-683 I feel bad for Phillip and Junior because they are pretty much victims of their family poverty and bad environment. There are characters who seem to have made a decent life for themselves despite that, but still in Phillips case you can tell he wanted to live a straight safe life but everything was just working against him.

Phillips mom, Marie (Tamara Tunie) is a pretty straight character but even till the end I’m not sure how I feel about her and how she treats her biological son. He has to ask permission to hug her and she doesn’t seem to really feel anything towards him, despite the fact that he has only ever been sweet to her. She is raising Junior (Kiowa Gordon) who to this point I’m not even sure what he is to her. I think she just took him in when his parents died. He is pretty decent and kind-hearted and takes a real liking towards Phillip who he views as a brother and vice versa. I think it would have been easy for Phillip to feel resentful towards Junior who actually seems loved by a mother who doesn’t seem to love him, but Phillip seems to genuinely care about the boy. I mean despite the fact that he does involve Junior in some illegal activity; he seems to only include him when he really needs him. He tries to exclude him when he can.

When I step back from this drama it seems a show about family and the lengths one would go to protect and please. What road will you choose to take when things get rough? I think all these characters wish they had taken a different one.

 

 

A Star is Born by Sable Hamilton

23339905Scouted by stunt riders during a barrel-racing contest in her hometown, 13-year-old Kami Cooper comes to train at Stardust Stables with only the best of teachers. Leaving behind her family and her beloved horse Buttercup to train, Kami soon learns that stunt riding is one part talent and three parts hard work.

When Brad Morley, a renown movie director comes into town looking for two stunt doubles for the upcoming movie Moonlight Dream the excitement and nerves only rocket higher for Kami. Not only does she have to land all her stunts, she has to deal with jealous friends and the occasional sabotage from rival High Noon Stables which is also trying to land their own stunt doubles for Moonlight Dream. Will she be able to help fix the cash flow problems at Stardust Stables by nailing her audition? Will she be able to fly to California and work with a teen heartthrob?

It was fun to learn a little about stunt riders and what kind of stunts they practice and it was also great to learn about horses. I know that randomly I ran into some French trick riding competition on television the other day and was shocked by what I saw. A lot of the competitors looked like they were dancing and doing all sorts of flips and tricks on and around their horse. It was so beautiful and graceful. Every time I try to look it up I can’t find the exact name for what they were doing. It was like interpretive dancing or something. Anyway I thought it was cool to read this book after seeing performances like that.

It was interesting to read about the different horses in Stardust Stables and that each horse was better at different stunts than others. For example, some were better at working near fire and explosions, while others specialized in playing dead or with water stunts. I learned some horse tips here and there and found out that there are special equine aircrafts with stalls in them and everything. It was a fun and easy read. A Star is Born by Sable Hamilton is a sweet book. Any young girl with an interest in books and horses would love to read this.

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Note: I received a copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley.

Flunked (Fairy Tale Reform School) by Jen Calonita

21996359Flunked by Jen Calonita is a middle grade book full of creativity and surprises. Anyone who is a fan of fairy tales and wants to see some of the main villains reimagined is in for some fun. The Big Bad Wolf, Cinderella’s wicked stepmother, the evil sea witch, and the evil queen are now newly reformed professors at Fairy Tale Reform School (FTRS). Flora, Cinderella’s reformed wicked stepmother founded and now runs FTRS, where the motto and mission is to turn wicked delinquents and former villains into future heroes. They all live in the kingdom of Enchantasia where Cinderella, Snow White, Rose (Sleeping Beauty) and Rapunzel reign.

It is here where we meet our main character, 12-year-old Gillian Cobbler, who after three repeated offenses involving petty theft must be taken to FTRS. She is the shoemaker’s oldest daughter, and only steals to help feed her family after the fairy godmother started stealing business from her father. How can she possibly be an upstanding citizen when she feels her only way to get by is by being criminally mischievous?

After meeting Kayla and Jax on her first day at school she discovers that her 3 month stint can’t be so bad when you have friends and are receiving lessons on etiquette, fencing, snake charming, and other various activities. Until she can figure out her next move it seems that she will try to endure her time there. Of course nothing is as trivial as it seems, as something strange is happening at Fairy Tale Reform School and Gillian and her friends are determined to figure it out.

I thought everything about this book was cute including the cover. There were some pleasant surprises and creative retellings throughout the story and it was fun to run into familiar characters and see them put in situations where they had to teach a bunch of middle school delinquents. I think that most middle school children will like this book and it was a joy to read.

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Note: I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley.

Shadow Study (Soulfinders #1) by Maria V. Snyder

16130758I love Maria V. Snyder’s books. She always has just the right amount of romance, action, and mystery to make me happy. My all time favorite book of hers is Poison Study, and so I was excited to see she was starting a new series with Yelena and Valek, the main characters of her Study books. This Soulfinders series can be read without reading anything else from her, but I would read the Study series first just because I think you get a better grip on who the main characters are if you start from the beginning.

For those not familiar with these characters, Yelena is an official liaison between two territories, Ixia, a land where magic is banned and Sitia a land full of magicians and magic. She is also a Soulfinder, a person who finds lost souls and guides them to wherever they are to spend eternity. The problem arises when it appears that Yelena’s magic is gone completely, and the whole book we are trying to find out what has happened, who is trying to kill her, and also what the Commander in Ixia is up to. There is also a side story about illegal goods being shipped and who and how they are getting across that we have to figure out.  Along the way we get to meet some new characters and have some laughs when we get to read from Janco’s point of view. The thing about Maria V. Snyder’s books are that she really has a knack for making her side characters so interesting and loveable and so it’s nice to read about new characters that you know are going to be so awesome in the future.

I have to say that I was a bit disappointed because I was excited about reading more about Yelena and Valek, but yet again they seem to be apart for most of the book. Yes, they are really cool characters but I think they are better when they are together, and sadly this doesn’t happen. I was glad we got three different point of views, but when I started reading it, all I really cared about was Yelenas. Valek’s chapters had a lot of flash backs and they ended up being a bit boring for me. I have read though, that some people really liked reading about his past and how he became an assassin so I guess it’s just a matter of preference. Plus I have to say that Valek’s loyalty to the commander has always bothered me, and I dislike reading about it.

I’m not saying not to read or to give up on this series, I’m just saying this book felt like a set up for the next books (even though it had a tidy conclusion) and perhaps in the coming ones Yelena and Valek will be together.

So the bottom line is that if you are familiar with her Study series you will be happy to see the characters you love again, but it’s really just a book you read to get to the next one. For those who are new to anything Maria V. Snyder has written, then I would say start with Poison Study first, even though technically you don’t have to. Shadow Study will be released February 24th.

Also Shadow Study is out in audiobook over at Audible. I highly recommend giving it a listen. Gabra Zackman has been the narrator throughout the series and has consistently done a good job. Here’s a small clip to listen to…

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Note: I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley.

Audiobook: The Dragons of Dorcastle (The Pillars of Reality, #1) by Jack Campbell

23379243Details, Please (Publisher’s description)

“For centuries, the two Great Guilds have controlled the world of Dematr. The Mechanics and the Mages have been bitter rivals, agreeing only on the need to keep the world they rule from changing. But now a Storm approaches, one that could sweep away everything that humans have built. Only one person has any chance of uniting enough of the world behind her to stop the Storm, but the Great Guilds and many others will stop at nothing to defeat her.

Mari is a brilliant young Mechanic, just out of the Guild Halls where she has spent most of her life learning how to run the steam locomotives and other devices of her Guild. Alain is the youngest Mage ever to learn how to change the world he sees with the power of his mind. Each has been taught that the works of the other’s Guild are frauds. But when their caravan is destroyed, they begin to discover how much has been kept from them.”

So what?

While searching for something new to listen to I saw an advertisement for a book written exclusively for Audible and thought that it might be interesting. It’s depicted as a new epic fantasy saga and is written by Jack Campbell who already has a fan following with his many military science fiction/ space opera novels.

The Dragons of Dorcastle is about a world where Mages and Mechanics get to throw their weight around and treat everyone who is not in their guild like trash. It’s not even like the two major guilds get along, in fact the Mages and Mechanics hate each other. There is a lot about Mages not understanding technology and the Mechanics not understanding or believing in Magic. Each guild perpetuates lies and rumors about the other to the point that nothing said about each has any real truth. Any contact between the two is not encouraged and to a certain point could mean death.

It is with this knowledge that Mari, a Master Mechanic, and Alain, a Mage run into a conflict where both reluctantly have to work together; Mari being on a caravan that Alain is contracted to protect.

This book was interesting. At first I was not really paying attention until I became aware that, hey this is actually good… I really liked Campbell’s world and how he described the Mages. They are described as being taught to not display or feel any emotion and reminded me of robots. I’ve never read about mages like that.

It’s kind of steampunk and it’s just neat to see a world where mechanics and magicians are so important and are in conflict. Also a plus is that both protagonists are likeable in their own way, with Alain being brutally honest and not quite sure about the gamut of emotions he is experiencing, and Mari trying to live and fight for respect in a world where she is being looked down upon from every angle. There is a mystery and it’s fun trying to figure out what and who is behind all the trouble.

Perhaps I liked this book not just for the world building, but also because there is some romance. In The Dragons of Dorcastle the romance it isn’t trying to knock you over the head all the time. It’s mostly just sweet awkwardness here and there amidst the plot.

Having never read any of Jack Campbell’s science fiction books I don’t really know what to expect of his writing, but I think it is great that he wrote this YA fantasy. He did a really great job and I will definitely look into his Lost Fleet series.

Now, this is an Audible exclusive so I don’t think this is even published as a physical book. You can probably only hear it through Audible. If you already have an account I think it is worth a credit. If you are not sure then check out some more reviews before buying or getting a membership. Also check your local library to see if they carry the audiobook.

It is worth noting that MacLeod Andrews does a great job narrating and his voice is not irritating in the slightest. Audible lets you listen to some of it before buying.

The Dragons of Dorcastle Published December 2nd 2014 by Audible Studios on Brilliance Audio

Length: 11 hrs and 27 mins

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SNEAK PEEK of The Archived by Victoria Schwab

I really enjoyed Victoria Schwab’s The Near Witch last year so I was so excited when I was able to read a sneak peek of The Archived, only the first 100 pages, but oh so good. It makes me want to wear a key around my neck and carry chalk in my pocket.

Details Please (Publisher’s description)
Imagine a place where the dead rest on shelves like books.
Each body has a story to tell, a life seen in pictures that only Librarians can read. The dead are called Histories, and the vast realm in which they rest is the Archive.

Da first brought Mackenzie Bishop here four years ago, when she was twelve years old, frightened but determined to prove herself. Now Da is dead, and Mac has grown into what he once was, a ruthless Keeper, tasked with stopping often-violent Histories from waking up and getting out. Because of her job, she lies to the people she loves, and she knows fear for what it is: a useful tool for staying alive.

Being a Keeper isn’t just dangerous—it’s a constant reminder of those Mac has lost. Da’s death was hard enough, but now her little brother is gone too. Mac starts to wonder about the boundary between living and dying, sleeping and waking. In the Archive, the dead must never be disturbed. And yet, someone is deliberately altering Histories, erasing essential chapters. Unless Mac can piece together what remains, the Archive itself might crumble and fall.

In this haunting, richly imagined novel, Victoria Schwab reveals the thin lines between past and present, love and pain, trust and deceit, unbearable loss and hard-won redemption.

So What?
Like I said before I just read the first couple of chapters and was just barely scratching the surface of the story, but I can tell this will be a book to look out for. I really liked the whole premise about Mackenzie sending back the Histories that escape through the cracks in the Archive. Mackenzie has a start as a Keeper at a relatively young age and on top of that she is dealing with deaths in the family, and the lack of closure there. There is also Roland a really cool librarian who catalogs the dead, and hasn’t aged a day, and the mysterious Wesley with scars of his own. Also there are a whole lot of doors and shadows just waiting to be explored.

As a side note, have any of you seen the Japanese film Be with You, base off Takuji Ichikawa’s novel? When I started reading this that movie came to mind because in the film the mother dies and goes to a planet named Archive. I had always wondered why they named the planet Archive and now after reading this I understand. Two totally different things but I had such a eureka moment. Lol.

I’d like to imagine that Mio from Be With You escaped from the Archives in Victoria Schwab’s world and came back in the rainy season in Takuji Ichikawa novel.

Anyway,I believe that everyone is approved for the Sneak Peek on NetGalley so you guys should go seek it out. Then we can all patiently wait for January 22nd to come. So. Far. Away. :(

I can’t wait to read the whole story.

The Assassin’s Curse by Cassandra Rose Clarke

Details, Please (Publisher’s description)
Ananna of the Tanarau abandons ship when her parents try to marry her off to an allying pirate clan: she wants to captain her own boat, not serve as second-in-command to her handsome yet clueless fiance. But her escape has dire consequences when she learns the scorned clan has sent an assassin after her.

And when the assassin, Naji, finally catches up with her, things get even worse. Ananna inadvertently triggers a nasty curse — with a life-altering result. Now Ananna and Naji are forced to become uneasy allies as they work together to break the curse and return their lives back to normal. Or at least as normal as the lives of a pirate and an assassin can be.

So what?
I believe this is Clarke’s debut novel, and it makes me want to read more pirate books. Yes, please! Ananna of Tanarau wants to learn navigation, a ship of her own, her own armada and maybe become the richest woman in the world. Really, is that too much to ask? For an ambitious girl, Ananna wants to do so at her own pace and is not one of those cringe worthy characters who steps on everyone to get her way. She knows her worth, she isn’t superficial, and she can take care of herself (plus she has a cool pirate tattoo)…However, don’t ask me how to pronounce her name, I have no clue.

Naji on the other hand, for being an assassin has a bit of a complex. Don’t get me wrong, he is a pretty awesome character and is ultra-cool, but Ananna came across as the more reliable of the two. Both of them went through different places out of their comfort zone whether it be the desert, the ocean or some scary island both adapting well to whatever the venue. They had a mission to accomplish, and it was a joy to go along with them.

As far as assassin books go it’s much better than some of the most recent ones (Throne of Glass, I’m looking at you) and if you liked the Rain Benares Series by Lisa Shearin which is neither about pirates or assassins (but has both) you would really like The Assassin’s Curse.

So what do you get when you have a pirate and an assassin? Awesomeness.

Note: I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley.