Review

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.

Seraphina by Rachel Hartman

Details, Please (Publisher’s description)

Four decades of peace have done little to ease the mistrust between humans and dragons in the kingdom of Goredd. Folding themselves into human shape, dragons attend court as ambassadors, and lend their rational, mathematical minds to universities as scholars and teachers. As the treaty’s anniversary draws near, however, tensions are high.

Seraphina Dombegh has reason to fear both sides. An unusually gifted musician, she joins the court just as a member of the royal family is murdered—in suspiciously draconian fashion. Seraphina is drawn into the investigation, partnering with the captain of the Queen’s Guard, the dangerously perceptive Prince Lucian Kiggs. While they begin to uncover hints of a sinister plot to destroy the peace, Seraphina struggles to protect her own secret, the secret behind her musical gift, one so terrible that its discovery could mean her very life.

So what?

High Fantasy! I went on this kick last year trying to find recent YA, high fantasy books, and it was much harder than I thought. Sometimes with that genre I feel the book can drag on and on, but I didn’t feel that way with this book. Also as a plus there wasn’t an abundance of fight scenes or dream sequences that I usually associate with them. It is also neat that Seraphina is a musician and assistant to the court composer.

As for the world building there are a lot of customs and philosophers that are mentioned that just add to the book. It’s pretty cool when people ask who your psalter saint is, but what would you do if your psalter saint was a heretic? Another thing about this book is that it would be best if you kept a dictionary near you while reading. Can you tell me what ‘perspicacity’ means? I didn’t know and had to look it up, among other words…but that’s good, right?

If you are a fan of the Dragonriders of Pern series by Anne McCaffrey you might like Seraphina. It mostly reminded me of the same spirit as Dragonsong and Dragonsinger though. So check it out on July 10th.

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

Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion

I heard great things about Warm Bodies, but was very skeptical about a zombie romance book. Let me tell you right off, this isn’t a yucky kind of romance, something you would see on an episode of Taboo. It’s really just a quiet kind of love, a slow understanding of sorts between a zombie and the girlfriend of one of his victims.

Details, Please
Basically R is living his life in the way he’s accustomed, shuffling here and there, taking the occasional ride up and down the escalator, eating people, eating brains and experiencing other people’s memories…but on a certain night, he decides to keep a living girl safe, and not for a leftover snack. He honestly wants to protect her and I’m not sure he even fully understands why at first.

So what?
I listened to this on audiobook.I turned it on as background noise while doing homework and immediately got sucked in. I wasn’t expecting to be surprised. Needles to say I had to turn it off because then I couldn’t concentrate on my homework. I have to say that Kevin Kenerly does an amazing job narrating. I think listening to it really made me enjoy it so much more than if I had read it myself. I really encourage you to listen to it on your daily commute.

Basically a lot of what is narrated is in R’s head since he is unable to express it outwardly being a zombie and all, but for a dead guy R’s more alive than some living. I really loved R so much that sometimes the memories of other people made me want to rush past it, but I could tell that even those parts were needed in R’s story, because it wasn’t just about his journey. Also I can’t really say what happened at the end, because I’m not sure myself but it was an enjoyable experience getting to that point.This book could have been really corny, but it wasn’t. It was lyrical and poetic. It’s about what makes us human, about hope and tenacity.While writing this all I can think of are Albert Schweitzer quotes like:

“In everyone’s life, at some time, our inner fire goes out. It is then burst into flame by an encounter with another human being. We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit.”

 “A man does not have to be an angel in order to be saint.”

“The tragedy of life is what dies inside a man while he lives.”

Seriously, I probably have no idea what I’m talking about but quotes like that came to me when thinking about this book. I wouldn’t usually use the word “beautiful” in the same sentence as “zombie,” but you know, for a zombie book, it really is beautiful.

Touch of Power by Maria V. Snyder

Details, Please (Publisher Description)

Laying hands upon the injured and dying, Avry of Kazan absorbs their wounds and diseases into herself. But rather than being honored for her skills, she is hunted. Healers like Avry are accused of spreading the plague that has decimated the Fifteen Realms, leaving the survivors in a state of chaos.

Stressed and tired from hiding, Avry is abducted by a band of rogues who, shockingly, value her gift above the golden bounty offered for her capture. Their leader, an enigmatic captor-protector with powers of his own, is unequivocal in his demands: Avry must heal a plague-stricken prince—leader of a campaign against her people. As they traverse the daunting Nine Mountains, beset by mercenaries and magical dangers, Avry must decide who is worth healing and what is worth dying for. Because the price of peace may well be her life….

So What?
Maria V. Snyder is an author that no matter what she writes, I’ll read. I love her stories that much. Poison Study is still my favorite, but Touch of Power her ninth book comes closest in the overall feel of Poison Study. Avry is a tough, smart heroine and is just so cool. I mean every time she decides to heal someone it’s like a mini sacrifice that takes courage…and to do that for people you don’t even know is amazing. Plus she doesn’t let people order her around when it comes to healing.

One thing I really like about Ms. Snyder’s writing is that she is able to make even her secondary characters so lovable and almost as important at the main characters. The band of rogues in this book are so likable, and their eventual camaraderie with Avry is sweet. Most of the story takes place with them traveling through the forest, but it doesn’t drag. The pacing is just right. The romance doesn’t really kick in till the end, but the characters are just so interesting I don’t even mind.

The main villain, Tohon is someone you kind of want to feel sorry for until you realize he is just plain psycho. He acts like a deranged kid who just wants to win a popularity contest….or in this case gain all fifteen realms for himself.

If you like fantasy, cool magic, a weird healing system, giant plants that eat people, zombies, knife throwing and juggling then yeah, you might like this book 🙂

And Flea, I still have hope….

Excerpt:

“No. You’re worth more alive than dead.” He paused, knowing he had said the wrong thing. “I meant, I need you to heal someone for me. Once he’s better, you can go back into hiding or do whatever you’d like.” Although muffled, raised voices and the sounds of a commotion reached us. Kerrick glanced to his left. “But if you don’t come right now, there won’t be another chance.” He held out his hand.

I hesitated. Trust a complete stranger or remain in jail and be executed in the morning? If he was sincere, Kerrick’s offer meant I would have my life back. My life on the run. Not appealing, but that survival instinct, which had spurred me on these past three years, once again flared to life. What if he was lying? I’d deal with it later. Right now, it didn’t matter; living suddenly took precedence over dying.

I grabbed his hand. Warm calloused fingers surrounded mine. He tugged me down the corridor. I hadn’t been paying close attention when I had arrived, but I knew this way led to more cells. There was one door into the jail. And loud noises emanated from that direction. Fear twisted. Crazy how a few hours ago I hadn’t cared if I lived or died, but now a desperate need to live consumed me.

Warped by Maurissa Guibord

Details, Please
Having haggled with an older lady at an auction, Tessa now finds herself the proud owner of a couple of boxes of old books and an extra crate that contains a unicorn tapestry. After hanging it in her room she starts having odd dreams and memories of a unicorn hunt from a whole different time period. The Norns, who spin threads of Fate, are especially ticked off having suspected Tessa of stealing seven threads from them. Tessa doesn’t remember this, and what happens when she does pull a thread from the tapestry? Better yet, why is there a sixteenth century nobleman in her room?

So What?
Usually I would stay away from books with time travel and unicorns, but I think this book is creative and likable. It didn’t quite live up to all the hype surrounding it, but it was enjoyable nonetheless. I didn’t find it corny at all. The whole unicorn idea was believable, and I mean there are such things as unicorn tapestries anyway.

Also, the time travel was handled in a simplistic way and not at all confusing. Although, there were times where something was mentioned and I thought it would be important and then it wasn’t mentioned again… other than that, it’s a neat read. It’s lite fantasy and reminded me of a Disney Channel movie. So if Disney Channel movies appeal to you and you like the idea of unicorns and dragons, and a girl who lives above a bookstore give it a try on a gray day. Plus it’s a standalone.

Excerpt:

Up close, the tapestry’s deep, jeweled colors made kaleidoscope whorls of crimson and gold and emerald-green, while in the center, the unicorn, woven in milky white, blazed like a pool of moonlight against the dark.

“Gorgeous,” Tessa whispered.

It looked so real. The unicorn, with a long spiraled horn jutting from its tangled mane, was depicted rearing up on its hind legs as its front hooves raked the air. A violent, yet majestic strength was captured in the arched lines of its neck and the muscular shadows of its shoulders.

The unicorn was in a grassy clearing, hemmed in by denser forest. In the background a castle sat atop a distant hill, with turrets outlined against a brilliant blue sky. The scene, Tessa thought, was like something from a fairy tale. But definitely one of the darker ones. And probably not one with a happy ending. For she noticed that a dark cut was stitched on the unicorn’s cheek, and from it flowed two crimson drops of blood. The unicorn’s large golden brown eyes seemed to glitter. Tessa squinted. She felt strange, breathless.

She reached out and brushed her fingers over the tapestry. The threads were warm and soft, almost velvety beneath her touch. Then it happened.

A tingling sensation ran up her arm, quick and warm and so lightning fast Tessa didn’t have time to snatch her hand back. Suddenly everything was gone. The tapestry, the car, even the ground was gone.

It was as if a black fog had swept her up and was carrying her far away. She was drenched in darkness, blinded. But she could hear something. In the black fog, a voice spoke. Words swirled around her.

Through warp and weft, I bind thee. 

Probability Angels by Joseph Devon

This is my last entry for the R.I.P challenge.  I wasn’t able to do as much as I planned with school being so hectic but I really enjoyed participating and can’t wait to do this again.

Details, Please

The premise of Probability Angels sort of reminded me of City of Angels where there are angels walking around everywhere. You know, the scene where all the angels are in black trench coats at the beach at sunrise? That’s how I imagine these characters, except more mischievous and not in a good way really. I can’t say I warmed up to them immediately because they were tough to like. They definitely didn’t become probability angels because of their sainthood. However they did make an important selfless decision to become what they are. Matthew Huntington is still considered a noob in the angel world doing minor mischief like making foreigners fight over directions and encouraging a heart-broken man to go after his just married love. You know, that sort of thing.

We soon find that Matthew has to make an important decision to either shadow the life of a loved one and eventually fade, or move on to the next step and become a tester, a tester being someone who pushes a person to their moral breaking point. Which isn’t fun at all, but challenges reveal the man and eventually sharpen them. However if he chooses this route he is told what will happen once the tether snaps,

“You will know for certain that you are entirely alone on this earth, and that you are loved by no one. You will be cast adrift with no compass and no oar. Your brain will expand in ways you never thought possible, but your heart will remain frozen in the same place forever containing nothing but the memories of your two choices.”

Pretty harsh, right? Well he becomes a tester and meets some others like him Kyo, Mary, and Bartleby along with their trainer and strongest of them all Epp (Epictetus). Of course it’s at this point where they meet with some trouble. Hey even probability angels need some opposition as well. Another type of undead trouble is waiting for them.

Overall

My review really doesn’t go into the complexities of the book,but I will say things get pretty interesting. Most importantly for those of you who like zombies you might like this book. There’s an army of zombies. If you like to read about a group of paranormal misfits sort of like Dead Like Me, then you might like this. It took me a while to get into this book, but it was an interesting premise and pretty creative. The second book called Persistent Illusions came out this year as well. It’s getting pretty good reviews, so read this one first if you can.