Blog Tour: The Shadow Girl by Misty Mount (Review & Giveaway)

The Shadow Girl Blog Tour

The Shadow Girl
by: Misty Mount

The Shadow Girl

Genre: YA/Fantasy/Coming of Age

Date Published: December 28, 2017

Synopsis

Shy, thirteen-year-old Zylia has always known she was different. Most teenagers feel unnoticed and unseen, but for Zylia, it’s something much worse. She’s disappearing from this world and doesn’t know how to stop it. At times, she’s not sure she wants to. Until she stumbles across a family mystery surrounding the disappearance of her great-aunt Angelica years earlier. During her quest to unravel the mystery, Zylia discovers she’s able to cross the boundary and enter the “in between” world. Now, it’s up to Zylia to save herself before she’s trapped “in between” forever.

Goodreads

the shadow girl

Review

Its been a while since a novel has taken me by surprise and The Shadow Girl definitely did do that. In its own unique way, it portrayed somewhat of a creepy fantasy world that happens to those who fall into the shadows or are invisible to the people around them or at least feel that they are and struggle to find ways to be seen as well as acknowledge their own presence. With that said, the message behind this novel is a very strong one especially when bookworms like myself struggle with a similar sort of scenario particularly when I was growing up. The desire to dive into the fantasy world is so strong. The Shadow Girl portrays that really well with her unique character of Zylia who grows up in a packed household full of kids and as she learns more about being in the shadows, she also realizes that she isn’t alone and being the strong character that Misty Mount has build, she makes decisions that will affect her fate. The story and the angle taken here is definitely the strength of this novel.

The novel did take a little while to take off as it set its stage. However, the slow start did help better understand the characters and the backstory while leaving out a little mystery as the plot thickened, The Shadow Girl became quite a page turner. There was a slight writing style inconsistency in certain parts but overall, the language used her was descriptive and vivid. I could almost feel Zylia’s emotions as well as the things she sees. Its always nice to see a YA novel that dives into the coming of age angle instead of a romantic and adventure sort of style. This dives into something much more realistic even if there are fantasy elements and focuses heavily on the underlying message it tries to bring up. Don’t get me wrong that there is an adventure because a personal journey and what happens to The Shadow Girl is absolutely a completely different type of adventure.

Goodreads score: 4/5

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Author Bio

Misty Mount

Misty Mount has written since age five and was first published at fourteen. By day she’s a caregiver, wife, and mother to a young son but during the quiet hours of night she becomes a novelist. She resides in Wichita, Kansas.

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GIVEAWAY

Giveaway: 1 print copy of The Shadow Girl and 2 digital copies
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*Print copy is available to North American residents only

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Valentine’s Marathon: Splash (1984)

Sorry for taking a little while to get back to the Valentine’s Marathon.

The next movie is Splash! Ultimate 70s blogathon has just started up and as I go and rewatch my 70s choice, I was thinking about last year’s blogathon and a few movies that someone else chose and I hadn’t seen. Luckily Splash landed on Netflix recently so I got a chance to check it out.

Let’s check it out!

Splash (1984)

splash

Director: Ron Howard

Cast: Tom Hanks, Daryl Hannah, Eugene Levy, John Candy, Dody Goodman

A young man is reunited with a mermaid who saves him from drowning as a boy and falls in love not knowing who/what she is. – IMDB

I think about this movie and I start wondering about how I’ve never actually disliked Tom Hanks, in fact, I usually like a lot of his films but then, I also never seem to watch a lot of them or do I make any deliberate move to see his films and then they always turn out to be surprisingly entertaining (or of late, quite grim and intense like Bridge of Spies). I have been meaning to catch up with a lot of older movies of late and Splash is just the start of it all. Splash is a fun little movie, in fact I think that it was fun mostly because I love movies like this where someone who doesn’t understand the human world enters it and then learns about it and in turn does a lot of funny things. Do I think that the romance between the two characters were incredibly unforgettable? I wouldn’t say that but the journey through it was fun enough and it had a lot to do with what was scripted for the mermaid here to do.

splash

Taking a look at the cast here, its a pretty nice one. For one, I always liked to watch older Tom Hanks movies because they were more light-hearted and much more fun to dive into. Splash is absolutely no exception as he plays Allen, a man who honestly doesn’t really know much about loving someone but somehow this unknown beautiful creature that is incredibly forward pops up in his life and suddenly, even her weirdest things makes him curious and feel love. In that sense, both Tom Hanks and Daryl Hannah give off really fun and genuine performances for their characters. There were awkward and funny moments and that was really where all the charm was. I’m going to say right now that I don’t think I’ve actually seen John Candy in anything until this movie and his role wasn’t really significant but he’s a fun character and same goes for Eugene Levy as Walter Kornbluth who tries to prove the existence of mermaids in any way possible, many times making a fool out of himself.

Overall, I don’t really have a lot of thoughts on Splash. I thoroughly enjoyed the film and had a lot of fun watching it. The love story was pretty cute but the comedy here definitely stood out more than the romance. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that since its some fun comedy and that works well for my preferences. I actually thought that the mermaid here worked so well. It was pretty believable and not to mention the star here does go to Daryl Hannah in her role as Madison who has some really hilarious scripted parts.

Valentine’s Marathon: Twilight (2008)

Twilight’s kind of our highlight feature for February so I’ll group it in with the Valentine’s Marathon since its really a love story more than its a vampire story. So we’re getting back on track. The love and Valentine’s theme has definitely been there even if I haven’t been reviewing as many movies as I’d like.

Funny thing about Twilight is that I actually watches about 85% of New Moon on a flight and it was the reason that solidified why I honestly wanted to stay away from this franchise. It doesn’t help that I have stood in the bookstore on more than one account over the years and tried to read Twilight and never made it past the first two pages. I chalk that up to Stephanie Meyer’s writing style not being my cup of tea.

Let’s get right into it and check out Twilight!

Twilight (2008)

Twilight

Director: Catherine Hardwicke

Cast: Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, Anna Kendrick, Michael Welch, Billy Burke, Ashley Greene, Cam Gigandet, Rachelle Lefevre

With what I said in the opening, I have never read the source material and probably never will seeing as my love for YA has diminished over the years. I went into Twilight expecting it to be bad and having really low expectations. While I have a bunch of criticisms which I will get to in a moment, Twilight’s faults were actually having nothing to do with the faults I originally thought it would have based on my experience of New Moon. Maybe its the low expectations of the film going in, but it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be.

I am going to go into the strengths of the film first. The original faults that I thought the film would have was Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson, the beloved Bella Swan and Edward Cullen, the stars of the show. In fact, they have quite a lovely chemistry (when they aren’t talking and we will look at dialogue in the next paragraph) except for that scene above which let’s just say was both cheesy and over the top. The cast here also has some great moments and characters like Bella’s dad is Billy Burke (who I like quite a bit) and the ultimate villains are a trio but the standout here is Cam Gigandet and Rachelle Lefevre. The latter having a short but still quite sinister role. The whole Cullen clan has some familiar faces and they are a fun group for the little time we do spend with each of them. Then, Bella’s friends include Anna Kendrick who I have never seen play such a teenage role like this one but does pull it off fairly well. Twilight has moments that work to be a lot of fun to watch: the baseball game, the treetops, saving Bella moments and then a few scattered here and there.

twilight

A movie however should be made up of more than just moments and chemistry. The dialogue here is where Twilight falls apart the most. It had a nice cast of characters which seemed okay for their set-up so that future instalments could explore more in-depth but the moment they started talking, particularly the moments with Bella and Edward which had the most weight was also incredibly cringe-worthy. This is coming from me who enjoys and tolerates Nicholas Sparks movies. It brought up a lot of eye-rolling and face-palming moments. Then the dialogue also brings up the story here. On the surface, it works alright in the nice quiet moments then Edward will go and say something like “I like watching you sleep” or “I feel very protective of you”. Look, I’m a romantic and all but if some random dude (meaning just some guy I don’t know much about), no matter how mysterious he seems, that I just started dating said those things to me, the stalker and possessive alarm goes off in my brain (sure, maybe a little less alert when I  was in high school probably). Something else that bothered me was the constant desire to spin the camera around a scene or cut through a scene abruptly from one angle to the next. It mostly got really frustrating and annoying. And, while this is from the original source, I couldn’t help but finally know what the deal with sparkling vampires were and its quite lame. I get the desire to give a new twist to the traditional vampires as many different vampire stories over the years have attempted but sparkling vampires have got to be the one that I can’t buy into and then Bella goes and says that Edward is beautiful or something and I’m like, nope.

twilight

Overall, Twilight was better than expected. Still very much flawed in many ways, story, dialogue and camera work didn’t quite work for myself but there are some nice characters here which could use a little more development but the chemistry between Bella and Edward is quite good (even if they look awkward a ton which kind of grew on me). I already know what to expect in New Moon and knowing that the franchise started better than the second one at least hopefully links some plot points together but who knows, I don’t remember much of New Moon other than where it was set.

Check back soon-ish for the sequel soon! 🙂

Double Feature: Colossal (2016) & Flatliners (2017)

Time for a little non-Valentine’s Day double feature. Its been a little bit of an overloaded day. But I’m falling behind and really want to catch up. We can all take a little break from the marathon and on lovey-dovey films for a while. Plus, Colossal and Flatliners have been sitting for a week or two in my queue and I really wanted to get it out of the way. I am slowly also catching up with 2017 movies whenever they are available. Colossal is on Netflix so let’s check these two out!

Colossal (2016)

colossal

Director (and writer): Nacho Vigalondo

Cast: Anne Hathaway, Jason Sudeikis, Dan Stevens, Austin Stowell, Tim Blake Nelson

Gloria is an out-of-work party girl forced to leave her life in New York City and move back home. When reports surface that a giant creature is destroying Seoul, she gradually comes to the realization that she is somehow connected to this phenomenon. – IMDB

I heard so many great things about Colossal before I sat down to watch it and still didn’t really know what it was all about. However, I’m a fan of Anne Hathaway and it looked pretty fun so here we are. Nacho Vigalondo is an odd director to say the least. He writes these scripts that go in one direction and then take a sudden change in direction, particularly in tone, super fast. I felt that way about Open Windows (review) and I feel that way about Colossal. However, Colossal is an pretty incredible movie. As I think about it more, the more I feel that this movie was done so well. In the beginning, Anne Hathaway’s Gloria is somewhat of a wreck and she meets Oscar, played by Jason Sudeikis back in her hometown and they become friends along with a few of his buddies. Everything is fine and dandy as they get her settled in as she tries to rekindle her romance with Tim (Dan Stevens) to prove that she’s taking control of her own life. At the same time, they soon realize that there is a monster terrorizing Seoul and its one that has returned after many years before which she soon learns is linked to her.

Colossal relies a lot on surprising its audience with the unknown factors and taking it those twists it shows. As crazy as the ideas here are, it works really well together. The tone shift works to the advantage of the film. The main cast is truly focused on Anne Hathaway and Jason Sudeikis and boy, do they deliver in spades. That is probably the best part of the film as we watch these two characters develop as the story unfolds. Its truly quite awesome! The uniqueness of the story and the elements it puts together is just pure fun.

Flatliners (2017)

flatliners

Director: Niels Arden Oplev

Cast: Ellen Page, Diego Luna, Nina Dobrev, James Norton, Kiersey Clemons, Kiefer Sutherland

Five medical students, obsessed by what lies beyond the confines of life, embark on a daring experiment: by stopping their hearts for short periods, each triggers a near-death experience – giving them a firsthand account of the afterlife. – IMDB

Before I start, I guess its good to note that I haven’t seen the original yet therefore I have no comparison to how this remake or reboot or whatever you call it, is. With that said, Flatliners is one of those movies that makes you feel a little let down. On one hand, I’m pretty happy with the cast themselves. Ellen Page and Diego Luna should be a seller already. Add in some TV stardom from Nina Dobrev who is slowly moving into more films in 2017 with XXX: The Return of Xander Cage early in the year and some other films here and there before that, she just seems to need the right movie to show off that she’s more than Elena from The Vampire Diaries. The idea and concept behind Flatliners is a really neat idea. The idea of encountering death and facing something that shouldn’t be crossed as they treaded darker and darker into some kind of limbo as they tested the boundaries. It was all very clever in the beginning. And that is exactly the problem here, the plot dies out so fast. It just starts going downhill because the movie loses its objective and its momentum and seems to fall flat as the cycle of them reviving each other was pushing further to the boundaries but the cycle was always the same over and over again.

Flatliners seems to forget which genre it wants to embrace. On one hand, it has moments of thriller/horror elements but those never last long enough other than jump scares to make it feel very effective. The dark limbo world they go to worked for a while until it was very predictable to see what was going to happen next. The characters also didn’t have much development. Sure, there was a slight understanding of their personal dark secrets but its all very on the surface because the rest of the time when they were dying or reviving each other, they were drowning in their liberated mind drinking and partying with less and less clothes on. If thats what an added knowledge means, then maybe this experimental revelation might be a little wasted on this group of medical students.

I really wanted to like Flatliners and it started out pretty strong. I only wished it had managed to keep that momentum and develop their characters more. In general , it all dials down to their execution. This was quite the disappointing movie unfortunately.

Cinder (The Lunar Chronicles #1) by Marissa Meyers

Goodreads Challenge progress: 2 out of 25

Next up in the reading adventures is Cinder, which is the first book in The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyers. I’ve heard some really great stuff about this book. However, there is always a fear nowadays as I’m starting to realize that I’m breaking away personally from the YA books and starting to not enjoy them as much, but this book does have the twist on a fairy tale that I have yet to break out of.

Let’s check it out!

Cinder (The Lunar Chronicles #1)
by: Marissa Meyers

Cinder

Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth’s fate hinges on one girl.
Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world’s future. – Goodreads

Consider me a little biased but I love it when people manage to twist up something and then set it into somewhere in China. In this case, the setting is in New Beijing and for the most part, there are some fun little bits to make it all work out in this new setting. Props to Marissa Meyers for her wonderful world building for this futuristic world where people are living on planets and much like history repeats itself, New Beijing is plagued with a disease that the kingdom is trying to find a cure for. However, the twist here is that there are also cyborg-like people which have been mended back through robotics to function making this part human and part cyborg and that is what our main character Cinder is. The world and characters here are very much livened up because of Marissa Meyers fantastic descriptive writing style. She manages to paint the world so that the reader can see in their heads what is going on.

Aside from that, Cinder is a very well-constructed character. She has quite the character and has a nice balance between her emotional sensitivity and her intelligence which works well for her story here. She has to keep certain secrets as she learns more about her background while adapting to the new situations she gets caught up in whether with her stepmother/guardian or her sisters or the prince or even the Queen of Luna. On top of that, we also see where Prince Kai stands in this mess as he figures out the dilemma he is faced with when the disease takes away his father and what seems like the only solution tests who he can actually trust in the kingdom. There are conflicts and secrets and mysteries at every turn. While there are more than enough clues to hint at what the end game is making it slightly more predictable than I would have like, it still is fairly clever for what the story it is trying to tell.

Cinder was an absolute page turner. In fact, I can’t remember the last time I read a Young Adult novel and was that caught up in a story. There is a great world-building and character arcs and while this book focuses on Cinder, the next books in the series will introduce other popular fairy tale characters and their twists. It seems that they will eventually cross paths as this one also introduces another fairy tale character. Its definitely one I’m looking forward to reading the second book.

TV Binge: Once Upon a Time (Season 5, 2015)

Moving right along in the incredible attempt to catch up with Once Upon a Time, I wrapped up Season 5. Once Upon a Time continues to twists up some of the tales and puts together some interesting pairings which is one thing that I love the most about the show. Plus, after so many years, its hard to not love a lot of the characters. It also helps that last year I did end up going to visit the little town that its shot in in Vancouver and totally fangirled which makes seeing Storybrooke so much more personal (in my mind).

Once Upon a Time (Season 5, 2015)

once upon a time s5 poster

Creator: Adam Horowitz & Edward Kitsis

Cast: Lana Parrilla, Robert Carlyle, Jared Gilmore, Jennifer Morrison, Ginnifer Goodwin, Josh Dallas, Colin O’Donoghue, Emilie de Ravin, Rebecca Mader, Sean Maguire, Liam Garrigan, Greg Germann

 Maybe its the fact that hopping back to this that I forgot how packed Once Upon a Time but Season 5 feels like there is a vast amount of characters that traverse the path in the few villains they do cross. As a little season 5 recap, the season picks up where the 4th ends with Emma taking the responsibility to be the Dark One and gets sent back to The Enchanted Forest. The rest of her family finds a way back and they eventually end up in Camelot where they meet King Arthur and Queen Guinevere. They have a secret to complete that involves the search for the Dark One. Somehow they get sent back to Storybrooke and Emma has lost the fight and has embraced has her dark side while wiping away everyone’s memory. A course of events sends Hook to the Underworld where they also follow and get trapped by Hades and confront some of their own people they have lost. When they do find a way back to Storybrooke, they get tricked and sent to The Land of Untold Stories where they meet the infamous Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. I think that about covers the general outline.

once upon a time s5

Season 5 is crazy packed as everyone embarks on a journey about their value and whether they are good and evil and being okay with who they are. Some extremities are taken which of course take a turn for a bad the lingers into the next season. Fairy tales are about happy endings and if Once Upon a Time has taught us anything, its that they are quite the rare occurrence in the show especially when it involves Regina and Emma. Being the Savior or a Villain both doesn’t give you the merit to have the happy ending. However, Season 5 may feel packed but its great to see the twists on these characters. In fact it expands on these characters as they also meet Merida and help her with her quest to become queen of Dunbroch.  We flash back to see Mulan and Red Riding Hood and Dorothy and their connection to everything. Of course, it wouldn’t be this show without Rumplestiltskin and his secrets along with trying to get back Belle which also sees a twist on her story and Gaston. Snow also once knew Hercules as well. We see some characters exit the show as well as the Underworld allows some characters to eventually either move on in a good or bad way. Thinking back to the season feels really busy but at times, that is what works to keep us on our toes and always learning that this world still has a lot to offer as they can breakaway from the fairy tales as well as take characters from classics. That is the magic of why I love Once Upon a Time.

once upon a time

The villain this season did have quite a spark. I have to say that in the few times that I’ve seen Greg Germann, he’s always been so fun to watch. This time, he plays Hades and not only does he resemble how Hades looked in Disney’s Hercules but he does take on that villainous role really well. Talking about villains, while I did enjoy the whole Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde bit, the way Mr. Hyde talked was so grating and annoying. If anything, that was the only thing I didn’t like about this season. Once Upon a Time also has these villains that are truly horrible and ruthless. However, they also have this story that gives them a moment of hope for redemption and its always that unknown of whether it will happen or not. Another point of why I do like Once Upon a Time a lot is dealing with the character development and this season may be busy but a lot of the characters had their moment to truly see their thoughts and things they haven’t been able to let go of and in many ways, they did embrace themselves.

once upon a time

Overall, Season 5 was a lot of fun. While you could argue that the huge amount of characters made the story very scattered, somehow it still works very well to keep it fun and adventurous to watch as our characters grew and truly embraced issues that bothered them and confronted their monsters both mentally and physically. A really nice collection of villains and heroes in Season 5 and I’m looking forward to watching Season 6.

Daguerrotype (2016)

Daguerrotype (2016)

Daguerrotype

(original title: Le secret de la chambre noire)

Director (and screenplay): Kiyoshi Kurosawa
Cast: Tahar Rahim, Constance Rousseau, Olivier Gourmet

When an assistant to a daguerreotypy photographer falls in love with the latter’s daughter the relationship mirrors the art form as love and pain combine. – IMDB

Even though I have only seen Pulse from Kiyoshi Kurosawa, its safe to say that he is a director who takes his time to build atmosphere. Daguerrotype takes on quite the same style as Pulse to be honest which is a good thing. For his first film outside of Japan, Daguerrotype is safe as it plays with a ghost story, slow pacing and builds on the atmosphere to create an uneasiness in this fantasy drama with horror elements. As an indie film, it does a lot of things right especially using a classic photography theme as its main focus. Some cultures believe that photography snaps away your soul and it uses this point as a centre of making his subject immortal, (at least that is what I make of it). Perhaps that is where the inspiration comes from. Classic photography and building the big contraption is definitely the eerier parts of Daguerrotype and adds this older style and mystery.

daguerrotype
The outstanding elements of Daguerrotype is its atmosphere and the setting. It uses a dark and gloomy setting. This matches well with its characters which seem torn in their will to each break free in their own way. The camera does a great job at panning out and zooming in whenever necessary to capture and reveal what it wants to show. There was especially one part where it follows a character that is particularly immersive. It uses lighting very well to create the uneasy moments. The soundtrack is used appropriately  with a beautiful orchestral piece in various parts however still uses a mix of subtle and abrupt sounds to immerse its viewers during quieter scenes. While it may seem a little cliche and overdone, Daguerrotype uses the classic creaky doors opening slowly to create uneasy moments.

daguerrotype
Daguerrotype also has a pretty decent cast. Tahar Rahim plays Jean, the young man here who gets the job as a photographer assistant because of his inexperience and a general interest for photography. He is the main character and the script writes him quite in depth as we see many personality qualities of his. The story only does have about six roles aside from the small cameos roles with three being the leads. Playing opposite Jean is his photography obsessed boss, Stephane who has an unusual love for Daguerrotype photography which requires its models to stand for a long time motionless and uses a contraption to aid them. Stephane is played by Olivier Gourmet and he does a great job at capturing the grumpy perfection seeking artist with his own secrets. Stephane’s only perfect subject is his daughter Marie, played by Constance Rouseeau, who is a shy and quiet girl with a love for botany and struggles between going to pursue her dreams or staying to accompany her father and being his model.

The bottomline is that Daguerrotype does many things right however it is for the most patient of viewers. At over two hours run time, the story moves very slowly and sometimes might feel like the plot is lost in the little details and sidetracks making it feel fragmented and doesn’t come together however, it is also these fragments that may give this story something to think about after its finished. For horror fans, this might not fit the bill as it doesn’t have a lot of scares but more uneasy atmospheres and is more of a fantasy drama. However, Kurosawa’s skills of atmosphere, setting and tone along with the decent cast here that carries their role well are all good reasons to give Daguerrotype a watch.

Opening on VOD Nationwide on Tuesday, November 7 on all major platforms including iTunes, Sony, Google Play, Amazon, Microsoft, Vudu, Comcast, Charter, Cox, Vimeo, and various other cable operators.