Monument 14, by Emmy Laybourne

I’m going to be honest – this book wasn’t great. I was expecting a lot more than I got. It seems like your typical plot, a bunch of young people bundled up inside a mega store while  all hell breaks loose outside. And that’s the problem, it was a typical plot.

So the kids are bundled up safe and sound. Well, almost. There’s obviously quite a bit of tension, and when outside factors start to leak in (literally) things get a little bit hairy in there.

I picked up this book expecting a lot, it sounded just like my sort of read. I’m not even sure what made me dislike it. It may be that the characters acted so insanely stupid. I mean it’s the definition of an emergency, and they’re being idiots about it. Plus the fact that I could tell what was going to happen from the off.

So to summarise, I didn’t love it, didn’t hate it. Monument 14 was a solid 3/5. Ish…

Iron Man 3 – Woah

I may have mentioned before (a lot) about how much I love a good superhero film. Iron Man 3 is not a good superhero film. It’s a magnificent one. I went to the midnight showing last Thursday, but I haven’t had WiFi to upload this review. But better late than never, right?

Iron Man 3 shows a very different side of Tony Stark. Ever since the events in New York at the end of The Avengers, he has been suffering from anxiety attacks, and is having trouble sleeping. He spends most of his time making new suits, and this is quickly becoming an obsession. The suits are making his relationship with Pepper (still running Stark Industries) a little stressed,and when the Mandarin strikes, everything worsens. The Mandarin seems to be a Chinese warlord, or something of the sort, utterly bent on exposing America as a hypocritical, corporate nation. There are several Mandarin attacks on America, all of which use a new type of bomb – or at least everyone thinks it’s a bomb. But no traces of a device are ever found at the site of the explosion. So what’s going on?

This is a different Tony than we’ve seen before. He’s a lot more mentally vulnerable, and this really shows. It kind of adds more to him as a character, as in certain scenes, we see him without all the bravado. Of course an Iron Man film wouldn’t be complete without the Tony Stark one-liners, and this one certainly doesn’t disappoint.

We get a lot more Pepper. She’s a much more central character this time, and that’s definitely a good thing. She’s stronger too, and we get to see her in a few action scenes, something we haven’t really got a glimpse of before. Though to be fair, she’s never really been a damsel in distress. She plays a very central role in the plot as well, and spoiler alert – she gets to use the suit. If that doesn’t convince you to go see this film, what will?


As for the villain, that would be the Mandarin, played by Ben Kingsley.  Or would it? I won’t give anything away, but don’t take anything for granted… But whatever happens, Kingsley plays The Mandarin wonderfully, I really can’t fault his performance. Don Cheadle returns as Colonel Rhodes, this time the “Iron Patriot”, and is working with the American government.  Jon Favreau plays Happy Hogan, the Downton Abbey loving, head of security at Stark Industries. He gets into a bit of trouble, what with the Mandarin attacks and such.

I really can’t fault this film – The characters are great, the plot is brilliant, every twist and turn is simply wonderful, and to put it bluntly it’s just an excellent film. The characters we’re familiar with kind of mature a bit, and some equally interesting new characters are introduced. The one-liners are as good as ever, but there’s a few more serious moments to go with them this time. This is the first film in Marvel’s phase two, and to be honest, it was a pretty perfect start. If the rest of the films are the same standard as this, I am seriously excited for them. Ah who am I kidding, I’m excited for them anyway!

I’ve nothing to complain about, and for that reason I’m giving Iron Man 3 4.5 stars out of five.

A Doctor Who Review – Hide

This is the first television episode review I’ve done. Probably because I don’t watch a lot of television. Also because I feel like just reviewing one episode is a bit odd. But I have a lot of thoughts on this week’s Doctor Who, and I feel like sharing. So here goes.

I haven’t really liked season 7.2. I’ve found the three episodes so far kind of boring, and I don’t hesitate in calling them mediocre. The Bells of Saint John, I was expecting good things from, it being the first episode back after a break. It was a solid ok at best. I toned my hopes down a little for The Rings Of Akhaten, and was still disappointed.  I had very high hopes for The Cold War – I really enjoy reading about that period of history – and was let down immensely. But Hide absolutely blew my expectations out of the water.

One thing I am loving about this season though, is the movie-style episode images

It starts off pretty typical. Some ghostly things going on, some vaguely bemused locals. A bit less bemused than usual though. If anything, quite the professionals. Not the typical locals either. In fact, disregard everything I just said. The Doctor and Clara stumble upon two people investigating the appearance of a ghost in an old haunted house. They mooch around for a bit,  The Doctor sonics some things, rattles off the rather impressive history of ghost hunter number one, and all before the plot is actually revealed.

I’m not sure what made this episode so good. It just felt more like Doctor Who than the past few have. The side characters were excellent, Professor Alec Palmer, and Emma Grayling, a war hero and a psychic, trying to catch a ghost. Or figure out a ghost at least. They had their own story, and were somewhat of a parallel to The Doctor and Clara, though only in certain areas.

And now for Clara.
I don’t like her. It’s an unpopular opinion, I know. I do have an actual reason for not liking her, it’s not just that she isn’t the Ponds. She comes off as almost insultingly nonchalant about being a companion, and really disrespectful to the TARDIS. That being said, I am looking forward to the unravelling of her mystery. Who she actually is and all that.

Something I found very interesting to note in this episode was how, almost passive The Doctor is becoming. In this episode we saw how he went to the same spot geographically, but in different points in time, so he and Clara effectively saw the lifespan of Earth from that one spot. And that affected Clara. She saw her planet from start to finish, and it dawned on her that when she was standing in the far future, she was probably buried somewhere at the same time, dead. It hit her quite hard, but it’s the Doctor’s reaction that shocked me. He just sort of waved it off, rather than the heart warming speech/metaphor I was expecting. This sort of thing has happened before – the second episode of the new series springs to mind, when the Ninth Doctor takes Rose to the destruction of the Earth. I may not be spot on, having not seen that particular episode in quite a while, but I’m pretty sure The Doctor was a lot more understanding then. I’m not sure why this intrigued me so much, perhaps because it shows how much the Doctor has changed since then, and the effect his companions have had on him.

My favourite thing about this episode though, was a quote.

Every lonely monster needs a companion

I don’t think I need to explain why I love it, it’s not exactly a hidden meaning.

Overall I have no hesitation in giving Hide 4.5/5 stars. It was the best episode of Doctor Who I’ve seen in a long while, and I honestly think that it deserves to be mentioned in the same breath as Blink, and other such iconic episodes.

Battle Lines by Will Hill – 700 pages of excellent.

Warning: This review contains spoilers for the first two books in the Department 19 series by Will Hill- Department 19 and The Rising.

I really do love the cover…

Battle Lines is the third book in the Department 19 series by Will Hill, which follows Jamie Carpenter and his fellow operatives in Department 19 (Blacklight) – The department of the British government that hunts vampires. Yeah it doesn’t sound the best. But take my word for it, it’s excellent.

With 52 days until Zero Hour, the time when the newly-awakened Dracula will be back to his full strength, the Department isn’t exactly the strongest it’s ever been. It’s trying to build itself back up after the devastating attack that took place at the hands of Valeri Rusmanov at the end of the previous book, and the kidnapping of the Director, Henry Seward. That means taking on new recruits, and trying to train them as quickly as possible so that they can be ready for action when needed. And that moment comes a lot sooner than anybody was expecting, as the unthinkable happens. Several of the highest security prisons around the world are broken into, the staff massacred, and all the inmates turned. But they aren’t the usual newly-turned vampires. Oh no. For some reason they have strength and speed far surpassing that of a normal vampire.
Meanwhile, Dracula is still building up his strength, and the Department don’t really have any way to stop him…

So all in all, it seems like there’s a lot of doom and gloom. And there is, there’s no denying that Battle Lines is quite a bit darker than either of the previous two books. But the darkness actually makes it an easier read, at least to me. It conveys the sense that if Dracula is allowed to regain his full strength, it will be absolutely horrendous. So in this book, Dracula goes from being a threat in the distance – real, but still quite far away – to a genuine, and rather immediate threat. Which is a very good thing from a reader’s point of view.

We get a very different perspective on the morality of what Blacklight does. Larissa especially seems to be of the mind that they shouldn’t be killing vampires just because they’re vampires. They haven’t done anything wrong, they didn’t choose to be a vampire, so why should they be killed on sight? And while it’s not addressed as much in this book as I presume it will be in the next, it’s certainly a very interesting point to mull over.

Plot wise, there’s really not a slow point throughout the book. It just keeps going for seven hundred pages, and to be honest it’s brilliant. A problem I have with a lot of the books I read is that they’re over too soon, and I definitely don’t have that complaint about Battle Lines.

All in all I’d probably give Battle Lines 4/5 stars, because while it wasn’t exceptional, it was very very good, and I couldn’t put it down.

Light by Michael Grant, and the end of a reading era.

So I just finished reading Light.

When I say I just finished it, I mean I finished it an hour ago, and have spent the time since then staring at the wall trying to absorb the fact that it’s all over, and contemplating everything that happened.

Cause of death…

First of all, some serious congratulations are in order for Mr Grant.

I’m sure he knew from the start, but to think up such a complicated plot, and then to end it so spectacularly, that basically everything was cleared up, that takes skill.  Plot wise, the book was pretty much perfect. I mean there really wasn’t a slow moment, and everything was made clear without overwhelming the reader.

The characters were quite something. The character deaths were something else. I knew there were going to be deaths, heck I even knew there were going to be main character deaths, but that didn’t mean I was prepared. All I’m saying is that if you’re yet to read Light, and you’re as invested as I am, have the Kleenex on stand-by. You’ll most likely need them.

But I’m not complaining. I understand that Light was never going to be a Breaking Dawn, where every single main character walked away at the end- Grant is far too good a writer for that. I understand that the deaths were necessary. I don’t have to like them, but the story is probably better because of it. So I can mourn the characters in my head, I can reread the previous instalments, and I’ll live.

As for the ending, I don’t think I can stress how perfect I found it. As I said before, pretty much everything was cleared up, and in a way that made sense too. Grant avoided pulling a Hunger Games on it, and he ended an amazing series with an epilogue that was actually good. Or aftermath, or whatever you want to call it. It could have been disastrous,  it could have been absolutely brilliant up to the end, and then fallen with a sub-par epilogue. But it didn’t. Personally, I think it ended in the best way it could.

As for the rest of my thoughts on the story, I really don’t think I can make them at all coherent, so I think I’m going to end this here.

Light was a spectacular ending to an exceptional series. It ticked all the boxes, and I genuinely don’t have a bad word to say about it.  There’s no doubt in my mind that Light deserves five stars, as does the Gone Series in general.

And I’d like to take another moment to thank Michael Grant, for writing such an incredible story.

Finishing the Gone series comes with the same feeling that finishing the Artemis Fowl books did. Or The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel. Even Harry Potter. The Gone books have been somewhat a constant in my life over the past few years, and now that the series is finished, I feel like there’s a small void within me that was previously filled with anticipation for the next part of the story. I have fond memories of the first time I read Gone – sitting in one place for most of Christmas day until I finished it, and going out the next day to get Hunger and Lies. I remember reading Plague on a long, cramped plane journey. I bought Fear the third time I went to see the Hunger Games, and devoured it the second I got home. Basically what I’m saying is, it may sound a little sad, but these books have been a part of my life over the past few years, and I’m really sad that they have to end.

But everything has to end sometime, right?

And Gone ended spectacularly.