Blog Tour: The Phoenix Cycle by Bob Collopy (Promo & Giveaway)

The Phoenix Cycle

The Phoenix Cycle: The Best Shall Rise
By: Bob Collopy

The Phoenix Cycle

Publication Date: June 23, 2017
Published by: The Department of Smoke
Genre: Dystopian/YA/Sci-fi

Synopsis

New San Francisco is the last city standing on a world ravaged by storms of ash and debris. The city survived by putting the ideals of the American dream on steroids and inspiring its people to persevere, though they have become ruthless in the process. Its citizens are ruled by the General, who has made sure that his people understand that gentleness and pity have become weaknesses that nature no longer tolerates.

Now Steve and Leslie must choose whether they will apply for the General’s once in a lifetime opportunity to “Rise from the Ashes” and join the Inner Circle that rules the city. If they don’t, they will be damned to spend the rest of their lives in the ghettos of Edinburg, a place where virtual reality has become a government-subsidized addiction.

For Steve, the choice is easy. His loyalties lie with the IRA, a revolutionary army led by a voice only known as “Mom.” They are trying to overthrow the General and free the people of New San Francisco from the cruelties of the City Guard. Steve’s mission is to broadcast a recording of a speech that a famous philosopher died to tell. Many thousands have and will perish to get this message out, but is anyone willing to listen?

Goodreads

Excerpt

Every wrist in the stadium beeped. Every boy and girl glanced down at the face of their watch. “00:10” then “:09” then “:08.” Everyone turned their heads to the west. There it was. Right on time, as always. The nightly storm. A wall of blackness had lurched up into the sky, swallowing the setting sun. The hairs on Steve’s neck stood up, urging him to get the hell out

of there.

Instead he grabbed Leslie’s hand, who sat quietly quivering next to him, instinctively pressing her bow into her head for comfort. Steve knew her shaking wasn’t coming from Line’s yelling, the storm, or even the tank pointing at them. Her quivers never came from the barrel of a gun, no, the ragging agony she held within her was the very same thing that pushed him back into the sheets when the sun finally rose—are we going to lose each other?

Leslie’s mind pushed the feeling away for at least another moment. “It’ll be all right,” she whispered. Her brown eyes guided him to the dozens of mortar tubes pointing upward and outward on the vibrant green field and then to the perfect line of churning ash that approached the stands.

“Unity can only be achieved and be maintained when it is the STRONG who come together and fly under one flag! We, like no other in the world, have created a unity that has never broken, has never FLINCHED! When the rest of the world saw THAT—” Line’s long arm pointed at the coming avalanche of black— “They all fell to pieces!”

The earth began to quake as the wall rose over them. Someone screamed. The mortars on the field fired as one at the roiling sky. The blackness spilled over the stadium, then slid over the perimeter of the frizzing wall of static that had encapsulated the field. No Phoenix Cycler had seen—only heard rumors from past Cycle Pref parties—this blackness that was sliding over and them whispering their deaths.

Purchase Link: Amazon

About the Author

Bob Collopy

Bob is pretty dope. Firstly, his name is Bob, so…yea. Second, have you seen him rock that suit while in a maximum security prison? Epic.

Yea. That’s Bob. No psychological scarring with that author. Nope. Totally fine.

Gosh he looks good in suits.

Hey Have you read The Phoenix Cycle? He wrote that.

One suggestion before you read it and become one of those fans that leaves him roses by his doormat. Read her slowly. This book is not Twilight. She’s deeper than that. Take your time with her. Show the book you care. Cradle it and make it feel loved. If you do, she’ll be good to you. Go too fast and you’ll have no idea why she’s acting so crazy.

Website
Facebook
Twitter
Goodreads
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Giveaway

The author is giving away 10 print copies (That’s right 10) and 5 Digital copies of his book so make sure you enter as the odds are definitely in you favor! (Giveaway will run from May 21st to May 30th)

Link

Blog Tour Organized by:

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Movies and Tea #3 – Event Horizon

Elwood and I head in to the 3rd movie of Paul W.S. Anderson’s career, Event Horizon.

Event Horizon might not have grabbed its audiences when it was first released but it sure has gathered quite a cult following since then. Probably the movie that inspired us to dive into this director’s career as we look at how Event Horizon stands for ourselves and so much more.

Head over to Movies and Tea Podcast to check it out!

Movies and Tea

Having finally achived commercial sucess with the release of Mortal Kombat Paul W.S. Anderson turned down the chance of directing the ill-advised sequel Mortal Kombat: Annihilation along with offers to direct the first X-Men movie. Instead Anderson choose the option to make an R-rated horror instead.

Unquestionably a risky move on Anderson’s part and ultimatly a vision which would feel the wrath of the censors sheers when his initial cut recived the kiss of death NC-17 Rating from the MPAA.

The film itself equal parts blue collar sci-fi and homage to his favourite horror films as a rescue crew uncover the secrets of this intersteller marie celeste of the title. The film intitally bombed at the box office only to find a significant cult following since its release especially as critics and audience have returned to re-evaluate Anderson’s filmography.

Continuing our own season long re-evaluation of Anderson’s filmography on this…

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Double Feature: Deidra & Laney Rob a Train (2017) & Equals (2015)

Time for the next double feature! I’m aiming for a double feature every week now! Exciting stuff, right? Yay to organization! As usual, these are quite alphabetical randomness. Deidra and Laney Rob a Train seemed like a fun movie and Equals seems like a more dramatic romantic thing. I’ve been having this desire to bring some justice to figuring out whether Bella is a bad character or whether its Kristen Stewart. You might see a few more of her movies popping up here as I try to find more of her movies depending on what Netflix has to offer obviously.

Let’s check it out!

Deidra & Laney Rob a Train (2017)

deidra and laney rob a train

Director: Sydney Freeland

Cast: Ashleigh Murray, Rachel Crow, Myko Olivier, Tim Blake Nelson, Danielle Nicolet, David Sullivan, Sasheer Zamata

After their mother ends up in jail, two sisters turn to train robbery in order to support their family. –IMDB

Heist, coming of age and a rag tag family brings together Deidra & Laney Rob a Train. Its about sisterhood and high schools as much as surviving and sustaining their living conditions. In many ways, Deidra and Laney Rob a Train was a pleasant surprise. While it had some flaws, the film was a lot of fun to watch. Their inexperience and how their youth brings in some interesting choices for their props and such in their robberies. At the same time, their family consists of a mom who breaks down at the beginning. Their dad turns out to be this bad influence full of bad records which poses as a bad father figure and can lead to why they are pushed into a rather extreme way to try to keep up with their expenses for the sisters. At the same time, the sisters here also show maybe not enough of their sister relationship but does give each of them their own space for the characters to grow as Deidra prepares to head to college and Laney tries to find the confidence she needs to see herself in a different way and not get trampled on and looked over.

At the same time, being a heist/crime film, these girls’ train robbing days are interrupted by the appearance of a train investigator (or whatever his title is) Truman who starts sniffing around to figure out who the perpetrators are as he hunts around. While Truman is somewhat of a goofball, his appearance only emphasizes how we’ve bonded with Deidra and Laney and start feeling a sense of anxiety for whether Truman will catch up with them and what will happen when and if he does.

With a fair share of fun and ambition, along with some coming of age plots and family, Deidra and Laney Rob a Train is a nice Netflix Originals to catch. It definitely exceeded my expectations and hits a lot of the feel-good moments with some of the humor here which works pretty well. All in all, a very worthy movie to check out.

Equals (2015)

equals

Director: Drake Doremus

Cast: Nicholas Hoult, Kristen Stewart, David Selby, Guy Pearce, Jacki Weaver, Kate Lyn Sheil

In an emotionless utopia, two people fall in love when they regain their feelings from a mysterious disease, causing tensions between them and their society. – IMDB

It seems that my connection to both Nicholas Hoult and Kristen Stewart performances are very one toned love stories, Warm Bodies and Twilight respectively. With that said, the story told here is something of a Romeo and Juliet forbidden love sort of scenario. The futuristic world achieves peace through eliminating emotions and feelings which are thought to be engineered between conception and birth so when someone has this, they have Switched-On Syndrome (aka SOS). Not surprisingly, Silas (Nicholas Hoult) and Nia (Kristen Stewart) both end up having different stages of SOS and are attracted to each other but need to hide it away. There’s a lot to like about Equals. The futuristic world and the idea of it works to a certain extent, the color palette in the scenes also complement to the mood a lot and then there’s the soundtrack that also works well, particularly in the scenes where Nia and Silas spend time together and embrace their feelings in secret.

However, there was a shred of weird sense as I watched Equals that something didn’t work and yet I couldn’t pinpoint what it was. Nicholas Hoult and Kristen Stewart was decent. They worked for the material provided to them. Although, there was a few scenes that Nicholas Hoult’s character felt odd in the beginning but did seem to grow on me as the movie moved along. Perhaps a portion of oddity had to do with the fact that this future had a lot of ignorance to make what seemed incredibly obvious between Silas and Nia especially as their feelings grew stronger and it feels slightly contrived. At the same time, the futuristic Romeo and Juliet does work except the ending felt like it wanted to be different but actually might have made it more predictable. Although, there is a supporting role with Guy Pearce and  personally like him a lot although his roles are usually not enough to show off his acting. Either way, I appreciated his role here.

Overall, Equals is an alright film. I have mixed feelings about it. Technically, cinematography, soundtrack and world building, it does such a great job but when it comes to the story, it is more generic which makes the characters and their acting also be reduced to more generic qualities. However, in the grand scheme of looking at Kristen Stewart works, this one is alright.

Ultimate 70s Blogathon Kick-Off: Alien (1979)

Ultimate 70s Blogathon officially kicks off today.

To get things started, my lovely cohost Drew from Drew’s Movie Reviews and I will be starting things off at both of our blogs today. To kick off the blogathon, I am reviewing Alien, a movie released nearly 40 years ago and started off a franchise that has been getting a revivial in the last few years. For that, it deserves its spot in this blogathon! For myself, this movie holds a significant spot as one of the first 70s film that I ever saw.

Lets check it out!

Alien (1979)

alien

Director: Ridley Scott

Cast: Sigourney Weaver, Tom Skerritt, Veronica Cartwright, Harry Dean Stanton, John Hurt, Ian Holm, Yaphet Kotto

After a space merchant vessel perceives an unknown transmission as a distress call, its landing on the source moon finds one of the crew attacked by a mysterious lifeform, and they soon realize that its life cycle has merely begun. – IMDB

Alien is a 1979 sci fi horror thriller directed by Ridley Scott. Everyone knows that but I honestly had no idea how to start off this review about such a popular movie. As much as it kicks off a franchise, the debate of whether this film or its sequel Aliens is better is almost inevitable. However, while both are very good in their own respects, Alien is one that has always got my heart. It really is quite iconic from both the perspective of its story, the atmosphere, the iconic female protagonist and its impeccably brutal alien Xenomorph, it hits a lot of elements perfectly.  Alien can sometimes feel slightly slower in its pacing but this also is where its tense thriller and horror-esque atmosphere is built so well.The darker environment and the mysterious mists here and there along with the foreign space they investigate create some rather creepy imagery right down to the epic face hugger scene and can only send chills down your spine.

alien

The predatory abilities of the Xenomorph is an unknown and as we follow the different characters and their different encounters, we learn a little more. Xenomorph is one of the outstanding parts of this film. Its a speciman to gain knowledge about and as it develops and transforms throughout the film, making a speechless villain have an incredible amount of presence both psychologically and physically.

Alien

A great villain needs to be met with someone worthy to fight them off amd here we have the femme fatale Ellen Ripley who really is the standout character in the movie. Everyone else just fills a spot but Sigourney Weaver’s role portrayal of Ellen Ripley is done so well. She’s tough and smart. The encounters are tense but she also knows how to feel quite real. You can almost say that she breaks the mold of the leading men and their badass role but taking on this tough lady role who fights for survival against this monster alien. As much as Ellen Ripley is a great character and the other supporting roles here as the other six crew members feel dispensable, there are still some decent performances delivered. Ellen Ripley played a voice of reason and the consequences of not listening to her eventually was what caused the disaster on the spaceship.

Revisiting older movies are tough to review. On one hand, its inevitable that some will not carry well over time especially sci-fi films because technology has changed so much over the years. Somehow, as much as technology changed and the tech here seems out of date along with some of the effects, Alien still carries itself really well. The horror moments with the face hugger and the Xenomorph are still creepy and believable. The ship feels real enough to be immersed in the events happening on the spaceship. Overall, Alien as a rewatch delivers itself really well and is still an immersive and thrilling watch and shows how before its times it was when it was released in 1979 with a bunch of unique elements that fit so well together.

Head over to Drew’s Movie Reviews to check out his review to kick off the Ultimate 70s Blogathon some time today!
For the rest of the blogathon, posts will be showing up alternate days between our blogs.
Remember to follow us to not miss out on any of the fantastic entries!

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.

Double Feature: Arrival (2016) & The Burrowers (2008)

After some pondering, I’ve decided that I’d like to go back to double features. The only exceptions, which are quite a few, will be theatre viewings, festival screenings, screeners, Disney and Hong Kong film reviews.

The first double feature to kick off the year are back to somewhat of a alphabetical order formula. Hopefully this time, I’ll get through the alphabet a second round although I can already see it being double featured somewhat scattered as there is at least one Disney title in between. I’ve been meaning to watch Arrival forever and it finally landed on Netflix and then as I try to get through a lot of the titles I’d like to watch on Shudder, my husband chose The Burrowers.

Let’s check it out!

Arrival (2016)

arrival

Director: Denis Villeneuve

Cast: Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, Forest Whitaker, Michael Stuhlbarg, Mark O’Brien, Tzi Ma

When twelve mysterious spacecrafts appear around the world, linguistics professor Louise Banks is tasked with interpreting the language of the apparent alien visitors. – IMDB

I always end up slapping myself everything I finish up a Denis Villeneuve as to why it took me so long to catch up with his film. Although, I’ve seen more of his films before he broke out in Hollywood which are also titles that I always suggest everyone to watch. Arrival is a breathtaking experience, both in its story telling execution and its character development as well as the cinematography and the setting (in the beautiful province of Quebec more rural areas).

Let’s start with the cast. The main players is Amy Adams who plays Louise Banks. She is fantastic as she is not only smart but also incredibly sensitive as a character that always gets questioned for her risky approach and dedication and fascination of deciphering this alien language and her defense of the situation. There is a level of obsession as she is constantly surrounded by the symbols that she is given as she dives into learning the language. Playing opposite here is Jeremy Renner who is more of the scientist of the operation who is fascinated not only by the situation but seemingly more so by Amy Adams character here and rightfully so. He defends and supports a lot of her decisions. Playing the Colonel, who pretty much runs the operation here is Forest Whitaker who is amazing as always. To be fair, Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner and Forest Whitaker are all actors that I absolutely enjoy watching so Arrival already had the winning cast for myself.

With Denis Villeneuve at the helm of this, there is always a darker atmosphere here. The urgency of the situation and the threatened environment of the world is definitely a selling point here as it feels quite authentic if the world were to have 12 alien spaceships land in 12 difference places how everyone would react. However, as the story unfolds and Louise Banks figures out the linguistics of it all, we also get brought into the world of what this all is about and to avoid any spoiler territory, it is a thought – provoking and meaningful sort of ending. Arrival is a definitely a must-watch!

The Burrowers (2008)

The Burrowers

Director (and writer) J.T. Petty

Cast: Clancy Brown, David Busse, William Mapother, Jocelin Donahue, Karl Geary, Doug Hutchison, Laura Leighton

In the Wild West a rescue party sets out to find a family of settlers that has vanished from their home under mysterious circumstances. – IMDB

We’re huge fans of monster movies. Tremors is a hit at our house and The Burrowers honestly reminded us a bit of that when we were just looking at the poster. However, The Burrowers is a rather Western style horror film as it is centers itself around a feud between the Americans and their prejudice thoughts on the Amerindians being involved all the deaths and disappearances happening. For that reason, it does sometimes feel like the movie forgets what its trying to do. It does do a good job at the hatred between certain characters towards the Native Americans  and while the story wants to use that as well to drop the little clues here and there to show what The Burrowers are actually and their goal, at point, it goes so slow that it seems to lose its momentum and heads directly into the boring spot more frequent than I’d like.

To be fair, I’m not one to pick at slower paced films. However, The Burrowers seems to be just a lackluster experience. Somehow, I ended up being more affected by the brutality and the depth of the hatred and the actions of a certain character towards Amerindians than actually the threat of The Burrowers themselves. The idea of The Burrowers was a good villain when the whole story pieced together however, the execution of the story itself just didn’t work for me.

The 100 (The 100 #1) by Kass Morgan

After the continued efforts to finish reading IT, I have decided to change up the pace yet again and switch between IT and other books sitting in my Kindle mostly because lugging around that 1400 page novel is really heavy and giving me back pains that my chiropractor isn’t too happy about. With that said, I dug out my Kindle and decided to work on some novels I picked up in 2015 thats been sitting in my Kindle unread. With a longing to get back to the TV series for The 100, I decided to check out the book that the show is based on. This is the first in the series.

Let’s check it out!

The 100
By: Kass Morgan

Ever since a devastating nuclear war, humanity has lived on spaceships far above Earth’s radioactive surface. Now, one hundred juvenile delinquents — considered expendable by society — are being sent on a dangerous mission: to recolonize the planet. It could be their second chance at life…or it could be a suicide mission…Confronted with a savage land and haunted by secrets from their pasts, the hundred must fight to survive. They were never meant to be heroes, but they may be mankind’s last hope. – Goodreads

In terms of dystopian settings, The 100 has decent one and with everything in the recent years, perhaps it even feels possible that if a nuclear bomb where to go off, the world’s backup would be to evacuate a certain few groups to space to survive while the radiation tapers off and Earth becomes viable again. Being a fan of the adaptation always makes it hard to read the source material because it makes you have a comparison. The 100 is a good book with the focus of the perspectives of four characters: Clarke, Wells, Bellamy and Glass. It takes us on both the Ark and the struggles there while also looking at the issues with not being on Earth but dropping a bunch of juvenile delinquents on Earth.

Using the four perspectives are good, it helps broaden the story and give the readers a point of reference and it allows us to learn about the characters, especially as it breaks down how and why they got arrested which highlights who these four are. I don’t quite mind the character development and the story or setting as much as I don’t quite like the descriptive nature of the writing. That honestly is a personal preference. Its easy to read but some parts hop onto slight cliches and it felt slightly corny plus, there was a heavy romantic angle focus which I have mixed feelings about. The 100 felt like in this first book to scrape the surface. It went through the motions of giving us the key plots and then the crisis on The Ark and ends with The 100 faced with their first threat, other people on the ground attacking them. With that said, I like my books self-contained even if it is a series. A good series can end their story and still intrigue their readers to come back in the sequel. The 100 has that intrigue just in its premise so it doesn’t need the cliffhanger ending.

I think this brings us to talk about the changes from the TV series to the book. For one, the entire arc of Glass and Luke are removed in the show however, the show gives a wider group of characters with their own skillset that are beneficial to the group. In this first book, the set up is quite lacking as they only end with realizing that people do live on Earth. Our characters and their leadership and intentions are diffferent also. Clarke is still strong but not quite the leader she is in the show which honestly is what I love about her in The 100. Bellamy also gets a more extreme character where he lacks his presence here. Although you do have to say that they do feel more like lost kids in this book because this is all new to them and between the dazzlement of being on land, it also emphasizes on the lack of knowledge.

The 100 was a good read. It has the right idea and to be honest, I think the show, only referring to the first season, actually takes its characters on a deeper journey than what the book does. While it is good to focus on a few characters and their arcs, the story could be so much better focusing on the dystopia and the new world they are in rather than the petty romance. Even if I am a Bellamy and Clarke fan from the series, it still was a little too much especially in some of the descriptive writing. The style just lacked a little something for me. It usually is a good move to step away from the soure material and in this case, it worked for the broaden scope of tv series.

If anything, reading The 100 has made me want to restart the series to refresh my memory ( not that I really need to) and catch up with season 3 and 4.