Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Random Magic Tour: Pirates! - Parting Glass

Today’s the wrap day for Random Magic Tour: Pirates! (May 10-30).

As one of the mates - ahoy, matey! - sailing with this crew of buccaneers, would like to say thank you for visiting the blog on our Video Discussion and hope you also enjoyed some of the other great blogs on the tour.

Plus to celebrate this awesome Pirate tour we got some special official posts out of the schedule: Under The Black Flag (some pirate history) and a cool PC Video Game for you to win.
As for the unnoficial special posts we had some reviews related to Pirates: Pirates of Caribbean: On Stranger Tides Movie Review, The Dust of 100 Dogs Book Review, Steel Book Review.

For the wrap day of the tour, we’re just going to raise a final pint o’ grog to say thanks for the good company and may your days be filled with smooth seas ahead, good grub, solid comrades, romance and adventure. Yaaaargh.

As this particular traditional toasting song goes, good night and joy be to you all!

Message in a Bottle: visit Liana's Paper Doll Blog to see the Pirate Queen Sasha and read more about her at Moonlight Gleam's Bookshelf.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Steel, Book Review

Sixteen-year-old Jill has fought in dozens of fencing tournaments, but she has never held a sharpened blade. When she finds a corroded sword piece on a Caribbean beach, she is instantly intrigued and pockets it as her own personal treasure.

The broken tip holds secrets, though, and it transports Jill through time to the deck of a pirate ship. Stranded in the past and surrounded by strangers, she is forced to sign on as crew. But a pirate's life is bloody and brief, and as Jill learns about the dark magic that brought her there, she forms a desperate scheme to get home—one that risks everything in a duel to the death with a villainous pirate captain.

Time travel, swordplay, and romance combine in an original high-seas adventure from New York Times bestseller Carrie Vaughn.

Steel by Carrie Vaughn
ebook, 304 pages
Published March, 2011 by HarperCollin Publishers

REVIEW(select to read the spoiler): 
Seriously isn't this cover just perfect? It's just so beautiful! The previous book of Carrie Vaughn i've read (Voices of Dragons) had a really bad cover but either way the book was amazing! And i can tell you the same for this one.

Time travel stories are really in trend lately, and Steel is one of the best ones i've read. We follow Jill back to the pirates times when accidentally appears there by finding the hilt of a blade at the beach. Looks like the hilt has some blood magic in it, and now she is one of the main characters in an old story between two fearsome pirates and she doesn't even know it.

I think the best part of the book is Jill. I really liked the way she viewed the world. She was disappointed with herself but through her adventure she grow as a person and learned from everything she experienced. She learned that losing is not always bad. Her view on what happened to her, reminds me of how i think as well. She believed she was dreaming, but she told herself "play with it til you get up. you have nothing to lose". And as how her little romance with a boy at the ship she was on...she understood that it was a summer love and NOT her love of her life, to be sad and crying or wanna kill herself for losing him. It was a sweet memory of her past. She was also normally afraid at the battles, and not playing i'm awesome from the start.

As for the story i enjoy it too. They were good and bad pirates. They were some famous ones. Actions, killing, slaves, betrayal, rum...even Tortuga if i remember right! The author while she creates some "good" pirates, she doesn't change what pirates really were. How bad their actions were.

So it's time traveling, pirates, romance, magic, adventure and great characters. Yep! Try it ;)

Random Magic Tour: Pirates! - Video Game

Random Magic Tour: Pirates!
May 10-30, 2011
About: Random Magic 
Tour organization: Lyrika Publicis
Triton Tavern proprietress and guest relations: vvb32
Contact the tour: @RandomMagicTour 

On the blog:
Special Post: Video Game

 Arrrgh, good work, matey - ye’ve found a secret stash of plunder.

You can play to win this Little Pirate Prize, and plenty of other wonderful things scattered throughout Random Magic Tour: Pirates! (May 10-30)  

Pirates: Live The Life
Video game

Description: Fun, colorful and simple-to-play pirate adventure to take you away from the daily grind. Run away and join a scurrilous crew of sea dogs, or sail the seas as captain of your own ship.

Take the leading role of a 17th century pirate captain sailing the Caribbean Sea, winning fortune and fame in an attempt to seize your rightful place as one of the most revered (and feared!) pirates in history.

Test your skills as an adventurous seafarer, exploring the high seas and exotic ports in a richly detailed 3-D world.

Great gameplay and design simplicity, varied role-playing experience that includes multiple paths to a colorful life, a longstanding vendetta laid to rest, and a wealthy retirement.

Shown above: Nice detailed video review of the game, includes story
summary, gameplay footage, cutscene  clips.

Details: Video game, PC, Windows 98/2000/Me/XP, 2004. Inducted into the Hall of Fame by gaming mags Computer Gaming World and GameSpy, voted one of the top 20 all-time games by Computer Gaming World.

* Go on multiple quests through a non-linear timeline, where every
decision poses different outcomes and possibilities.
* Battle, overtake and command 27 different ship types.
* Face down various foes, including merchant and military captains,
ferocious pirates, evil gentry and even rival suitors.
* Fight enemies on board ships, in taverns, even at the governor's mansion.
* Engage in fierce naval battles fighting single enemies or multiple ships.
* Increase your riches -- and even your dancing abilities.
* Collect swords, spyglasses, armor, hats, coats, etc.
* Sneak into towns, escape out of prisons, navigate around adversaries
and surprise unsuspecting vessels.
* Dispatch landing parties of buccaneers in strategic battles to take
over entire cities.

A diverting, swashbuckling adventure! The only drawback of this game is that it doesn’t seem to include any pirate women or heroines (boo!).

But all is not lost - if you’d enjoy reading about some interesting female pirates, feel free to browse the Pirate Queens series, a fun part of Random Magic Tour: Pirates!: Tour Schedule

In the meantime, have fun playing to win another tale of adventure and courage, in the fun computer game previewed at the top of this post. Ye can carry off this Little Pirate Prize! How to win:

* Win this cute pirate prize by:
1. Adding your email address in comments section
2a. In comments, add your Twitter link to this post
2b. In comments, add link to your quick blog mention about this post,
2c. In comments, add your blog post link about this post, the blog post can be brief or detailed, it’s up to you
2d. In comments, add your link to different tour post that you’ve also enjoyed, and why it was fun to read
2e. (Double, triple or quadruple your chances!) In comments, add your email address plus each of the above in up to four separate entries, for max of four chances to win
* (Helpful info) Yes,you can enter up to four times, giving you not just one but four chances to win this prize!
NOTE: Please include each entry (your email address plus Twitter/blog/tour post link) separately, since each entry will be assigned a separate number for the drawing.

So, one entry might look like this:
Entry #1: Email address + Twitter link

A second entry might look like this:
Entry #2: Email address + blog mention link

And so on.

* (Helpful info) If you need some help to see what the separate entries look like, please just click here: See Sample Entries
* (Details) The winner will be selected at random using random.org.
* (Details) You'll need a mailing address or P.O. box so the prize can be sent to you.
* (Details) This surprise prize is INTERNATIONAL. Open to all.
* (Details) Offer open through June 3, 2011, midnight, EST
* (Details) Winners announced June 6, 2011
* (Bonus) Find more surprise pirate prizes! Follow the tour


Bonus: Game: Rum + Plumber

Thanks for dropping by, hope you enjoyed your visit here! Here's another interesting tour feature for Random Magic Tour: Pirates! that you might also enjoy:

The main Rum + Plunder treasure hunt is open internationally!
Here’s a fun way to win something piratey and cool:
Browse prizes or join the hunt…

Bonus: Find even more pirate plunder, with Little Pirate Prizes, these aren't marked on the schedule and they're not part of the hunt, but they're out there for visitors to find, so have fun finding some cute pirate things: Follow the tour!

Have fun and good luck!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Random Magic Tour: Pirates! - Under The Black Flag

Random Magic Tour: Pirates!
May 10-30, 2011
About: Random Magic 
Tour organization: Lyrika Publicis
Triton Tavern proprietress and guest relations: vvb32
Contact the tour: @RandomMagicTour 

On The Blog:
Special Post: Under the Black Flag

Under the Black Flag

Today on Random Magic Tour: Pirates!, we’ll have a look at a series of pirate flags and share some tidbits about their collective history and significance.

In Random Magic, our mild-mannered hero Henry gets a nasty shock while aloft in the rigging, scanning the
waters ahead of the ship he’s traveling on. He sees something, but only when it’s already too late to run:
He scanned the water. Aha. There. If he squinted, he could just make out the ship’s flag. Black and white. A cricket bat -- no, two. No, maybe swords. Two crossed swords and a giant…apple…no. A skull. A skull and…He dropped the spyglass.A skull and crossbones. Pirates.
The flag flown to identify a particular ship usually identified its country of origin. Since pirates were under threat of capture and execution, they were outlaws without a homeland.

Some pirates did maintain an allegiance to their native countries. For example, English pirate Benjamin Hornigold refused to attack any ship flying British colors .

But it was much more common for pirates to consider themselves wanted men (or wanted women) -- which, indeed, they were. Although there’s the occasional story of a pirate who retired or gave up the sweet
trade, the reality is that most pirates died in battle or on the gallows.

Given that there really was no safe ‘home’ nation, they considered their own crews, the deck beneath their feet, the company of other pirates, to be their homeland.

There were sovereign nations ruled by kings and queens, but on the sea, pirates bowed to no authority but their own. Hence, they were, in the collective, a nation of their own. And a nation must have a flag.

Pirates lived with the constant threat of death -- they might be injured or killed in a fight to take a ship, they might die of an infected wound or contagious disease spread in close quarters, they might be captured and strung up.

So, rather than fear death, pirates grudgingly acknowledged this ever-constant, unwanted companion, with signs and symbols that acknowledged that the dark reaper was the shadowy captain of any pirate vessel that ever sailed.

Common emblems or symbols found on pirate flags, then, were the deadly tools of their trade, like spears or cutlasses and the marks of death victorious --skeletons, bones and blood, or that badge of piracy immediately
recognizable even to contemporary audiences, the skull and crossbones.

The background of flags were often black; this particular color choice likely originated from a grim maritime tradition -- black flags were flown on plague ships, as a warning that to board could be to risk a terrible death.

The tradition of hoisting a black flag -- or, in later days, a checkered yellow and black flag for improved visibility -- to warn other seafarers away from a plague ship, was still being used in 1896, as noted in this entry from the Encyclopædia Britannica, Vol. 22:

The existing British regulations are those of 9th November 1896;
they apply to yellow fever, plague and cholera. A stricken ship within
three miles of the shore must fly at the main a yellow and black flag
borne quarterly from sunrise to sunset.

Flags could identify a friendly ship, that of the same nation, or it might be used to signal a requested meeting alongside. Flags were used to communicate intent or origin in the Golden Age of Piracy, and they’re even used today, via the International Code of Signals (ICS), to communicate quickly in a visual form.
What pirate flags signified was trouble ahead for whoever was unlucky enough to see one…

Hoisting the skull and crossbones, or any flag with a similar motif, could be used as a visual threat to convince the captain of a pursued ship to surrender. Pirates weren’t bound by the traditional rules of engagement, and resistance might be met, not with capture and a ransom demand, but with death.

It was, in fact, better to take a ship with little or no resistance, otherwise pirate crews themselves faced the danger of death or serious injury in close, hand-to-hand combat. An easy capture also prevented damage to the ship being taken, and the treasures it held.

Of course, it was also easier to take a ship if the crew had no forewarning and couldn’t bolt. A common ruse was to fly the colors of a particular nation, especially the colors of the same nation as the targeted ship. When within hailing distance, the false colors were dropped and up went the black flag.

Hoisting the colors wasn’t something that could be taken on lightly, as just the possession of a flag could be enough to get a crew hanged for piracy, as noted in this paper by economics scholar (and pirate
aficionado) Peter T. Leeson:

Ships attacking under the death head's toothy grin were considered
criminal and could be prosecuted as pirates. Since pirates were
criminals anyway, for them, flying the Jolly Roger was costless. If
they were captured and found guilty, the penalty they faced was the
same whether they used the Jolly Roger in taking merchant ships or not
-- the hangman's noose...

For legitimate ships, however, things were different. To retain at
least a veneer of legitimacy, privateers and Spanish coast guard ships
could not sail under pirate colors. If they did, they could be hunted

Pirates flew the Jolly Roger for all these pragmatic reasons -- but also just because they really had nothing to lose. Pirates already defied kings, queens, governors and the seafaring crews of nearly all nations just by virtue of their profession, and lived every day under the threat of death. Perhaps it was a grim pleasure to see a jolly death’s head grinning back at them.

In contemporary popular culture, the typical skull and crossbones pirate flag is nicknamed the Jolly Roger -- but the term was actually in effect as far back as 1724.

The term ‘Jolly Roger’ or ‘Jack’ to denote a pirate flag is mentioned in A General History of the Pyrates
 (1724), by Captain Charles Johnson ; the author’s name is generally
acknowledged to be pseudonymous, and authorship usually attributed to Daniel Defoe, who wrote the now-classicadventure novel, Robinson Crusoe.

The term ‘Jolly Roger’ is possibly an English variation of the French, jolie rouge, or pretty red. English privateers (privateers were effectively something like legalized pirates, given royal or legal
sanction to attack the ships of other nations) were to fly the Red Jack, by Royal Proclamation in 1694.

Disbanded privateers might have carried on under the same flag, although a red flag flashing from the mast of a pirate ship usually took on a more sinister meaning. Red flags usually denoted that any fight would be to the death, with no quarter given or expected.

Another possible explanation for the origin of the term, ‘Jolly Roger,’ was the combination of ‘Old Roger’ (a 17th century nickname for the devil), and the fact that the skinless skulls seem to be perpetually grinning at the beholder -- thus, a grim kind of jolly smile.

It’s really anyone’s guess where the term Jolly Roger initially came from; as with most slang, it’s nearly impossible to pinpoint the exact origin of the term. In any case, though, it was already being used in
1724. A General History of the Pyrates specifically mentions the use of various designs and uses the names Jolly Roger or Jack as generic terms for pirate flags.

As noted, elements in pirate flags served as a warning to others and so the skull and crossbones motif was a common theme, signifying death. Actually, the image is even used today, on warning labels for poison or other toxic materials.

A combination of yellow and black, as used in later maritime tradition to signal infectious disease onboard, is also used in messages warning of a biohazard, as shown in the image above.

And now, here’s a gallery of pirate flags, and the pirates who reportedly flew them from their masts and ensign staffs.

Black Bart: Bartholomew ‘Black Bart’ Roberts was one of the most successful pirates alive during the Golden Age of Piracy , capturing over 470 vessels.

He treated prisoners relatively humanely and his crew was so loyal to him that when he was killed in a sea battle with English pirate hunters, they threw his body overboard rather than let his corpse be seized for a reward.

His fatalistic but chipper philosophy, given in The Pirates Own Book, by Charles Ellms , was, ‘A merry
life and a short one, shall be my motto!’

His flag in particular is mentioned in A General History of the Pyrates:

Roberts was so enraged at the attempts that had been made (to capture him) that he ordered a new Jack to be made, which they ever after hoisted, and under them the letters A.B.H. and A.M.H, signifying a Barbadian's and a Martinican's head. (Read excerpt, pg. 221)

The reason for Black Bart’s enduring ire is explained in the book Black Barty, by archaeologist Aubrey Burl :

The inhabitants of Barbados equipped two well-armed ships, the Summerset and the Philipa, to try to put an end to the pirate menace. On 26 February, they encountered the two pirate sloops (Bart’s ship, the Fortune, and French pirate Montigny la Palisse’s ship, the Sea King). The Sea King quickly fled, and after sustaining considerable damage, the Fortune broke off the engagement and was able to escape.

Roberts headed for Dominica to repair the sloop, with twenty of his crew dying of their wounds on the voyage. There were also two sloops from Martinique out searching for the pirates, and Roberts swore
vengeance against the inhabitants of Barbados and Martinique. He had a new flag made with a drawing of himself standing upon two skulls, one labeled ABH (A Barbadian's Head) and the other AMH (A Martiniquan's Head).

Edward ‘Ned’ Low : An English pirate infamous for his extreme cruelty. Born into poverty in Westminster, London, into a reputed family of thieves. Moved to Boston, Massachusetts as a young man. His wife died in childbirth in late 1719. Two years later, he became a pirate.

As recounted in <The Pirates Own Book (1837) by Charles Ellms,when Low decided to go to the devil, he didn’t do it by halves:

Of all the piratical crews belonging to the English nation, none
ever equaled Low in barbarity. Their mirth and their anger had the
same effect. They murdered a man from good humor, as well as from
anger and passion…

One day, Low, having captured Captain Graves, a Virginia man, took a
bowl of punch in his hand, and said, ‘Captain, here's half this to
you.’ The poor gentleman was too much touched with his misfortunes to
be in a humor for drinking, he therefore modestly excused himself.

Upon this Low cocked and presented a pistol in the one hand, and his
bowl in the other, saying, ‘Either take the one or the other.’

Shown above: Pirate Edward Low offers an unhappy guest on his ship a bowl or a bullet.

Low next captured a vessel called the Merry Christmas, mounted her with thirty-four guns, went on board her himself, assumed the title of admiral, and hoisted the black flag.

His next prize was a brigantine half manned with Portuguese, and half with English. The former he hanged, and the latter he thrust into their boat and dismissed, while he set fire to the vessel.

The success of Low was unequalled, as well as his cruelty...All wickedness comes to an end and Low's crew at last rose against him and he was thrown into a boat without provisions and abandoned to his fate. This was because Low murdered the quartermaster.

His flag is described in an excerpt from A General History of the

The latter end of July (1723), Low took a large ship, called the
Merry Christmas, and fitted her for a pirate, cut several ports
in her, and mounted her with 34 guns. Low goes aboard of this ship,
assumes the title of admiral, and hoists a black flag, with the figure
of death in red, at the main-topmast head, and takes another voyage to
the Western Islands, where he arrived at the beginning of

Emanuel Wynn: His flag, featuring a skull with an hourglass below to let his prey know that their time had run out, was one of the first mentioned in maritime reports or elsewhere, in histories about pirates.

One of the earliest references to this flag is made by Captain John Cranby, a pirate hunter, who reported an encounter with Wynn in 1700. This is reported in the book, The Pirate Wars, by economics history scholar and maritime researcher Peter Earle :

Emanuel Wynn  was clearly a resourceful
and tenacious pirate, but his chief claim to fame in pirate annals is
his flag , which was described by Cranby
as 'a sable ensign with crossbones, a death's head and an hourglass,'
the very first reference to this classic symbol of piracy.</i> (The

The availability of historical materials on Emanuel Wynn is minimal, so the source of information for this brief bio is the report, excerpted above, by maritime researcher Peter Earle.

Richard Worley: An 18th century English pirate whose preferred territory was the Caribbean Sea and the east coast of the American colonies (the American colonies later unified to become the United States of America).

Worley was one of the earliest pirates to fly the skull and crossbones. He and his crew agreed upon a set of articles, which included a provision on the subject of pirate hunters and possible capture -- Worley and his crew vowed to fight to the death rather than surrender.

Worley is mentioned, and his flag described, in an excerpt from A General History of the Pyrates:

Worley had by this time increased his company to about five and
twenty (25) men, had six guns mounted, and small arms as many as were
necessary for them, and seem'd to be in a good, thriving sort of a

He made a black ensign, with a white death's head in the middle of it,
and other colors suitable to it. They had all signed articles, and
bound themselves under a solemn oath, to take no quarters, but to
stand by one another to the last man, which was rashly

As the account doesn’t include mention of a set of crossbones, history buff Ed Foxe puts forward an alternate image that he thinks could be a more accurate representation of Worley’s ensign :

Shown above: An alternate representation of the flag attributed to pirate Richard Worley. The reasons for this alternate pick are given here.

You can find a gallery of pirate flags here and browse some historical notes about
which pirate flags are likely to be real, and which might be later fabrications, here.

Feel free to join us on Random Magic Tour: Pirates!  for lots of other interesting features about pirates -- pirate gear, pirate grub, and pirate queens.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Random Magic Tour: Pirates! - Bonus!

Random Magic Tour: Pirates!
May 10-30, 2011
About: Random Magic 
Tour organization: Lyrika Publicis
Triton Tavern proprietress and guest relations: vvb32
Contact the tour: @RandomMagicTour 

On the blog:
Feature: Video discussion, Random Magic and pirates
(Int’l: Greek language, English transcript)
Bonus: Free audio book, Howard Pyle’s Book of Pirates
Bonus: Game: Pirate’s Quest

Bonus: Free audio book: Howard Pyle’s Book of Pirates

As part of Random Magic Tour: Pirates!, it’d be fun to swap some great pirate yarns - or just listen to a few great tales about the sweet trade, the black flag , pirate queens or the Brethren of the Coast.

On this blog, you can listen to the audio book Howard Pyle’s Book of Pirates. A brief description taken from Pyle’s own preface to the book, can be found here:

What a life of adventure is his, to be sure! A life of constant
alertness, constant danger, constant escape! An ocean Ishmaelite, he
wanders forever aimlessly, homelessly; now unheard of for months, now
careening his boat on some lonely uninhabited shore, now appearing
suddenly to swoop down on some merchant vessel with rattle of
musketry, shouting, yells, and a hell of unbridled passions let loose
to rend and tear. What a Carlislean hero! What a setting of blood and
lust and flame! (Preface, Howard Pyle’s Book of Pirates)

If you enjoy the stories, you can download a free MP3 version of this classic book:

Listen to or download audio book (MP3 format) Howard Pyle’s Book of Pirates: Fiction, fact and fancy
concerning the buccaneers and marooners of the Spanish Main (1903)
Courtesy of LibriVox

The pirate tour is related to the book Random Magic, which has some great pirate scenes.

Shown above: Book trailer, Random Magic

About Random Magic:
Whenabsent-minded Professor Random misplaces the main character from Alice in Wonderland, young Henry Witherspoon must book-jump to fetch Alice before chaos theory kicks in and the world vanishes.

Along the way he meets Winnie Flapjack, a wit-cracking doodle witch with nothing to her name but a magic feather and a plan. Such as it is.

Henry and Winnie brave the Dark Queen, whatwolves, pirates, Strüths, and fluttersmoths, Priscilla and Charybdis, obnoxiously cheerful vampires, Baron Samedi, a nine-dimensional cat, and one perpetually
inebriated Muse to rescue Alice and save the world by tea time.

If you’d like to find some more fun pirate features, feel free to visit Random Magic Tour: Pirates!  for reviews, video features, photo galleries and more free audio books about pirates and other seafaring rebels, rogues and scoundrels.

Also - browse costumes for stylish corsairs, sing along to rowdy sea shanties, or read some interesting tidbits about the Golden Age of Piracy.

You might also have fun reading about seafaring grub, pirate slang, or famous pirate queens (Pirate Queens series), or just checking out some great pirate quotes from Random Magic.

All told, it’s a treasure trove of all things piratical. If it sounds like fun, feel free to jump aboard as we weigh anchor and hoist the mizzen. Yo-ho-ho!

More Bonus: Game: Pirate's Quest

Ahoy! Here be a bonus pirate game to play during Random Magic Tour: Pirates, if ye like to play with
pretty, shiny things.

The name of the game: Pirate’s Quest
The objective: Set off on a fantastic quest for gorgeous gems. Avoid falling objects, traps, and evil enemies, on the hunt for pirate treasure.

How to play:

* Choose your pirate character.

* Use the mouse button to move your pirate character, collecting gems
along the way and avoiding boulders or cannonballs.

* Your goal is to gather jewels and collect useful items to fight your
way through various terrains, on the way to finding a lost treasure.

Ready? Arrrrrr!

Click the image above to start the live game, or just click here:

This little pirate widget is part of Random Magic Tour: Pirates!. There are some dastardly pirates in the book, of course…

Random Magic Tour: Pirates! - Video Discussion

Random Magic Tour: Pirates!
May 10-30, 2011
About: Random Magic 
Tour organization: Lyrika Publicis
Triton Tavern proprietress and guest relations: vvb32
Contact the tour: @RandomMagicTour 

At the blog:
Feature: Video discussion, Random Magic and pirates
(Int’l: Greek language, English transcript)
Bonus: Free audio book, Howard Pyle’s Book of Pirates
Bonus: Game: Pirate’s Quest

That's our first video ever! Don't be too harsh on us XD It's me and Johnny. At a certain point, Johnny's camera decided to not work properly but you can still hear him. And of course there are subs too! Hope you enjoy it!:)
And don't forget to check out the audio book we have for you!! Come on...click here!!!

Bonus: Game: Rum + Plumber

Thanks for dropping by, hope you enjoyed your visit here! Here's another interesting tour feature for Random Magic Tour: Pirates! that you might also enjoy:

The main Rum + Plunder treasure hunt is open internationally!
Here’s a fun way to win something piratey and cool:
Browse prizes or join the hunt…

Bonus: Find even more pirate plunder, with Little Pirate Prizes, these aren't marked on the schedule and they're not part of the hunt, but they're out there for visitors to find, so have fun finding some cute pirate things: Follow the tour!

Have fun and good luck!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Lady Gaga Presents the Monster Ball..., Review

Five-time Grammy winner Lady Gaga headlines her first solo HBO concert event when Lady Gaga Presents The Monster Ball Tour: At Madison Square Garden debuts Saturday, May 7. Taped Feb. 21 and 22 at Madison Square Garden in her hometown of New York City, the special spotlights the pop sensation on her sold-out world tour, accompanied by a ten-piece band and ten backup dancers.

@Madison Square Garden

I need to clarify i'm not one of the Lady Gaga fanatics out there. I do like some her songs, but i can't say i'm big fan of how she acting or dressing and etc. Also, i've never watched her truly in a live concert and that's why i was curious and i saw the taped show.

I will write in two parts the things i liked and i didn't like.

-The girl has an amazing voice. Gaga belongs at the small number of singers that sing live. And she is really great. I believe her best songs, are the acoustic or acapella ones. The original autotune songs, are losing some of their magic since they were written for autotune music.
-Her energy is wow! She seems so full of it, so happy she is on stage that it gets through you. It makes you wanna get up and dance!

Didn't like
-The male dancers were creepy with their dancing or how they were dressed. I really tried to ignore them. It was weird.
-Sometimes she was too inappropriate with her moves or what she was saying, that make me feel uncomfortable.
-And lastly, they were parts she was talking too much or how easily she was crying, that felt fake and just for the cameras. Maybe was real, but that's how she looked for me.

Anyway, if you are into her even at least i'm sure you will enjoy one of her shows. I know, if she ever comes to Greece i will go.

The Dust Of 100 Dogs, Book Review

In the late seventeenth century, famed teenage pirate Emer Morrisey was on the cusp of escaping the pirate life with her one true love and unfathomable riches when she was slain and cursed with "the dust of one hundred dogs," dooming her to one hundred lives as a dog before returning to a human body-with her memories intact.
Now she's a contemporary American teenager and all she needs is a shovel and a ride to Jamaica.

The Dust of 100 Dogs by A.S King
Paperback, 320 pages
Published at February, 2009

Errmmm..let's just say i hate this book. It might sounds too harsh, not only i'm planning not to touch it ever again but i'm also deleting that i've read it from my mind.

But let's just point out the one good thing about it before i start explaining what i dislike it that much. So, what really was good was the main idea behind the story with the curse and the treasure, the nemesis, etc (put aside characters and how it turned out). So yeah, i will admit that it was a clever and original idea, which when you read the summary seems really intriguing. Also, really great job with the cover!

Now..why i didn't like it:
-Emer is probably the only character that i ever hated so much. She is selfish, mean, arrogant and she doesn't care about anything than herself. Even if she lived a lot and really wants to finally get her treasure back, her thoughts about her family didn't even make sense to me. How is bad and you have killing thoughts of someone, because they see you clever and trying to make you go to college and achieve something better than they did. I believe all parents are like that, right? They want the best of your options and sometimes, they can be annoying but you just don't hate them that much for that. And how you don't even care about the problems your brother had with drugs and etc. Unfortunately, 2/3 of the book lives with them and she doesn't stop complaining at all. Her old self was by far better.
-Part of the story is Emer first life where you learn about the curse and her pirate life. That's probably the most interesting parts of the book. BUT, when you see her first days, how she lived and how she acted you are under the impression she is like 15. You later get to know she is about 6 years old. Now, how a 6 year old thinks and acts like twice its age....well, it's just doesn't work out for me.
-We finally get to the end of the book, and waiting to see an epic conclusion or something cool but all you get is really fast end in about 1 page. Not only i had to keep up with her for 300 pages, but i got a not interesting endings too.
-There is also a bad guy, you see at some point and you follow his POV. That guy is really creepy and it was disturbing to read his thoughts. I mean, he was sitting at his house and he was spying on girls at the sea with his binoculars, all the time. He had also delusions and hit his dog all the time.

And last 2 things on how the book was written:
-At random points of  the book there are 1 page chapters with dog facts. I still don't see their purpose in there and it was annoying that they were in the middle of the story.
-Also, the way the chapters change POV or timeline was confusing at least. Most times, i was losing at which period i am and i had to re-read parts. And when the bad guy POV's appear, i thought i missed something and i was searching the book back.

Conclusion, stay away from it. If you still want to read it though, i'm more than in for a trade :D

The book has some really good rating at goodreads so you may want to check them out! And don't forget i trade!

Hex Hall Series, Review

Three years ago, Sophie Mercer discovered that she was a witch. It's gotten her into a few scrapes. Her non-gifted mother has been as supportive as possible, consulting Sophie's estranged father--an elusive European warlock--only when necessary. But when Sophie attracts too much human attention for a prom-night spell gone horribly wrong, it's her dad who decides her punishment: exile to Hex Hall, an isolated reform school for wayward Prodigium, a.k.a. witches, faeries, and shapeshifters.  

By the end of her first day among fellow freak-teens, Sophie has quite a scorecard: three powerful enemies who look like supermodels, a futile crush on a gorgeous warlock, a creepy tagalong ghost, and a new roommate who happens to be the most hated person and only vampire student on campus. Worse, Sophie soon learns that a mysterious predator has been attacking students, and her only friend is the number-one suspect.

As a series of blood-curdling mysteries starts to converge, Sophie prepares for the biggest threat of all: an ancient secret society determined to destroy all Prodigium, especially her.

Hex Hall (Hex Hall #1) by Rachel Hawkins
Hardcover , 323 pages 
Published March, 2010 by Hyperion Books

This book was so good, that i got mad with myself for not picking it up earlier. Even more that i got the ebook instead the physical copy. I'm totally buying the hardback version!

From the first pages, the book became instantly one of my favorites. It has magic, a boarding school, shapeshifters, dark witches, hot guys, creepy ghosts, cool school lessons, action, death,mystery, cliques! It's like a cooler hogwarts XD But the best part ever, was how the writer made the characters ordinary. Using and acting like we all do. How she used phrases or made connections with movies, like we all do in certain points of my life ( ex. when Sophie gets a personal teacher uses a quote "so you are like my Mr.Miyiagi" -Karate Kid reference). I know that me and my friends do that a lot, so it felt exactly like i have a friend next to me. It bring me closer.
I also liked how the author also, was "laughing" at her own work (ex. when Sophie learns the name of the council which is "The Council", commenting how unoriginal name is like i know i would have done).

As for the story is quite new. I can't say i made connections with other books, no matter how it had elements we've seen mane times before. It was interesting until the last page, and when i finished i got the 2nd book immediately.
As for the love story part, i liked how even there is a very small triangle (mostly at the next book though) Sophie knew what she wants. She was a girl who wasn't afraid to make mistakes, and then say sorry. She wasn't stupid, and she gave other people 2nd chances or making conclusions easily.

You should totally read the book! It's a must in YA for me. I didn't expect it to like it that much!

Sophie Mercer thought she was a witch.

That was the whole reason she was sent to Hex Hall, a reform school for delinquent Prodigium (aka witches, shapeshifters, and fairies). But that was before she discovered the family secret, and that her hot crush, Archer Cross, is an agent for The Eye, a group bent on wiping Prodigium off the face of the earth.

Turns out, Sophie’s a demon, one of only two in the world—the other being her father. What’s worse, she has powers that threaten the lives of everyone she loves. Which is precisely why Sophie decides she must go to London for the Removal, a dangerous procedure that will destroy her powers.

But once Sophie arrives she makes a shocking discovery. Her new friends? They’re demons too. Meaning someone is raising them in secret with creepy plans to use their powers, and probably not for good. Meanwhile, The Eye is set on hunting Sophie down, and they’re using Archer to do it. But it’s not like she has feelings for him anymore. Does she?

Demonglass (Hex Hall #2) by Rachel Hawkins
Hardcover, 359 pages
Published at March, 2011 by Hyperion Books

REVIEW( include spoilers):
As i said at the Hex Hall review, i got the book at the next day i finished the 1st one.

Demonglass get us away from the school, some months after everything that happened in Hex Hall. Sophie, leaves with her father for the summer while he tries to convince her to not go throw the removal for her powers. 

In this book Sophie learns more about herself and mostly sees the consequences of her actions so far and as the story goes on. She also learns to listen some more, and ask for help and not keep dangerous secrets. As a demon now, she is really afraid of her powers but her dad make her see, that to be a demon doesn't mean you are a monster too, if you learn to control what it's inside you. And i think this is one of her biggest problems. Still she is doesn't miss the chance to make cool comment about everything ^^

The story goes on with more dark magic, action and secrets from where you didn't expect it. I really missed the school atmosphere but i got a better picture of the magic world so it didn't bother me much. It also ends with a huge cliffhanger, while 4 out of 5 from the main characters are one step before death or missing (a small war just start). 

Unfortunately, i need to wait a whole year til the next book. Oh well...i will just re-read them til then XD

Read also the review of Read Me,Bookmark Me,Love Me: Hex Hall & Demonglass

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Pirates Of The Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, Movie Review

Produced by Jerry Bruckheimer and directed by Rob Marshall, “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides” captures the fun, adventure and humor that ignited the hit franchise—this time in Disney Digital 3D™. Johnny Depp returns to his iconic role of Captain Jack Sparrow in an action-packed adventure. Crossing paths with the enigmatic Angelica (Penelope Cruz), he’s not sure if it’s love—or if she’s a ruthless con artist who’s using him to find the fabled Fountain of Youth. When she forces him aboard the “Queen Anne’s Revenge,” the ship of the legendary pirate Blackbeard (Ian McShane), Jack finds himself on an unexpected adventure in which he doesn’t know whom to fear more: Blackbeard or Angelica, with whom he shares a mysterious past. The international cast includes franchise vets Geoffrey Rush as the vengeful Captain Hector Barbossa and Kevin R. McNally as Captain Jack’s longtime comrade Joshamee Gibbs, plus Sam Claflin as a stalwart missionary and Astrid Berges-Frisbey as a mysterious mermaid.

Can't explain how excited me and the gang were about the movie :p We should have known better...tsk tsk..

Let's start with the 3D part. Not deserve its money. Except 2-3 scenes, there was nothing really remarkable about the 3D. Once again, the trailers before the movie (especially Transformers 3) were by far better. So we did spend 5 euros to nothing.

Now, let's talk about the other 7 euros of the ticket which was the movie in general. Forget the old POTC movies. This one is entirely different. While the other were more action-battle related, this one was more of a big adventure with small quests in. I would love it to have some more ship related scenes, especially with Blackbeard's ship. It was still nice though. The story was more careful created and it went a little back to the first POTC.

Special effects, music...can't say much about them. They were almost perfection for me.

And as for the actors...Johnny Depp was good. Jack Sparrow is he role and it had a little more depth as a character in this one. Of course, he was doing anything stupid,weird and out of the mind thing was possible. The movie had more "wtf" moments than all the previous ones together.
Captain Barbossa! Love love love love! He is the only decent pirate in the film. Even if he works for the navy at most of the movie, he still rocks as a pirate! And for first time we saw his character and his thoughts more too!
I think the rest were new pirates. There was a sailor guy, extremely stupid which i believe took the part of the two weirdos from Barbossa's crew from the previous movies.
There was Blackbeard, which for some reason i didn't find him interesting at all. That has nothing to do with the acting though. I just didn't like him and his scenes. He was lame XD His ship was cooler than him.
Angelica didn't impress me either. I think, Penelope Cruz was the most non-convincing pirate of the company.
The priest guy was the hottie. Not much to say about him. He has the part of the love story of the movie.
The mermaids rocked! Totally loved them! One of the best part of the movie! They were beautiful and deadly ^^

Don't know if i forget someone. While i really enjoyed it, i kinda missed Bloom and Knightley. Their absence was noticeable. I recommend the movie, just keep in mind it's different than the old ones.

Oh! And for those who doesn't know. POTC have the tradition to put a small scene after the credits every time. Here is the new one, for those who didn't know or missed it.


Tenacious D: The Pick Of Destiny Movie Review

In Venice Beach, naive Midwesterner JB bonds with local slacker KG and they form the rock band Tenacious D. Setting out to become the world's greatest band is no easy feat, so they set out to steal what could be the answer to their prayers -- a magical guitar pick housed in a rock-and-roll museum some 300 miles away.


In my years and years of fighting training I passed some months under sensory depravation training. First they blindfolded me for weeks and I learned to depend on the sound and the air pressure around me, then they deprived me of hearing by making me fight with headphones on, and I chose to listen to hard rock and metal when I was fighting, and I depended on good positioning and eyesight. Finally they combined those trainings and I was fighting blind and deaf using my positioning, and reflexes and sensing the difference in air movement around me and the pounding of the enemies’ feet on the ground. But what I really loved from that training was the music. Rock is the music for people like us ;)

There was this movie once called Tenacious D: the pick of destiny and it, literally, rocks. It’s a movie released in 2006 staring Jack Black and Kyle Gass and tells the story of a talented but oppressed rock artist named JB that “sailed” to the land of fallen angels, where the sea meats the sand, Hollywood. There he found a very talented and bald guitarist named KG and they decided to start a band together, to pay their rend mainly but for the fame too. The movie has very very addictive music, if you like hard rock, the special effects are totally cool for 2006 and the acting… well it’s Jack Black, this guy rules whatever he does. The story is interesting and with lots and lots of laughter, I was never bored in the duration of this movie, like some other recent movies, and it kept me interested to see the finale, and the finale was hilarious :D
Also there is a scene after the ending titles that is funny and I discovered it by accident, the ending tittles songs where so cool that I left them playing till the scene started playing.
I totally recommend this movie to anyone who likes a good old rock and roll musical movie and to anyone who loves Jack Black.
Go watch it ASAP.
Still reading ?
Go watch it I said !
Well if you are not running to watch it by now at least leave a comment and then start running :D

Buy Tenacious D: The Pick Of Destiny @ Amazon.co.uk
Buy Tenacious D: The Pick Of Destiny Soundtrack @ Amazon.co.uk

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The Book Of Lost Souls, Review

When teen witch Ivy MacTavish changes a lizard into her date for a Halloween dance, everything turns to chaos. And when no one is powerful enough to transform him back except Ivy, it sparks the rumor: Like father, like daughter. Ivy has heard it all before - that her father, who left when she was seven &#x2013; was involved with the darkest of magic.

Making the rumors worse, someone uses an evil spell book to bring back two of history's most nefarious killers. Ivy's got a simple plan to set things right: find the real dark spell caster, steal the book, and reverse the spell. No problem! But she&#x2019;ll have to deal with something more dangerous than murderous spirits that want her and her friends dead: the school&#x2019;s resident bad boy and hotter-than-brimstone demon, Nick Marcelli. Nick&#x2019;s offering Ivy more than his help with recovering the missing book &#x2013; he&#x2019;s offering her a way to ditch her scaly reputation as a lizard-lover. Demons are about as hard to handle as black magic, and as Ivy soon discovers, it&#x2019;s going to take more than a lot of luck and a little charm if she wants to survive long enough to clear her status as a dark witch, get a warm-blooded boyfriend, and have her former date back to eating meal worms before the week&#x2019;s end.

The Book of Lost Souls by Michelle Muto 
ebook, 245 pages
Published March 7th, 2011

There are times i'm just getting really mad with the publishers. There are some books out there, that really deserved to get published and be famous instead of some others that seriously need to "disappear"(all books are good, i just don't agree with the popularity that some of them have). Book of Lost Souls, is one of those books. I can't even describe how much i enjoyed it. It was one of those books, that make you wanna read them again and again because they are fun,light and make you feel nice later. Unfortunately, since is an e-book i highly doubt i read it again since i find it a bit tiring to read at the reader.

The author gets you in from the very first chapter, with a really amusing "accident" and the first glimpse of some really great characters. It's easy reading, with the appropriate descriptions, action and between scenes and some real time responses from the characters. The story might be something extremely new (white witch finds dangerous book, tries to save people, a love triangle,etc) but it's enjoyable. You could see right throw the story but still i didn't want it to end.

The characters are some of my fav ones ever. Firstly, i really like the whole demon-vampire-werewolf-witch are friends and not mortal enemies. They are all one and live together (hidden from the mere humans though). Our main heroine, Ivy is a really simple girl. Likes to have fun, doing stupid things, falling in love as a teenager (not "i can't live without you my eternal love"stuff) but when its needed she can take some difficult decisions. Nick is a bad boy in the way "i've done some mistakes but i can be better" and he tries really hard to prove what he really is and that we can't act towards people according to some ideas others or actions have. And lastly, there is the clique of Ivy's friend. Each of them, different but all connected by their friendship, with no backstabbing and etc.

The book is available at Amazon for Kindle, Smashwords and B&N. So if you can, then buy it. You will like it :D

Thanks Michelle Muto for providing a digital copy.
Part of the BLB E-book Tours.

What's New Wednesday #18

What's New Wednesday is hosted by us from now on! (Previously hosted by My Love Affair With Books ). We keep the idea Misha had at the start :) It's a round up for any interesting news we found the week that passed. Anyone who wants to participate, feel free and leave your links at the comments to check it out too. (if many people take part i will put up a linky).

In front of every little paragraph will be a tag ( Music,Movie, Book,etc) so in case you are not interested in something you can just skip it. At the end, are our week's finds.

[Books] New covers (credit Murphy's Library):

[Blog] Ever wondered how to add your own signature at your posts? Find out how with Small's Review tutorial: How To Add Signature at Your Posts.

[Books/Movies] More pics of Katniss:

[Books/Movies] Harry Potter Part 2, last minutes will get separated into new movie! (you should really watch the video) Watch the video with the trailer here. 

[Books/Movies] And some more Harry Potter news...3 new posters :) Ron and Hermione looks cool.

[Movie/Random] Probably the most epic "Got Milk" poster ever released XD

[TV Series] Fans of True Blood more thingies for you! Firstly, a new 1min trailer with more new footage of Sn. 4 and a new poster.

[TV Series] For everyone who want to keep track of dates for the Summer 2011 and Fall 2011-12 TV Series as well as trailers and premiere days, i've made a post specific for those!

[Music] Lady Gaga's new album is out.

New in TBR (click for summaries):


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