Monday, January 28, 2013

Midwinter Night - Yara Arts Theatre


            During winter break, my cousins and I took a trip into New York City, at the La MaMa Ellen Stewart Theatre, to watch the Yara Arts Group perform Midwinter Night, an Ukrainian concert.  Mostly preformed in Ukrainian, with some English translations throughout and a scene or two in Spanish, it really helped to show the diversities and similarities of different cultures that I am familiar with. 
            Being a Ukrainian group, going into the theatre I expected to not understand anything they were singing or saying and simply absorbing the traditions of the culture, such as I had done in St. Petersburg when we saw the Russian group give a concert.  It was nice that they translated some of their songs into English and sang part English, part Ukrainian throughout the songs. 
            The costumes also definitely helped to infer what was being sang in Ukrainian so that I would understand what was happening.  When I saw the headbands and dresses for the opening theme, I guessed that one girl represented the starts, one girl the moon, and the woman the sun.  With the English translation halfway through the song, my predictions were proven true.  The nativity scene was started with the Three Wise Men.  Once they came onto the stage, I assumed they were the three wise men, then when "Kind Herod" asked who they were (in Ukrainian), the leader of the wise men responded (in English) "We are Three Wise Men", again confirming my thoughts.   The costumes definitely helped me to understand what was going on.  The costume designer did her job very well.
            I've been dancing since I was about 4 years old, and being a dancer I could see a lot of the same moves that are still used today in dance styles taught everywhere, even though this concert gave the traditional songs and dances of the Ukraine.  It was interesting that a lot of the steps we use today in dancing were preformed so long ago.  Third and fifth positions of the feet that are required for ballet dancers today were used, along with the down-down-up combination found in modern and jazz dances.  Simple turns and spins, relevés, and contractions were also used.  A flamenco dance was performed (in Spanish), incorporating more cultural diversities, making it clear we were in New York. 
            The show ended by having the dancers select people from the audience to come onto the stage and dance with them.  One of the people picked me!  I dragged my cousin, Elena, with me and together we danced with the Yara Arts Group.  We did some traditional Ukrainian line dances that we were familiar with from weddings, and we spun until we were dizzy.  It was so much fun!
            When Natalie wanted to take me to see Midwinter Night, I was hesitant at first, but it honestly was so much fun and taught me a lot.  It was only available from December 27-30, 2012, but I'm sure there will be many more concerts and plays done by the Yara Arts Theatre, so if you're ever in New York City and want to learn a bit, I would definitely suggest going to the La MaMa Theatre to see if anything is going on.  Who knows, you might even get called on stage! 

Friday, January 25, 2013

A City Infected Book Review

A City Infected by N.F. David


Kyle Runner is a cop for the sole reason of supporting his daughter even though they have a strained relationship because of his separation from his adulterous wife. Kyle lives in New York City years after it is infected with a virus that produces a variety of zombies. Instead of running and hiding like in typical zombie movies and books, the humans have adjusted. They are armed and most times more dangerous than the infected. A corporate giant, Crest Hominal, has emerged and the government is a joke.

Kyle is infected in the first chapter. He hopes to be gunned down by the chief of police thereby securing the pension that would take care of his daughter after his death. But Kyle doesn't get gunned down and he doesn't become a zombie. (There is a great surprise here.) He instead enters the twisted world of Crest Hominal.

I really liked the world building. This is a very creative New York City. I liked that the people are not holed up in the country surrounded by a fence waiting for food supplies to run out. People are living everyday lives--even if it's a bit twisted. Of course New York City is cut off from the more desirable infection-free places beyond the "fire." (There is great description and foreshadowing about it that I liked a lot.)

In the infected area you do what it takes to survive even if it means becoming a police officer. Corruption is everywhere, goes from top to bottom and everyone has an opportunity to rise. Kyle takes his opportunity to rise in Crest Hominal for his daughter while still trying to be the "good guy." Kyle is funny and has a twisted sense of humor. ("Twisted" --There's that word again. Seriously I couldn't think of another more fitting word.) I was laughing out loud at the stuff he was doing and saying. My favorite was when he went to see Senior and did his own pat down. You have to read it to know what I'm talking about. I also enjoyed the "monsters" and "superpowers."

As far as the storyline, I had to knock off 2 stars: One because I had an overall feeling that I was missing a lot. I attribute this to Mr. Northington, a genuinely unique character that spoke like a walking dictionary. I could've liked him but he frustrated me. I could only guess what the heck he was saying for a large portion of the book. I would have never finished reading if I stopped to look up every word he said. Even then, I honestly don't think I would've understood. He was an essential character and that's what frustrated me the most. I got the jist of what happened, but I felt out of the loop on what was going on underneath it all. I really would've liked to know.

I took off the other star because I didn't really know what the plot was. Kyle's driving force was his daughter, but I had no clue what he was supposed to be doing to secure her future. Although all the places and people he met that involved his "job" were entertaining, I still didn't get all of it. I chalk some of that up to Mr. Northington's impressive vocabulary. Then Kyle risks everything and faces "monsters" for what? Ask Mr. Northington because he has all the answers. Maybe I should've put his dialog in Google translator. (smile) But seriously I thought Kyle should've come out better in the end hero-wise. I think he gets jipped.

To sum up: This is not the genre I usually read. But I liked the concept, creative characters and "zombies." Kyle is an original and funny character. But I was just incredibly lost on the plot details. Also, beware of the strong erotic elements if that's not your thing. However, it made for an interesting plot device.

Rating 3/5

Friday, January 18, 2013

The Summer of Brian Book Review

The Summer of Brian by Kenechi Udogu is a good YA read. After the first chapter my first impression was "cute." Of course, I'm old and anything to do with teenagers and their first loves and crushes will be cute to me. I could easily see a couple of teenagers finding Charlene's predicament with Brian important enough to consume their summer.


It is a quick, light read with normal characters in situations that seemed only slightly over done especially with Nathan's past and how it comes out. Of course, the best friend Orla is more entertaining than Charlene. But that's what secondary characters are for, relief from the more "serious" matter facing the heroine.  Brian's character is kind of flat, which is surprising because he's in the title. Nathan is "cute." My favorite part is the scene where Nathan takes Charlene, Orla and Brian to the fair to see his friend play guitar. Too cute!

OK, enough of the cutes. You'll enjoy it.

Rating 4/5

I was provided with a copy for an honest review.


Friday, January 11, 2013

Aversion: Book One of The Mentalist Series, Book Review



Aversion, Book One in The Mentalist Series by Kenechi Udogu is a novella following the first Aversion performed by Gemma Green and how it goes oh so wrong. Fifteen-year-old Gemma is the only female Averter in a long history of Averters, an anomaly. Nonetheless, she has been taught from a very young age the responsibilities, honor and rules of Aversion. Averters use their minds to deter others (without the person realizing it) from decisions that will keep them from their life path.

When Gemma gets her first "jolt" from Russ Tanner, she is confident and a little nervous. But this is what she is born to do. Everything seems to have gone well with Russ--disaster averted. That is until Russ approaches her at school the next day. She has never talked to him before and has kept a low profile at school, but now she can't shake Russ. He doesn't remember the Aversion, but for some reason he feels drawn to her. What else can go wrong?

Gemma is a down-to-earth character that tries her best to live up to her legacy. But being a teenaged girl just gets in the way of duty sometimes. The reader goes with Gemma on her journey to becoming a full-fledged Averter (and not just a trainee) and her journey into the world of the average teen. She is believable, if a bit too analytical. The story is Gemma's first person account, so she's already been through the adventure that she's relating to the reader. The only thing that bothered me was that because it's already happened, she inadvertently reveals minor plot points.

Description is minimal and other character development is scarce. We get to know a little about Russ and Gemma's father, but we're not yet sure what is true about either one of them. After all, we're dealing with Aversion. But there is still more to uncover.

I liked this first installment in The Mentalist Series and recommend it for a quick read. I look forward to the next installment.

Rating 4/5

I was provided with a copy for an honest review.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

IDs

I have been watching all this gun control talk on the TV, it's dumb. All we need is pictured IDs that will identify a person. If a person has been convicted of a violent crime, they can't possess a firearm. If a person has a mental condition, they can't possess a firearm, unless they have a permit. People that have mentally handy cap persons in their house should be required to have a gun safe or secure zone for their firearms. (keyed closet, keyed trigger lock, etc.) Lower the age of juveniles to the age of twelve, and put their record as public.
We have to have a pictured ID on our driving license, they give you a SS number when you are born. Everyone in our state carries a pictured ID or we go to jail until you prove who you are. And driving without a license gets you jail time. Here if you got a red line on your ID, you can't buy booze, because you've been in too much trouble because of it. This would solve a lot of problems, the ID would tell the seller that you can't perches a firearm or ammo. It would also tell if you can vote at any elections. 

Sunday, January 6, 2013

The Super Spies Summaries (from their back covers)



This book opens in a small town in Michigan where fifteen-year-old Sarah Cole is stuck spending the summer at her Aunt and Uncle’s with her sister, Lacey. She’s not happy with the situation until she befriends a girl named Jackie. The three girls stumble upon the ruthless murder of a reclusive neighborhood woman. One of the officers investigating the crime believes the girls are responsible for her death. Fearing that this officer will frame them for the murder, the girls organize their own detective squad. They become the Super Spies and start their own fact-finding mission.  The Super Spies can’t understand why anyone would want to murder the “Cat Lady” until they start digging into her past and discover a horrible crime that happened thirty years ago. They uncover a connection between the two crimes and attempt to bring this information to the police, only to be reprimanded for meddling in the inquest. Not only are the girls upset by the admonition, but they also struggle with the fact that their exuberant investigating could provide a legal loophole allowing the killer to go free. To make matters worse, the police don’t even believe them. Frustrated by this turn of events, the Super Spies realize it’s up to them to snare the Cat Lady killer, or die trying...

This book opens in a small town in Michigan where Sarah and her sister Lacey are now living with their Aunt and Uncle. Still reeling from the fact her parents have disappeared, Sarah starts the school year with her new friend Jackie Jenkins. When Sarah learns the school has been bombed, she’s filled with dread. Uncle Walt is a teacher, and he was in the school when the bomb exploded. Taking matters into her own hands, Sarah decides to search for him. The rest of the Super Spies are right behind her. When a fireman chases them away from the school, Sarah becomes suspicious. She decides to investigate. The FBI arrives on the scene. Sarah realizes this bombing could have even bigger implications. Searching for the bombers, Sarah is introduced to the world of terrorism. She fears that the bombing and her parents’ disappearance are connected and terrorists are involved. To make matters worse, the bombers are determined to finish the job. Can the Super Spies find the bombers before it’s too late?


The entire month of January, the first book in this series is on sale for $0.99 on Amazon!

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Ten Traits to Be A Spy - Guest Post by Lisa Orchard

Guest post brought to you by Lisa Orchard and Astraea Press!


Hello Everyone! I hope all is well with you! I’m Lisa Orchard and I’m a guest here at Princess Reviews today. I’m the Young Adult Author of the Super Spies series and I’ve got my main character, Sarah Cole, here to explain the ten things you need to know in order to be a spy. Take it away Sarah!

Hello! My name is Sarah Cole and I’ve written down the ten traits a spy/detective needs in order to be successful. Let me know if you agree, I’d love to hear from you.

1)    The first thing you need to know is detectives/spies need to keep a low profile. They must blend in…they can’t stand out or draw attention to themselves. That means we don’t wear flashy clothes or gaudy jewelry. I have to explain this to my best friend Jackie all the time (eye roll) and she still doesn’t get it. She firmly believes a detective can be fashionable. J As if!

2)    The next thing you need to know is detectives must be able to use the powers of deduction in their work. They must look at the clues and draw conclusions about the villain in order to find out who he is. J I’ve got awesome powers of deduction…Jackie not so much! J

3)    The third item on our list is a spy must possess the desire to get justice at all costs.  Most of the time the victim’s in a situation where they can’t fight for themselves so I must take up the battle for them. The whole Super Spies gang feels this way… J

4)    Another thing a detective must be is brave. We have to put ourselves in dangerous situations in order to find the truth. We feel fear, but our sense of justice prevails and we do what we need to do in spite of  it. Lacey, my sister, usually has to be convinced…she’s kind of a wimp! J

5)    A detective/spy must also have an inquisitive nature. They must want to know why something happened. This is important  because a detective needs to understand the motives of the villain in order to catch him.  I have the most inquisitive nature…it drives Jackie and my sister crazy sometimes but hey what can I say? It’s just the way I am! J

6)    A detective must also be resourceful. For example, when we were going after the Cat Lady Killer we had to use Jackie’s perfume as a weapon in order to get away. Of course, she never lets me hear the end of it! How her fashion sense saved us. J  This is the reason she’s convinced detectives can be fashionable.

7)    The next item on our list is sneakiness. J That’s right; a detective needs to be sneaky in order to spy without getting caught. This is very important otherwise how would a sleuth be able to overhear private conversations? Sneakiness is one of the most important traits of a spy. J And I must confess I’m pretty sneaky…Jackie and Lacey are learning. J

8)    A detective must also be able to think on their feet. For example, when we were almost caught by the bombers in “The Super Spies and the High School Bomber” Jackie and I were able to think quickly and find a hiding place. J We remained undetected and were able to escape.

9)    Detectives must also be able to work as a team. When we had to set a trap for the Cat Lady Killer it took all of us working together to set it. Unfortunately, it backfired. That’s where being able to think on my feet came in handy. J

10)                       The last and most important trait a detective must possess is empathy for the victim.  If we can’t empathize with our victims we wouldn’t have the motivation to solve the crime. Luckily, all of the Super Spies have this trait. J Jackie thinks being able to empathize is totally Cool Beans! I told her she needs to step out of the nineties…but she won’t listen to me! (deep sigh with an eye roll)

So there you have it, the top ten traits all detectives must possess in order to catch the criminals. How do you think I did? What traits do you think spies should have?  Let me know your thoughts! I’d love to hear from you!

And check out my books! It’s a great series to get your teen interested in reading again! J

Buy links:

“The Super Spies and the Cat Lady Killer”


Barnes and Noble:

“The Super Spies and the High School Bomber”



Barnes and Noble:


You can find Lisa Orchard at these social media sites.



Friday, January 4, 2013

Wish Again: Dreams Truth, Book Review and Goodreads Giveaway



Enter Goodreads Giveaway Here through January 15, 2013

*** SPOILER ALERT ***

Wish Again: Dreams Truth, Book Two of the WISH Trilogy by Deby Adair is the sequel to Wish. There are many returning characters and several new ones. In this sequel Rielle and Pud are searching for Rielle's dream with the help of a butterfly called Far. But a mysteriously strong wind whisks Far away. Feeling responsible, Rielle makes the decision to return to Wish to tell Hope that she lost his butterfly. Along the way Rielle meets Old, a unique creature person, who knows of Wish and Hope and immediately befriends and accompanies her on her journey back to Wish.

Meanwhile, Willful James (Will) awakens as a human and no longer a bush after thousands of years in Wish. After such a long time he is ready to return to the real world, but the sorcerer that caused trouble in the first Wish book will not let him go so easily.

I enjoyed this sequel. Rielle and Pud are still adorable, but they are not the main focus of this story. The reader instead gets to know Will and his story; his sorrows and his journey back from despair. We also get to know Old, whom I loved. He is a great character that fits quite well with Rielle, Pud and Wish. These two characters are well developed and engaging. I found myself rooting for them at every turn.

Wish Again also has a lot more action in it than Wish. However, there is still a lot of talking just like in the first book. There is a lot to explain and it's not always exciting. The conversations do slow the book down and prevented me from getting into it right away. But the talk is broken up wisely with action and a little bit of suspense.  It really had me turning pages once Rielle, Pud and Old get to Wish.

The description is beautiful as always and easily visualized. It is always soothing to read even in the action parts that flow well without being confusing.

I recommend this book and cannot wait to read The Third Wish, which will undoubtedly be filled with a lot of heart, beauty and great action appropriate for all audiences.

Rating 4/5

I was provided with a copy for an honest review.