Books, Movies/TV series

From Supergirl to Werewolf

158866-supergirl-laura-vandervoortBy Luke

If you’ve seen the television series Smallville, then you already know it’s about a young Clark Kent’s journey to becoming the Man of Steel—Superman.

There are other characters who appear in it from the original comics—such as Lois Lane, Lex Luthor, Lana Lang, Jimmy Olsen, and Supergirl. Along with them, characters such as Chloe Sullivan and Lionel Luthor were created specifically for the show.

But this post isn’t about Smallville, though I wouldn’t mind writing about it. It’s actually about the actress who played Kara, a.k.a. Supergirl—Laura Vandervoort. She’s tall, gorgeous, strong, and blonde. Her career highlights were the television series Smallville (2001-2011) (of course) and V (2009-2011) (the remake of the mini-series of the same name), as well as the movies Into the Blue 2: The Reef (2009) and Damage (2009).

Do you want to know what’s next in her career? Well, she was cast in the television adaptation of Kelley Armstrong’s Bitten, the first book in the Women of the Otherworld. Laura Vandervoort will play the main character, Elena who is a werewolf.


Here’s the plotline of Bitten:

Elena Michaels seems like the typically strong and sexy modern woman, She lives with her architect boyfriend, writes for a popular newspaper, and works out at the gym. She’s also a werewolf.

Elena has done all she can to assimilate to the human world, but the man whose bite changed her existence forever, and his legacy, continue to haunt her. Thrown into a desperate war for survival that tests her allegiance to a secret clan of werewolves, Elena must recon with who, and what, she is in this passionate, page-turning novel that begins the Women of the Otherworld series. 

It sounds interesting, doesn’t it? Have you already read it? I haven’t. But now I’m more eager to. I’ll order it from the library, and after I read it, I’ll write a review!


Melissa’s Mr Penumbra‘s 24-Hour Bookstore Review

I can’t remember how I heard of a new book called Mr Penumbra‘s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan, described as a modern day literary mystery. But I heard about it before it was available, reserved it at the Mr Penumbras 24hr bookstorelibrary and joined a queue of other computer savvy pre-reservers, which was only fitting given the marriage of physical books and technology in the book.

Meanwhile, I Google-stalked Mr. Sloan and found his delightfully minimalistic website with a great short story of the fable persuasion.

Finally, the long anticipated book arrived at the library and I was a goner from the first chapter.

The writing is just like his website, featuring judicious use of evocative language. The protagonist, Clay, a newly redundant young man, not long out of university ends up working at an old bookstore in a strange part of San Francisco. The description of the bookstore was delicious; being a bookstore lover who recently watched Funny Face (Audrey Hepburn), the sliding Audrey Hepburn on ladderladder reaching up floors tickled me.

The writing is infused with a firm sense of sight, smell & touch; Sloan creates scenes with the sparsest, most beautiful descriptions.

Combining a reverence for books and the stories they transmit, Google, Googlers and much talk of computer code was an ideal way to capture my attention. Mr. Penumbra and his customers are delightfully eccentric and exactly how I would imagine members of a literary cult to be.

Ultimately, the literary mystery was beautifully plotted, though entirely guessable. But imagine if Google actually was working on life-prolonging technologies and held the key for 500-year-old literary mysteries?

Fancy, Movies/TV series

The Great Gatsby Film Review

parties from Gatsby

Decadent parties, hypnotizing characters, sumptuous sets and designer dresses – Prada designed forty of the costumes. The Great Gatsby has it all. It’s a beautifully genuine adaptation of a beloved book. In typical Bazz Lurhmann style, it was theatrical – in the most grandiose, but natural way. He simultaneously captured the magic of the 20s while disemboweling a superficial, careless culture.

Matching great, current tunes with the perfectly period movie, the new Florence and the Machine song, “Over the Love”, was hauntingly dispersed through key plot points.

gatsby and daisy

Carey Mulligan plays a divinely tragic Romantic heroine. Leonardo DiCaprio cuts a fine Gatsby and embodies a perfectly heartbreaking, enigmatic young man who amasses amazing wealth in the pursuit of a hope that has long left his reach.

True to the book, we are driven through the heartbreaking story at pace with Nick Carraway’s narration, a character who is “both within and without”, much like Dan Humphrey in the Gossip Girl series. We are drawn into a world of elaborate parties and idle, wasteful people, where politicians and police commissioners cavort with gangsters and strippers – but even the seedy underworld seems shiny.

I watched this movie twice at the theatre (it was that good), and it only improved upon second viewing. Check out the official blog for more stunning pictures, the trailers and the making of the Florence and the Machine video clip. I can’t wait for it to be released on DVD so that I can watch it with director’s commentary!

Adventures, Fancy

Weekend Adventuring

So, I’m a bookworm, my ideal weekend involves a lot of coffee and books. But I ventured beyond the City’s grey borders this weekend and did a little adventuring with one of my most favourite people. Below is a pictorial round up from Matakana (1.5 hours north of Auckland, New Zealand) and the surrounding area:

Adventuring weekend in 16 June

From top left: We began the day at the Matakana market – I found a big photo book of Audrey Hepburn’s life in a very cute, proper bookstore in Matakana. A view behind the market. I found a comfy chair. Some food I did not partake in (I don’t tend to be adventurous with my food, but I did impress my lovely fellow adventurer with tasting both a sausage and a pickle at the wine tasting). We then drove out to a local winery for a wine tasting – A deliciously coloured countryside. The platter that came after the wine tasting. A very fancy chair that I want! A view of the winery. And the sign for the (apparently) world famous Matakana market. (Is it world famous? Has anybody outside of New Zealand heard of it?)

Books, Fancy

Gatsby Excitement

In the excitement of The Great Gatsby being bought to life by Bazz Lurhmann (please don’t let the rumours of retirement be true), people are re-embracing the Jazz age. Magazine covers are graced with the ethereal Carey Mulligan (who plays Daisy Buchannan,) Isla Fisher, Leonardo DiCaprio or Tobey Maguire.The Great Gatsby

Harpers Bazaar has an excellent interview with leading lady, Carey Mulligan, in their latest issue.

The bob is set to make a come back a la “the Rachel” in the 90s, or rather Louise Brooks. Brooks is the subject of the book set in the same period, The Chaperone by Laura Moriarty.

Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald is on my to-read list and I am waiting as I funnel closer to the top of the reserve list at the local library.

I have always wanted to belong to a book club, but I have either never had the time or known anyone who runs one. So I stubbornly decided this was my year to do it, and, upon Carey and Leonard gatsbyfinding other like-minded people wishing for a book club in our area, I have put one together. The most excellent array of people joined us for our first meeting recently, and I am looking forward to the different critiques of our first book, The Great Gatsby.

Look out for my review of the film and the book soon.

Books, Movies/TV series, Top Ten

Melissa’s Top Ten Heroines and Films to Check Out

One of the first lists I came up with when we decided to compile a series of top ten posts (after books and authors, of course) was top ten heroines, so here they are:

  1. Elizabeth Bennet220px-Prideandprejudiceposter

    Lively, clever, independent and able to capture (and inform) the arrogant Mr. Darcy, who is above her station in life (which was important in the 18th Century) – Elizabeth is number one. I can re-read Pride and Prejudice repeatedly and still be amused and amazed at her. I adore both portrayals of her in the 1995 BBC mini-series) adaptation and the 2005 Keira Knightly version.

  2. Jane Eyre coverJane Eyre

    Her independence, morality and strength of character captured me from first reading. The 2011 adaptation with Mia Wasikowska is my favourite. I love the line, “I am come back to you.”

  3. Ann Elliot

    Ann Elliot (of Persuasion, Jane Austen) is an unlikely pick as I much prefer independent women but she is such a good, gentle character, so much put-upon and she learns her lesson eventually.

  4. Elinor Dashwood

    Elinor Dashwood (of Sense & Sensibility, Jane Austen) is the pragmatic older sister to the romantic Marianne. I adore her sense of responsibility, pragmatism and dependability in the face of a family that needs her strength. I love that she gets her happily ever after, after all her sacrifice.

  5. Sydney Sagethe indigo spell

    In my review of The Indigo Spell I declare Sydney to be, “the perfect protagonist to read in the first person. She is intelligent, scientific, analytical, independent, strong, and some social interactions perplex her.” She also holds her own against some formidable opponents. The actress cast to play her (in the Vampire Academy films) will have to be pretty awesome in order to avoid letting me down.

  6. the time travellers wifeClare Abshire

    Another strong, romantic figure in a beautiful book and film, Clare Abshire is The Time Traveller’s Wife. Rachel McAdams is the perfect Clare.

  7. Margaret Hale

    Margaret (of North & South) is a lively, intelligent young woman who rises above terrible, successive events with elegance while capturing the heart of the tough Mr Thornton. Daniela Denby-Ashe is the perfect Margaret in the 2004 mini-series adaptation.

  8. Rose Hathawayzoey deuch

    Rose is the protagonist of the Vampire Academy series. She is kick-ass and unfailingly loyal. I can’t wait for the first of the movies out next year. I hope Zoey Deutch (set to play her) can do her justice.

  9. tomorrow when the war beganEllie Linton

    I love Tomorrow When the War Began, I loved it when the books came out in the 90s, I adored the movie when it came out in 2010. Caitlin Stasey wasn’t exactly how I imagined Ellie, but she was so awesome it didn’t matter. There will potentially be a follow up film out next year .

  10. Katniss Everdeen

    I came at this series the wrong way around, I saw the first movie and then began reading the books (because I had to know what happened next). You know the movie I’m talking about, because you haven’t been living under a rock have you? The Hunger Games. Either way Katniss is awesome – she is as compassionate as Margaret Hale, as integral to her family as Elinor the hunger gamesDashwood and as feisty as Rose Hathaway.

Is there anyone else that should be included in the list?


Luke’s Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry Review

Pushing the LimitsPushing the Limits 

By Katie McGarry

Published by Harlequin in 2012

Echo Emerson can’t remember what happened the night she received the scars on her arms. Actually, she didn’t just repress the memory of that night, she repressed the entire day from her memory. Then she meets Noah, who has problems of his own, and they work together to solve their problems.

“‘If you’re scared, tell me. If you need to cry and scream, then do it. And you sure as hell don’t walk away from us because you think it would be better for me. Here’s the reality, Echo: I want to be by your side. If you want to go to the mall stark naked so you can show the world your scars, then let me hold your hand. If you want to see your mom, then tell me that too. I may not always understand, but damn, baby, I’ll try.’”

—Noah to Echo, Pushing the Limits

Pushing the Limits was quite an intense book. Both Echo and Noah have dealt with so many struggles in their short lives. After the night she can’t remember, Echo wakes up in the hospital with scars all over her arms, her only reminder that something horrible happened. Not only that, but she also lost her brother, Aires, who died after joining the Marines. Noah has faced loss, as well. His parents passed away and only he and his two younger brothers survived. He was separated from his brothers, who were taken under foster care, and Noah himself went through foster home after foster home, wanting to belong somewhere, wanting his family back. Throughout the entire novel, he is trying to take custody over his brother from their foster parents, who he needs to prove unfit. However, he must prove he is eligible, must prove to the system that he’s not a messed up, drug addict, attention-seeking teenage boy. Echo and Noah find each other and work together to solve their problems, and in the process, they fall in love.

Dare You To

I read the first chapter online and had to get it from the library. As soon as I got it, I couldn’t resist the temptation: I just had to read it. And I loved it. I liked both Echo and Noah. They are how you’d expect real people to be; they’re not perfect but they’re awesome in their own ways.

Overall, Pushing the Limits was amazing! It was brilliantly written. Katie McGarry has created such a unique story and kept me wanting more through to the end. I can’t wait to read the sequel, Dare You To.


Melissa’s Reading Round up May

Despite having read many magazines this month and being rather too busy for my liking, I have managed to read nine books. Below is the round up for May:

Jessica Alba The Honest Life: Living Naturally and True to YouThe Honest Life

Honest is eco, environmentally and health friendly. It is also sustainable. Her key chapters are on food, cleaning, beauty, style, home, baby and inspiration. A beautifully illustrated, genuine journey through Jessica Alba’s philosophy in life.

Be a Free Range Human: Escape the 9-5, Create a Life You Love and Still Pay the BillsFree Range Human, Marianne Cantwell

This book is about finding, developing and executing your idea to redefine your work/life balance. Cantwell writes clearly, succinctly and draws on real life examples (beyond her own) to illustrate her points. This book is for you if you are trying to get up the courage to try a new venture (she will help you want to jump off the precipice); if you don’t think you could escape the 9-5 (for curiosity purposes) and if you have a niggle but you don’t know what it is (this could be your key!). Read my full review here.

The Jane Austen Guide to Happily Ever After, Elizabeth KantorJane Austen Guide

The aptly named Elizabeth Kantor takes you through an intelligent reading of Austen’s work with the thesis that Austen’s heroines provide a road map to clever dating. Kantor recommends a rational analysis of prospective heroes using a set of very Austen-ite categories, before you are too emotionally invested to make a sensible decision. I wrote a full review here.

The Ten Day MBA, Steten day mbaven Silbiger

I’ll be honest; I only read the Accounting and Finance sections of this book. But it was well written, clearly presented and I have used the knowledge I gained already. An introductory knowledge of economics, accounting and marketing are useful before digging into this tome of knowledge.

10,001 Ways to live Large on a Small Budget, the writers of Wise Bread

This handy, quick read book provides tips for frugal living and personal finance. It provides great tips like how to throw frugal parties; travelling on the cheap and saving three months salary (don’t buy a diamond engagement ring!). It’s worth a read.

How to Make Money on Your Blog, Duane Forrester and Gavin Powellhow to make money on your blog

This book is an easy to read technically focused book on starting, growing and monetizing a blog. I have pages of notes of things to try, including some plug-ins, search engine optimization work and tips on how to write good blog posts. If you’re really game there is some HTML code speak!

Smart Money: How to Structure Your New Zealand Business or Investments and Pay Less Tax, Sheryl Sutherland and Martz Witty

This is a good book to take you through the peculiarities of the New Zealand tax system. It talks about tax compliance, deductable expenses, common tax traps, tax audit guides, investment information and business planning. It is a well written, easy to read book.

Confessions of a Lapsed Catholicconfessions of a lapsed catholic, Sheila Cassidy

What a life story! This woman is amazing. She writes of the sublime beauty of nature and how that makes her feel closer to her concept of God than church services full of people. It was timely reading for me in terms of my currently expanding worldviews. The most profound piece of learning this book provided was, “There was no word [in Jesus’ teaching] about celibacy, or the evils of homosexuality; there was nothing about birth control, churchgoing, or respect for Bishops. No. He told us to love one another as he had loved us.” p141.

North and South, Elizabeth GaskellNorth and South

Proving that second readings of classics only gets better; I have delved back into Margaret’s 19th Century Milton (England). I would love to do an essay on the portrayal of social justice in this book. This is an excellent book from the time of the Brontës. Written in the Victorian period, but influenced by the ever-present Romantic period, the tensions between classes and sexes are vividly drawn by Gaskell. Margaret is on the cusp of two worlds as an ex-minister’s daughter living in a manufacturing town. The plight of the working class weighs heavily on her heart and her views (clearly ahead of her time) are that of equality. Like Pride and Prejudice this is a book of intense feeling, beautifully portrayed characters and the development of a deep relationship (firmly based on respect) between the hero and heroine.

Fancy, Writing

Excellent Articles in my Pocket

Time zooms by when you’re having fun, May is gone and it is midyear already! One of the ways I manage my hectic schedule is by putting articles aside into the Pocket application on my phone and tablet for later reading (like when I am waiting for my brothers after school).

Below are some of the articles I have saved, read and loved lately:

Writing Novels Teens Want To Read, by Diane Lee Wilson at

Diane Lee Wilson imparts some tips for writing for the teen audience amid the context of the faced paced, social media-driven world.

Creating your one page business plan and path to profit, by Natalie at suitcaseentrepreneur.comsuitcase entrepreneur

This is a great post to take you through the creation of a one page business plan, Natalie has many amazing resources and posts on her site.

Writing the Kind of Novel You Want To Write, by Lish McBride at

This writer talks about choosing the genre of your story and how sometimes what you write isn’t the type of the novel you envisioned you’d write.

12 Reasons I’m a Minimalist, by Dan Garner at

He presents 12 real reasons he is a minimalist. It’s a great post and I agree with his reasons.

Novelicious Chats To… Lucy Clark, by Debs Carr at novelicious.comTen books to read all about authors

This site has lots of great reviews and interviews with authors asking things like what is your writing day is like and what inspires them.

How to Push Your Characters to Their Limits,

This site has many excellent articles that I get delivered to my inbox in newsletters and I always send them to Pocket to read later.

The Greatest Books of All Time as Voted by 125 Famous, by Maria Popova at

I haven’t read all the books on their list, but including The Great Gatsby in the top ten works of the 20th century inclines me to read on. Anna Karenina is number one and Emma is number ten in the top ten works of the 19th century. Jane Austen is number four out of the top ten authors by number of books selected. I’m happy.

buffy summersHow Buffy Summers Made Me a Feminist, by a male reader at hellogiggles.comHello giggles

Articles like these are why I love Hello Giggles! Funny, irreverent and well written.