Sunday, June 30, 2013

Skillet's 'RISE' [Album Review]

'Rise' was just released this past Tuesday (6/25) and being that I haven't yet stopped listening to the album, (I haven't listened to an album like this, non-stop, probably since Metallica's 'Death Magnetic' back in 2008!) I figured that I may as well give a quick review of it...

Band Members:
John Cooper - Lead Vocals, Bass, and Acoustic Guitar
Korey Cooper (John's Wife) - Keyboards/Programming, Rhythm Guitar, Back-Up Vocals
Jen Ledger - Drums and Vocals
Seth Morrison - Lead Guitar

Track Listing:
1. Rise
2. Sick of It
3. Good to be Alive
4. Not Gonna Die
5. Circus for a Psycho
6. American Noise
7. Madness in Me
8. Salvation
9. Fire and Fury
10. My Religion
11. Hard to Find
12. What I Believe
*Note, I highly recommend purchasing the "Deluxe Album"...
13. Battlecry
14. Everything Goes Black
15. Freakshow
*Not only do you get the 3 additional bonus tracks, it also comes with a Live DVD (of Skillet's 'Awake & Live' Tour - featuring some great songs from their 2006 album 'Comatose' and their 2009 album 'Alive', as well as a slew of "Behind the Scenes" and a Documentary of "the making of" 'Rise')

Before I continue, some of you may be unfamiliar with Skillet... (seriously?!?)
They are a Christian Hard Rock Band (before you let that detour you, I have secular friends, including atheists, who dig this band! Just watch the below video, if you still have any doubts) who have been around since 1996. 'Rise' is their 9th album.

Once you listen to Skillet, you will realize that lead singer, John Cooper, has a very distinct singing voice. On past albums, Cooper's wife handled back-up vocals, which she will still do occasionally, however, in 2008(?) Jen Ledger became Skillet's drummer (at the age of 18!) and now predominately handles the back-up vocals (She Rocks! Both her vocals and her drumming!) You should see her drumming & singing, all while being spun around 30+ feet in the air...!
*side-note, I love Korey's voice as well - picture her on guitar & keyboards (back-and-forth) as well as background vocals.
Skillet is indeed a multi-talented band!

I digress... 'Rise' is Skillet's 1st "Concept Album" telling the story of a teen coming into adulthood, in this crazy, mixed-up world of ours...

'Rise' is hands-down my favorite Skillet album (taking the place of their 2001 album 'Alien Youth')

My top 5 songs off of the album:
Sick of It (see the below video)
American Noise
Fire & Fury (love this song! a perfect blending of Cooper & Ledger's voices)
My Religion
also, off of the Bonus Tracks - I love Freakshow!

Once again, you don't have to accept them as a Christian Band (though that is who they are, and they will not shy away from that)
Just think of them as a Rockin' band with a positive message/lyrics...

Here is their Official Video for Sick of It:

(I love that stage!)


Monday, June 24, 2013

Far Far Away [Book Review]

Genre - Children's Fiction/Teens/Young Adult
Year Published - 2013 (Published by Random House Children's Books)
Length - 212 [digital] pages *Read on the MYeebo App (not recommended)
Written by Tom McNeal

Rating: 3 Skulls

Tagline: "Far Far Away is closer than you think."

Plot Summary:
It says quite a lot about Jeremy Johnson Johnson that the strangest thing about him isn't even the fact his mother and father both had the same last name. Jeremy once admitted he's able to hear voices, and the townspeople of Never Better have treated him like an outsider since.
After his mother left, his father became a recluse, and it's been up to Jeremy to support the family. But it hasn't been up to Jeremy alone. The truth is, Jeremy can hear voices. Or, specifically, one voice: the voice of the ghost of Jacob Grimm, one half of the infamous writing duo, the Brothers Grimm.
Jacob watches over Jeremy, protecting him from an unknown dark evil whispered about in the space between this world and the next. But when the provocative local girl, Ginger Boultinghouse, takes an interest in Jeremy (and his unique abilities), a grim chain of events is put into motion. And as anyone familiar with the Grimm Brothers know, not all fairy tales have happy endings. . .

Book Trailer:
I do not recall having ever bought a book, strictly from a book trailer, however, this one sold me immediately:

Set in the town of Never Better, is this tale of a shy boy, with an exceptional talent, an outgoing girl, and a ghost from the Zwischenraum (the "space between"). 
The ghost can see, but cannot touch. He can smell, but cannot taste. He can suffer, but cannot weep. He can hasten, but cannot fly. He can rest, but cannot sleep, and he can speak, but cannot be heard, except by the shy boy, Jeremy Johnson Johnson.

It seems that only the troubled remain behind, and the ghost of Jacob Grimm believes that he is the appointed protector of Jeremy Johnson Johnson - protecting him from a dark evil called the Finder of Occasions (someone who lies in wait until the opportunity is afforded to do harm or wreak havoc, without leaving a trace behind).

Will this fairy tale end happily ever after?

What I enjoyed most about this book was McNeal's very visual writing style - extremely vivid - bringing the tale to life, directly in my head.
Recommended for any fans of the Grimm Brothers (tons of history/knowledge about them in this tale), or any fans of fairy tales, in general.


Monday, June 10, 2013

'14' [Book Review]

Genre - Mystery/Science Fiction/Fantasy/Thriller/Horror
Year Published - 2012 (Published by Permuted Press)
Length - I have no idea the actual length of this book - I read it on my Kindle App, on my Samsung Galaxy Note 2, and there it stated 8,330 (phone) pages.
Written by Peter Clines

Rating: 5 Skulls

[***I recommend that you skip the plot summary, entirely, and just dive headlong into the book - that's what I did, and I think it enhanced the mystery of it all***]
However, if you insist, here it is...

Plot Summary:
Padlocked doors. Strange lightfixtures. Mutant Cockroaches.

There are some odd things about Nate's new apartment.

Of course, he has other things on his mind. He hates his job. He has no money in the bank. No girlfriend. No plans for the future. So while his new home isn't perfect, it's livable. The rent is low, the property managers are friendly, and the odd little mysteries don't nag at him too much.

At least not until he meets Mandy, his neighbor across the hall, and notices something unusual about her apartment. And Xela's apartment. And Tim's. And Veek's.

Because every room in this old Los Angeles brownstone has a mystery or two. Mysteries that stretch back over a hundred years. Some of them are in plain sight. Some are behind locked doors. And all together these mysteries could mean the end of Nate and his friends.

Or the end of everything. . .

This book has been on my reading list, probably since January - I kept seeing it pop up, on at least 3 or 4 different occasions, as "Best Book of 2012" and after having now read it, I can definitely see why this was the case, and why it will definitely appear on my list of best books read this year, come December.

Other than the above, the only thing that I knew about this book, going in, was the blurb on the front cover - "A riveting apocalyptic mystery in the style of LOST" (a perfect description by the way! Any fan of the television show 'Lost' should definitely read this book!)
As I stated earlier, above the Plot Summary, I am actually glad that I started reading this book without reading the description first - it added to the mystery, and I would recommend that you do the same.

Peter Clines did an outstanding job writing this book! Each character is well fleshed out and easily related to. The book is perfectly paced - Clines will drive you right to the edge,and then he'll solve pieces of the mystery, just before you think that you'll go mad without knowing what is going on and why.
Just wait until you see what is behind the door of apartment #14!

I definitely recommend this book! (especially if you are a fan of Lovecraft!)

If you enjoy Mystery novels - great!
If you prefer Science Fiction/Fantasy - fantastic!
If you love Thrillers or Horror - excellent!
If you are a fan of only one or two of the above, still give the book a shot - I bet that you will be pleasantly surprised!


Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Jenny Ringo and the Cabaret from Hell [Short Film]

Genre - Short/Horror/Comedy
Year Released - 2013
Running Time: 24 minutes
Directed by Chris Regan
Written by Geraint D'Arcy
Cast Includes: Rosie Duncan, Lukas Habberton, Andromeda Godfrey, and Christophe Phillips

Rating: 4 Skulls


Plot Summary:
A short horror-comedy about magic, music, and monsters.

When a spell to help Gavin audition as a singer in a Cabaret club backfires, Jenny finds herself trapped in her flatmate's body! But there are far worse surprises waiting for her in the mysterious Cabaret club where the audience feasts on the souls of the performers, and the MC keeps a terrifying secret in a bucket in her office.

Can Jenny reverse the spell, save Gavin, and defeat the demon MC before they both become lunch for the thing in the bucket?

Note: This film will be released on the 18th of this month. In order to see it, all you have to do is visit and sign up on the mailing list. You will then be sent a link, on the 18th, to view the film. You will be glad that you did...

For those who may be unaware, this is the 2nd adventure of Jenny Ringo and her slacker flatmate Gavin. (their 1st adventure was 'Jenny Ringo and the Monkey's Paw' - you can read my review of it, posted back in January)
There is not really a need to see that one before you see this one, but I would still recommend it, as it sets the stage for (hopefully) more adventures yet to come.
You can view that film, immediately, at the jennyringo website (above).

As for this adventure... another great one! The circumstances that Jenny & Gavin find themselves in are just too funny! Kudos to Geraint D'Arcy who wrote this adventure - very comical! And another great directing job by Chris Regan and performances from leads Rosie Duncan (Jenny) and Lukas Habberton (Gavin).

While Jenny (a witch) attempts to clean up their messy flat, using magic, Gavin informs her that he never paid the prior month's rent - he was distracted by a potential job opportunity, performing in a Cabaret club. 
Unbeknownst to either of them, the MC of the club is a demon who feeds on the hopes & talents of the performers, all the while marinating them in exhaustion and despair...
This all leads up to a very funny musical number (based on a play that Gavin & Jenny wrote, based on all of the slasher films from the 80's)

Hopefully we will get to see future adventures of Jenny & Gavin, in the future. In the meantime, I definitely recommend that you subscribe to the above mentioned mailing list, and that you check this film out when it is released on the 18th - funny stuff!