Thursday, May 3, 2018

'All the Castles Burned:' SERIOUS LITERARY FICTION, But Do We Care?

All the Castles BurnedAll the Castles Burned by Michael Nye

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I suppose this is meant to be Literary and Serious, but in all honesty, it doesn't have much of a plot. It's more of a character study of Owen Webb, and he's essentially the same person at 28 that he is at 16. Granted, he's a likable person, and as someone who was also 16 in the 1990s, I can relate to many of his thoughts and actions. But he has very little agency in his own life. Things happen to him and happen around him, but seldom happen because of him.

Perhaps because of this, we read the Climactic Scene secondhand through Owen's mother, and that makes it less than climactic. The ending feels very tacked-on.

The explicitly-stated moral of this character study is that one should always have a mother, because it's the motherless boy who turns out Bad. Even a half-assed mother is better than none, according to Nye's narration. Owen, of course, has no control over the fact that his mother is present and largely functional, despite dabbling in alcoholism. But we're told that this is what allows him to grow up to be, presumably, a pretty decent person.

I like Owen, but I'd rather read about what happens to him in the boxing ring as a grown-up man with grown-up thoughts than secondhand witness what he passively witnesses as a fairly typical adolescent. Owen's teenage problems are very much First World Problems. At no time in the novel is he in any immediate danger, which makes the stakes of his entire story feel quite low.

Michael Nye, please raise the stakes next time.

I won an uncorrected proof of this book from the publisher in a random drawing and was not obligated in any way to review it.

View all my reviews on Goodreads

Friday, April 27, 2018

'Avengers: Infinity War' Gets Dirty (Press Release) - 18+ Only/NSFW

[Press Release. All clickable links go to other pages on the Pagan Spirits Book Blog.] 

(Woodland Hills, CA) April 27, 2018 – The Avengers: Infinity War movie is coming...in more ways than one! And WoodRocket, the Adult studio behind Dragon Boob Z and Game of Bones is celebrating by building a giant Infinity Gauntlet Sex Machine!
 
The video featuring Adult Stars building and testing out the Infinity Gauntlet Sex Machine premieres Friday, April 27th on WoodRocket and Pornhub for free with a full Avengers-Themed Sex Machine Sex video: Assvengers VS Infinity Sex Machine is available exclusively on Pornhub Premium.

 
Adult starlet Daisy Ducati teams up with Thanos' horny cousin, Thanus, and the WoodRocket team to build a 4-foot tall replica of Thanos' famous gold fist, the Infinity Gauntlet. But since this is for WoodRocket and Pornhub, they turn that big space glove statue into a sex machine and the Infinity Stones into Infinity Bones: a vibrator, a magic wand, a lubricant squirter, a thrusting dildo, a clitoral stimulator, and to clean up afterwards, a wet wipe dispenser.
 
Watch the SFW version of Infinity Gauntlet Sex Machine on YouTube at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L-Ew-2Zecm4
 
Watch the Uncensored X-rated version of "Building the Infinity Gauntlet Sex Machine" at WoodRocket.com and Pornhub.com.
 
Check out the Assvengers VS Infinity Sex Machine scene exclusively at PornhubPremium.com.
 
WoodRocket mixes porn, comedy, pop culture, and it redefines adult entertainment. Creating popular high-quality stuff like Ask A Porn Star,  Topless Girls Reading Books, Porn Stars Reading Hate Mail, and porn parodies like Ten Inch Mutant Ninja Turtles, Dick and Morty, Strok√©mon, and Bob's Boners, WoodRocket is the future of porn. 

WoodRocket's content has been featured on Buzzfeed, Uproxx, Gizmodo, Maxim, Complex, AV Club, Spin, Rolling Stone, The Howard Stern Show, GQ, Vice, Esquire, The Hollywood Reporter, @Midnight, Bon Appetit, and more.
 

Media Contact: BSG PR / Brian S. Gross / 818-340-4422 / brian@bsgpr.com

Thursday, March 22, 2018

'Quidditch Through the Ages' Audiobook Read by Andrew Lincoln

Slight spoilers below if you haven't already listened to this audiobook. Nothing major - no Cursed Child-type surprises. 

When I first read Quidditch Through the Ages by "Kennilworthy Whisp," one of the schoolbooks Harry Potter and his cohort are said to have read and studied at Hogwarts, I wasn't too impressed. Quidditch was never one of my favorite aspects of the Harry Potter books, although I do have quite the fondness for some of the lady quidditch players, especially Ginny Weasley and Angelina Johnson. But the history of the sport didn't interest me, so I only gave it three stars on Goodreads.

Still, it sounded like fun to listen to the new audiobook version read by Andrew Lincoln, available through Pottermore. It has sound effects and bonus material, namely new writing by J.K. Rowling. It consists of 21 tracks, of which the first 12 are the actual text of the book.

Andrew Lincoln has a lovely reading voice. I can imagine it's the voice Edgar Linton used to read bedtime stories to baby Judith Cathy Linton before he remarried Michonne and lived happily ever after sadly passed away. Somehow his natural English accent sounds nothing at all like Rick Grime's Georgia accent. Actors are amazing.

The audiobook's bonus tracks also feature the voice of Imogen Church as Ginny Weasley-Potter (reading bulletins she wrote for the Daily Prophet as a Quidditch World Cup correspondent) and Annette Badland as Rita Skeeter (gossiping at the World Cup finals).

https://whompingwillowy.tumblr.com/post/170186950554/i-woke-up-to-such-news-my-fandoms-collide

A portion of the proceeds from sales of this audiobook go to charity, so I didn't feel bad at all about paying the $16 to Pottermore. One charity is the Lumos Foundation, which helps support families who might otherwise give their children up for adoption, since it's normally in a child's best interest to stay with their birth family whenever possible. Its goal is to reduce the number of children who live in the world's orphanages. The other charity is Comic Relief UK, which supports poverty alleviation projects.

Introduction

The first track of this book is an introduction by Albus Dumbledore. Dumbledore describes the process of borrowing the Hogwarts library's copy of Quidditch Through the Ages from librarian Madame Pince, who was not keen on letting the book be released into the muggle world. Lincoln reads this chapter in the voice of elderly Dumbledore. It's amusing, but I'm glad he doesn't have to use this voice for the entire book.

Chapter Three

This chapter relays the recollections of early quidditch play recorded by Gertie Kettle at Queerditch Marsh. Andrew Lincoln's Gertie Kettle voice is one of the funniest parts of this book.


Chapter Ten

Lincoln pronounces "patent" with a long A. It's the most British thing I've ever heard, aside from perhaps Benedict Cumberbatch's guest appearance on The Simpsons.


...which is, of course, a parody of Love Actually, in which Andrew Lincoln plays would-be wife-stealer Mark.

Afterward 

In the 12th track, Lincoln reads the biography of Kennilworthy Whisp and the book's "reviews" from in-world celebrities such as Rita Skeeter. The best of these reviews, in Lincoln's reading, is from Gilderoy Lockhart. He might have been brilliant at playing Lockhart, had he been given the chance. (No offence to Sir Kenneth Branagh.)

History of the Quidditch World Cup

In this bonus material, track 13, Lincoln does Viktor Krum's Bulgarian accent, and this is very cute. You'll be happy to know that Viktor is still playing competitive quidditch at the age of 38.

Quidditch World Cup 2014 - First Round Matches (Track 15)

The match between Chad and Lichtenstein seems like it will never even, and Imogen Church's Ginny sounds sufficiently exasperated at the seemingly-endless play. Church's real accomplishment, though, is pronouncing the many multi-ethnic names required of her here. In this bonus chapter we learn that Viktor Krum has come out of retirement to play again at the age of 38 and that he's the oldest player in the tournament.

Quidditch World Cup 2014 - Rita Skeeter's Gossip Column (Track 18)

Skeeter is a notoriously unreliable narrator, and she's clearly jealous of Ginny. Should we believe her when she reports that Harry, age 34, has some streaks of gray in his black hair?

Rita Skeeter is certainly a character one loves to hate; I'd have some words for her over her snark about Hermione's hair or her speculation about why Charlie Weasley is still unmarried. (He's probably just asexual.)

I hope she's correct in her assessment that Bill and Fleur's daughter Victoire and Harry's godson Teddy Lupin are taking every available opportunity to sneak off to a dark corner and snog.

Quidditch World Cup Final 2014 - Live Match Commentary (Track 20)

Rita Skeeter and Ginny Potter perform the live match commentary together (with a brief introduction narrated by Andrew Lincoln). It's the most highly-enhanced track as far as sound effects. Harry, James Sirius, and Lily Luna are rooting for Viktor's Bulgarian team in the finals, but Albus Severus is rooting for Brazil. They're sitting with Neville Longbottom.

Skeeter also gives us a vivid description of Luna Lovegood's wedding dress when she married Rolf Scamander (grandson of Newt Scamander and Tina Goldstein): "Rainbows, spangles, and a tiara of silver unicorn horns." It sounds awesome.

Will Viktor Krum finally walk away with a Quidditch World Cup trophy on his third attempt? If he does, will Ron still be jealous of Hermione's teenage crush on Viktor? Will Ginny jinx Rita to get her to shut up? You'll have to listen to find out.

And the 21st and Final Track...

...is only the credits and a little spiel about Pottermore, read by Andrew Lincoln.

Summary

If you're not the biggest fan of sports/quidditch, you won't find this the most interesting of J.K. Rowling's books. It certainly relies much less on traditional mythologies than, say, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. The voice actors' performances are enjoyable, but not so amazing that they can hold your attention if you're simply not interested in the material. But if you're like me and you feel compelled to read all of J.K. Rowling's books, you're going to listen to this anyway. And you should, because the proceeds are going to a really good cause.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

'The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue' by Mackenzi Lee

The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue (Guide, #1)The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I am SO MAD at this book -- HOW DAre it just end THERE?!?!

Seriously, though, this is well-crafted piece of historical fiction about three young adults on their Grand Tour of Europe in the early 18th century. Their adventures are over-the-top and ludicrous, and that's part of the book's charm.

The real "alchemical heart" of the book is the friendship between our heroes, Henry "Monty" Montague and his BFF Percy. As a clever(ish) social media quote goes, "A good romance starts with friendship. A bad romance starts with Rah rah ah-ah-ah! Ro mah ro-mah-mah..." Monty and Percy are friends, but Monty is desperately in love.


The question of whether Percy considers Monty as anything more than a dear friend is resolved at the very end, which is why I need there to be...more book. Overall, it's a charming adventure story, quite briskly paced in parts, with a throbbing emotional heart.

I purchased my copy at Forever Books with my own funds and was not obligated in any way to review it.

View all my reviews on Goodreads

Monday, March 12, 2018

'La Belle Sauvage' (The Book of Dust, #1) by Philip Pullman

La Belle Sauvage (The Book of Dust, #1)La Belle Sauvage by Philip Pullman

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I'm a big fan of the series. I wish everyone would read the His Dark Materials trilogy because I want everyone to know what Philip Pullman knows about love, as explained through the third book, The Amber Spyglass.

I read La Belle Sauvage in February and I quite enjoyed it. As often happens when I read a book that blows my mind, it takes me a while to be able to articulate why I loved it like I did.

Malcolm is a good boy, and I love his reverence for baby Lyra. The little scene of Lord Asriel being parental with Lyra was heartwarming, the fairy tale scenes felt very magical to me, and Malcolm's first inklings of coming of age and perhaps starting to fall in love made me want to keep reading about him.

Overall, I thought this was a wonderful addition to the His Dark Materials universe.


View all my reviews on Goodreads

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Sssh.com’s Angie Rowntree to Speak at #SXSW this Weekend

Note: Press Release


 “Using Explicit Sex as a Storytelling Element” featuring Rowntree will be held on March 11

March 8, 2018 (Austin, TX) -- Sssh.com’s Angie Rowntree will be in Austin, Texas this weekend for SXSW. The esteemed director will speak on the panel “Using Explicit Sex as a Storytelling Element.”

The event will be held on Sunday March 11, 2018 at 3:30 PM. The panel’s official hashtag is #sexstoryfilm.

In addition to discussing artistic and technical choices related to using explicit sex in filmmaking, Rowntree will also discuss various social and cultural issues impacting adult content production today. These include safety standards, workplace ethics, representation, and common misperceptions of porn.

“I appreciate the opportunity to speak about the differences between mainstream and adult films - and the unique challenges that come with shooting porn,” Rowntree shared.

“Really engaging why explicit sex is important to our narrative as human beings and talking about some of the misconceptions people outside the adult industry have about shooting adult content -- and how work like mine is challenging some of those off-mark ideas -- is important. I’m excited to take part,” she added.

Later that evening, Rowntree’s work will be part of a small private screening — #SexStoryFilmFest — at the Austin Dungeon. Tickets for this seperate event can be purchased for $12 via EventBrite here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/ sexstoryfilmfest-indie-adult- film-screening-tickets- 43580022019?aff=PW

SXSW Film 2018 runs from March 9 through 18. For more details about SXSW Film 2018, please go here: http://www.sxsw.com/film

About Angie Rowntree

Angie Rowntree is the founder of Sssh.com, the web’s premier “porn for women” site and winner of the XBIZ’s Adult Site of the Year -- For Women 2017 award, among many others. Rowntree got her start in the adult industry’s online sector in the early ‘90s, making her one of the Internet’s true porn pioneers. She is regarded as one of the adult industry’s top female power-players and was inducted into the prestigious AVN Hall of Fame – Internet Founders Division in 2014.

Rowntree is a frequent participant on panel discussions at adult industry trade shows and has been profiled by a variety of major media outlets, including ABC’s Nightline, CNBC, Fox, Cosmopolitan, NPR, BBC, and TIME magazine. Most recently, Rowntree became the first member of the adult industry to speak at a Sundance Institute event, appearing at the “Creative Tensions: Sex” experimental interactive discussion event in Brooklyn.

Contact Angie Rowntree at via Twitter at @AngieRowntree.

About Sssh.com

Launched in 1999, Sssh.com is the web’s premier “porn for women” site. Drawing on survey responses and other community feedback, Sssh creates cinematic-quality erotic content based on members’ fantasies and desires. Sssh’s sex-positive films and vignettes communicate true passion and mutual pleasure, always striving to be equal parts intelligent, sexy, and entertaining -- with great success. Their movies and the site itself have been honored with numerous awards and nominations over the years, including most recently Adult Site of the Year -- For Women (XBIZ 2017). Sssh was the first adult company to be a semi-finalist at a mainstream film festival (Gone, Swedish Film Festival, 2016) and was the first to produce a VR movie geared towards women using dynamic storytelling that can be viewed with or without a headset.

A narrative-rich space, Sssh.com also offers a large selection of original erotic fiction, podcasts, an extensive virtual world, and educational articles. Sssh produces the Mindbrowse events, an interactive series of online live panel discussions that explore social issues related to sexuality and erotica. The weekly Twitter-based chat program #SexTalkTuesday has featured noteworthy guest moderators including comedian Margaret Cho, sexpert Emily Morse, and performance artist Desiree Burch, among many others. And in an effort to support wider positive social change, Sssh contributes regularly to a variety of charitable causes benefiting communities around the world.

Adhering to the highest ethical standards, Sssh.com takes pride in treating its employees, performers, customers, business associates, and wider community with fairness, compassion, and respect. Sssh is a member of the Ethical Porn Partnership and was one of the first studios to receive the Adult Performer Advocacy Committee (APAC) Stamp of Approval in January 2017.

Contact Sssh.com via Twitter at @SsshforWomen.

Media Contact:
Brian Gross
BSG PR
818-340-4422
brian@bsgpr.com

Friday, March 9, 2018

The Book Adaptation Tag

I borrowed this tag from Ronnie at Paradise Found.

1. What is the last book adaptation movie you saw?


2. What movie are you most excited for?


3. Which upcoming movie will you definitely NOT see?

I have zero interest in Red Sparrow. It's just not my kind of thing.

4. Which book movie would you NEVER watch again?

Maybe Where the Wild Things Are. I felt like the movie sucked all the fun out of the book and made it preachy and sad.

5. Is there a movie you saw that made you want to read the book if you hadn't/haven't yet?

More than once, yes. The Vampire Academy movie made me read the whole series.  Beautiful Creatures made me read the first two books. I wanted to finish the series but I never have.

6. Conversely, is there a movie that made you never want to read the book?

I hardly ever think to myself that I absolutely never want to read a book, because my interests change all the time. I can't think of one I never want to read, but I probably won't read, for example, Kathryn Stockett's The Help, even though I liked the movie. I already know the plot now and I usually don't enjoy reading racist characters, even if they do get their comeuppance.

Maybe Cloud Atlas because that movie left me both sad and confused.

7. Name an adaptation that has almost nothing to do with the book it is supposedly based on.

Howl's Moving Castle, but I love both the book and the very-different movie.

8. Have you ever left the theatre during a movie adaptation because it was so bad?

Nope. The only movie I ever walked out of Saving Private Ryan because my best friend got grossed out by the gory violence.

9. Do you prefer to watch the movie or read the book first?

I prefer to read the book first, but I don't always do it. There are a lot of book adaptations I like but still haven't read the book they were based on. Coraline by Neil Gaiman is one.


10. How do you feel about movie adaptations that age characters up? (ex. characters that are in middle-school, but in the movies they are 18)

I don't really have any feelings on this one. I can't think of an example.

11. Do you get angry when the actors don't look like you thought the characters looked?

Sometimes, a little. I usually end up liking the movie version anyway, but occasionally I like my fictional image better than the movie image.

12. Is there a movie you liked better than its book?

I like the 2002 adaptation of The Count of Monte Cristo a little better than the book, but bear in mind that I really, really love the book too. I just like the movie ending better.

13. Name a book that you'd like to see as a movie.


If you'd like to answer these questions, here's the question set.

1. What is the last book adaptation movie you saw?
2. What movie are you most excited for?
3. Which upcoming movie will you definitely NOT see?
4. Which book movie would you NEVER watch again?
5. Is there a movie you saw that made you want to read the book if you hadn't/haven't yet?
6. Conversely, is there a movie that made you never want to read the book?
7. Name an adaptation that has almost nothing to do with the book it is supposedly based on.
8. Have you ever left the theatre during a movie adaptation because it was so bad?
9. Do you prefer to watch the movie or read the book first?
10. How do you feel about movie adaptations that age characters up? (ex. characters that are in middle-school, but in the movies they are 18)
11. Do you get angry when the actors don't look like you thought the characters looked?
12. Is there a movie you liked better than its book?
13. Name a book that you'd like to see as a movie.