Archive for April, 2012
Title: War Horse
Media Type: Feature Film
Director: Steven Spielberg
Studio: DreamWorks Studios
Genre: Historical Fiction, War Stories
Summary: [from IMDB] Young Albert enlists to serve in World War I after his beloved horse is sold to the cavalry. Albert’s hopeful journey takes him out of England and across Europe as the war rages on.
My Review: War Horse is not my typical choice for a movie. It is very serious, as it has to be for dealing with a war. And it is very sad. Plan for a box of tissues nearby or maybe three.
The thing I really liked about this film is how it presented the war, not as us against them, but as a bunch of men all doing the exact same thing at the same time, who just happened to be on opposite sides. While what the summary says is true, the storyline really follows the horse through the lines of battle. He travels from the English, to the Germans, to the French and back again a few times, allowing the audience to see all sides of the battle. Because of that, I would rank this at the very top of the war films. Whether I like war films in general or not, I personally think this one is THE ONE to have everyone see. I wouldn’t be surprised if it replaced All Quiet on the Western Front or… some of the others (not remembering titles right now) in school curriculums.
Bottom line: If you like War or Historical films this one is a definite must-see ASAP. Even if you don’t, you should probably add it to your watch list anyway – there’s a reason it was nominated for all those awards!
Clock Rewinders on a Book Binge is where Tara @ 25 Hour Books and Amanda @ On a Book Bender shamelessly plug each other, share the fantastic posts, giveaways, or whatever else they’ve found and loved by other awesome bloggers (or authors!) during the week, and talk about the books they plan on reading in the coming week. [Description and banner borrowed from On a Book Bender]
The Corner Newsstand
(This week on Creativity’s Corner)
I reviewed A Million Suns by Beth Revis
I talked about some decisions that seemed really good at the time that make my life suck now.
Behind the Desk
(Behind the scenes and non-post related events)
The April Page Count Contest over at Reading Angel is wrapping up, and I didn’t even come CLOSE to winning. I had lots of fun and got lots of reading done though, and that’s what counts, right?
I’m considering signing up for Operation: TBR Reduction over at Once Upon a Chapter, but I need to figure out a way to tweak it so that it works for me, since I so rarely actually BUY the books. The TBR that’s out of control for me is the list! It’s nearing the 300 mark and I add several to it each day!
I began (serious) planning for a major event coming up in July on the blog. Can’t say anything specific yet, but it’s gonna be so much fun!!! On the downside, I also received my GRE prep materials this week – much less fun planning and studying for those, let me tell you!
Around the Corner
(Blog posts I found awesome this week)
Danny talked about why we like paranormal stories.
The Book Rat and a few of her friends are hosting the Fairy Tale Fortnight – it’s almost over, but all the posts are really awesome.
With all the negativity going around this week it was nice to see a post called Book Bloggers that Rock! [on The Book Cellar]
(Books I’ve read in the past week and books I plan to read next)
Read this week:
This week I finished Hourglass by Myra McEntire, and I’m in the middle of Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson and Eragon by Christopher Paolini. I’ve also been in the middle of The Map of Time by Felix J. Palma for about three weeks now.
Next I should be picking up Starters by Lissa Price and then, I hope Eldest by Christopher Paolini and Grave Mercy by Robin Lafevers.
And that’s my weekly round-up! Let me know what you think of the new meme, and let me know if you think I’ve missed out on an awesome post you saw around the blogosphere this week!
Hi everyone – just a quick update. I know my posts are becoming more sporadic once again, and I am really sorry about that. I feel like I owe you an explanation.
Recently I received word that while I was accepted to a graduate program at a decent school, I was not accepted to the program I wanted. This is very frustrating and embarrassing for me, but it is also entirely my fault. I decided what I wanted to do fairly late in the year and I thought if I could get applications in quickly enough there would be some school that would accept me for what I wanted to do. I was desperate to move on with my life and I wanted to do it no matter the cost. Now I’m finding that’s not true, and the reward for my slapdash applications is having to do them over again.
As such, over the next few months I will be studying very hard to take various placement tests and prove that I really am a good student. It may take me some time to get used to the new hectic schedule, so please bear with me until I get it all sorted out.
In the meantime, I love you ALL! Thank you for all your support, and I hope you will continue to stick around – I have some very big things in the works coming soon.
Title: A Million Suns (Across the Universe #2)
Author: Beth Revis
Summary: [from GoodReads] Godspeed was once fueled by lies. Now it is ruled by chaos. It’s been three months. In that time, Amy has learned to hide who she is. Elder is trying to be the leader he’s always wanted to be. But as the ship gets more and more out of control, only one thing is certain: They have to get off the ship.
My Review: I have to be honest – I didn’t remember much of anything from Across the Universe when I started AMS. I read so much and so quickly that details tend to get lost, especially when I have to wait a long time. But I can happily say that if you’re like me and don’t retain plot that well over several months, you can still pick this book up and not be too lost. Revis does a really great job at gently reminding you of all the little (or not so little) tidbits you’d forgotten. By the end of AMS I felt like I could have reliably described the plot of AtU to a non-reader, and do a better job than “there’s these two people on a space ship…”
Another thing I really enjoyed about AMS was all the plot twists. This is Nancy Drew or Hardy Boys all grown up, where the bad guys aren’t ever who we think they are, and the wrong thing looks an awful lot like the right thing in bad lighting. Oh and there’s the added bonus of “HOLY CRAP we’re in space.” Plus, and this was my favorite part, when the major twist was finally revealed I found myself rereading 2 or 3 times to make sure I’d read it right. I did NOT see it coming in the slightest!
All in all this was a great read, and I can’t wait to find out what happens in the end!
Title: The Immortal Rules (Blood of Eden #1)
Author: Julie Kagawa
Summary: [from NetGalley]
MY VAMPIRE CREATOR TOLD ME THIS:
“Sometime in your life, Allison Sekemoto, you will kill a human being. The question is not if it will happen, but when. Do you understand?”
I didn’t then, not really.
I DO NOW.
Allison Sekemoto survives in the Fringe, the outermost circle of a vampire city. By day, she and her crew scavenge for food. By night, any one of them could be eaten.
Some days, all that drives Allie is her hatred of them. The vampires who keep humans as blood cattle. Until the night Allie herself is attacked—and given the ultimate choice. Die…or become one of the monsters.
Faced with her own mortality, Allie becomes what she despises most. To survive, she must learn the rules of being immortal, including the most important: go long enough without human blood, and you will go mad.
Then Allie is forced to flee into the unknown, outside her city walls. There she joins a ragged band of humans who are seeking a legend—a possible cure to the disease that killed off most of humankind and created the rabids, the mindless creatures who threaten humans and vampires alike.
But it isn’t easy to pass for human. Especially not around Zeke, who might see past the monster inside her. And Allie soon must decide what—and who—is worth dying for.
My Review: I kind of fell out of using NetGalley for a while, but when I heard they’d put this one up, I went racing back. I’m not much one for vampire stories in general – I worry they’ll feel a bit overdone – but this one sounded different, and I loved the Iron Fey series. Why not try it?
I was definitely right about this one being different. This book is so dark and bleak, and that’s what make it my favorite vampire book that I’ve read in several years. The darkness of the landscape reflects the darkness I like to expect from a vampire piece. Say what you want about them, but vampires are killers, and when they’re being portrayed in a light romantic way I have a hard time believing it.
The thing that really surprised me about the book though is the nod toward zombie lit as well. The rabids are a clear analogue to zombie flicks, with a well reasoned and thoughtful explanation. Generally I’m not a huge fan of zombies, but I can make an exception when they have a clear reason for existing, as they do here. That said, there are a few scenes that get extremely gory – I found myself turning pages fairly quickly to get past the worst of it several times.
To be fair, there were a few places I felt like the narrative was a little slow, and I found myself taking much longer over a book of this length than I can usually expect to. Even so, I found this a surprising and fun read and I am so excited to find out what happens next.
Disclaimer: I was provided a copy of the book through NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.
Title: The Name of the Wind (Kingkiller Chronicles #1)
Author: Patrick Rothfuss
Summary: [from GoodReads] Told in Kvothe’s own voice, this is the tale of the magically gifted young man who grows to be the most notorious wizard his world has ever seen.The intimate narrative of his childhood in a troupe of traveling players, his years spent as a near-feral orphan in a crime-ridden city, his daringly brazen yet successful bid to enter a legendary school of magic, and his life as a fugitive after the murder of a king form a gripping coming-of-age story unrivaled in recent literature.
My Review: I can never seem to find the right things to say about the books I love most. I mean, I could tell you that the writing style was so good that it sucks you in and won’t let you go, but that doesn’t give you any idea of the shaking nerve-wracking feeling I got when Kvothe was getting ready to audition for his Talent pipes that so closely matched what I’ve felt when I’ve gotten ready for auditions. I could tell you that I loved the characters, but that doesn’t let you know the pain I felt when one of them was hurting. So, I will try to give you an idea of how much I loved this book, but I can guarantee you I will fall short.
The first thing I loved about this book is the story-within-a-story set up. The first 50 pages or so introduce us to a quiet old soul with a young face named Kote and his protegé Bast. Everything seems to be going fine and we begin to wonder how on earth we could have an interesting story about such a boring innkeeper as protagonist – and then everything gets turned on its head. But before we can get our answers, the Chronicler shows up and then we get into the real, or rather back, story. I’m still not sure what everything means in the “present day” part of the book, but I sincerely hope that sometime in the third book we get to see Kote turn back into Kvothe and save the day. Every time he took a short pause to tell us about the present I was desperate for more, and hated continuing back into the past without answers.
But then the past would take over and I would forget about everything “present day.” I feel like I lived through Kvothe’s story instead of reading it. As I mentioned before, the scene that stuck with me the best is while Kvothe is waiting to perform for his talent pipes. My mom kept interrupting me just as I was getting to where he was going to perform, and that kicked me out of the story enough to realize that I was having the exact same symptoms of nerves that *I* get before I perform. It was so well written that it felt real – I put myself in Kvothe place and had a physical reaction to what he was experiencing.
My biggest caveat for anyone considering picking this book up is a need for patience. I love high fantasy and I even have trouble sometimes with them if I’m not in the right mood. This book, like most in the genre, is not meant to be easy to read. We’re not supposed to be able to figure it out quickly, and we’re not meant to race through these tales in a day. To someone who is not used to that kind of book, it can be hard to continue when the story gets a little slow. But, as some wise man once said, “Patience, grasshopper. Good things come to those who can wait.” Or something like that.
Today I’m introducing a new format for mini-reviews. Instead of a weekly feature I’m going to collect mini-reviews in groups of 5, and publishing them when I have enough that are similar. This week I’m featuring 5 fantasy novels I’ve read in the past few weeks. All links will take you to GoodReads where you can find more info on each of the books.
Witch and Wizard by James Patterson – Definitely not what I expected, but it was a good surprise. The combination of dystopian and fantasy was an interesting twist I hadn’t seen yet, and I can’t wait till I can get around to reading the rest.
Legacy by Cayla Kluver – I was also kind of surprised by this one – not too many YA high(ish) fantasies out there. It reminded me a little of Wither, just in a fantasy setting. And Lord Narian! *fans face* A few minor stylistic annoyances but a good enough read to ignore them.
Touch of Power by Maria V. Snyder – This is the third book I’ve read by her that I absolutely loved! I think it’s time to put her on auto-read! Great interplay between characters, as usual, and I loved the moral dilemmas presented. Can’t wait for book 2!
Clarity by Kim Harrington – Kind of the odd one out, as this one is written more as a paranormal, but it kind of fits. I liked the psychic spin on the murder mystery, and the plot was good enough that I didn’t know who did it miles ahead of the big reveal. Definitely worth a read!
Supernaturally by Kierstin White – Great book, though the ending was a little anti-climactic – I wanted to keep going! Although I knew exactly who was behind everything, I enjoyed the ride to get there, and I’m glad Endlessly is coming out soon so I can find out what happens next.
For this week it’s top ten books to read in a day. I’m a fast reader, so this actually happens fairly often – any time the page count goes under 300 or so, I can easily be expected to finish in a day if the plot is good. That said, it is possible (as in I’ve actually done it) for me to finish close to 500 pgs in a day! Here are some of the ones that did it for me (and maybe could do it for you!) [links go to my reviews, or a GoodReads page where you can find more information on the books listed]
1. Divergent by Veronica Roth – 500+ pages and I couldn’t put it down. I definitely read instead of sleeping that night!
2. Cinderby Marissa Meyer – Well, ok, a cheat since I had like a BILLION things to do that day so I didn’t technically finish it in a day. But I would have!
3. Memento Nora by Angie Smibert – It helped that this was a fairly short book with a very easily readable style, but I felt just as hungover as if I’d read other longer books.
4. Anna and the French Kiss by Stephenie Perkins – Both this one and her second were one-day reads for me. The second I even managed to read in a single day DURING NaNoWriMo – I hated myself the next day for all the catch-up I had to play, but was so happy all the same!
5. The Fault in our Stars by John Green – Honestly, I don’t know how anybody could stop reading this one once they’d started!
6. Nevermore by Kelly Creagh – One-day read, easily, even though it’s several inches thick! Of course, I may have been fighting a cold at the time… but that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t have done it in a day anyway!
7. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins – The later books didn’t hook me so much, but book 1 is good enough that it was a one-day read TWICE! I recently reread it in anticipation of the movie, and planned to spread it out over the whole week. Yeah. SO didn’t happen!
8. Die for Me by Amy Plum – I was having a really downer day and I went and picked this book up because I just felt like everything was going wrong and I couldn’t stand to think about it anymore. Not only did this book fix the problem, but I was up half the night reading because I couldn’t bring myself to put it down!
9. Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles – This one surprised me, actually. Not my usual one-day read, but a good one nonetheless.
10. Wicked Lovely by Marissa Marr – I love fairies and dark urban fantasy – I knew I’d met my match!
And since I’ve been featuring a lot of old books recently, how about a half list of books that I hope I’ll read in a day?
1. Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson
2. Grave Mercy by Robin LeFevers
3. Girl in the Clockwork Collar by Kady Cross
4. The Selection by Kiera Cass
5. Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi
I feel like I’m weeks behind on this one – seems like EVERYBODY went to see it asap and I’m the lazy (aka working) one who couldn’t go till now. *le sigh* That’s what it’s like when it’s Easter (or Valentine’s, or any other major holiday really) in a chocolate shop, I’m afraid.
Anyway, since I’d have trouble forming a coherent review I’m going to divide this up into likes and dislikes. And since there are lots, I think I’ll just stick to the major ones.
Liked: They did a really good job cinematically at drawing you into the story. When the Muttated dogs jumped out at them, I hit the ceiling, even though I knew it was coming. Jumping is pretty normal for me though. Crying sure as heck isn’t. I can count on one hand the times I’ve cried in a movie (1. Snape’s Death, 1.5 the end of ROTK (I didn’t actually cry but sure felt like I was gonna). That’s it.) But twice in this film alone, I was on the verge of tears, and while I wasn’t sniffling like the rest of the theater at Rue’s death, I certainly had a few tears leak out of my eyes.
Disliked: There is absolutely no mention of district 13, except in the video about the war, and that’s going to make it very difficult for them to introduce it later.
Liked: I may be a soundtrack junkie, but I love the places where they left it completely silent. We are so used to having the music as background in film that silence sometimes speaks more, and I think they knew that. That said, I am SO buying the soundtrack next time I deserve a treat.
Disliked: At this point, I don’t see the need to change District 11 sending Katniss bread for helping Rue to “DISTRICT 11 GOES NUTS”. They may explain this later, and I think I remember them having a riot in one of the later books, so that may be the inspiration, but at this point, I don’t understand it. I think the silent acknowledgement of a friendship that crossed districts is much more powerful. (Then again, to put this in, they would have had to show the scene where Katniss and Peeta were having lunch and he explained the breads, and they seemed quite eager to cut the training part short)
Liked: I actually really liked some of the big changes they made. I liked the representation of the Capitol and President Snow’s role, even though it was different than the book. The bright colors and trippy make-up mostly made me think of Lady Gaga, but that’s the way I read it in the book anyway. And President Snow is a great character for Donald Sutherland, I’m very excited to see him reprise the role in later movies. And, while some people hated it, I loved the change to the Mockingjay pin. I think they probably just did it because it’s easier to explain this way, but it also gives the pin more meaning than if it came from yet another minor character that we would barely be introduced to in the film.
Disliked: Unfortunately film loses a lot of interiority by nature. I understand this. But I think some of the biggest conflicts in the books are the ones Katniss has with herself. We get, a little, in the film that she is kissing Peeta because she knows it makes a good show, but she is such a good actress (because she has to be) that the audience is taken in by it, especially if they haven’t read the book. In the book, it is very clear that Katniss doesn’t really feel much of anything but friendship toward Peeta, but that she is aware of what it has to look like. So basically, I’m complaining because film just CAN’T do what a book can. Aaaaaaand that’s why I force myself to separate books from movies – I’d judge far too much on something that I know a film can’t do anyway.
And just to end on a happy note, Liked: I think they picked the right actors. I know that’s such a little thing, but all of the tributes seemed to really BE their character. No-one shied away from the blood and gore of what they were pretending and the ones that were supposed to delight in it really did.
Overall, I think this was an extremely well done representation of the book. Filmmakers have really learned, mostly from the Harry Potter franchise, but also LOTR, just exactly how much their audiences will allow them to play with our favorite books. I think they pretty much got it right on this time. There were, of course, things I liked and didn’t like, but I think overall, they probably did the best job I have ever seen at pleasing the most amount of people and still staying true to the original intent of the book.
What did you think of the film?
(P.S. Before I saw the movie, I was avoiding reviews like the plague because I didn’t want to be influenced by other people’s thoughts on what changed. So, if you posted a review before last Wednesday, I’d love if you left a link to it in the comments so I could go back and catch all the ones I missed! Thanks!)
We made it! I feel like I’ve accomplished so much! And at the same time, I already have a long list of things I want to do next time – mostly big things that I just didn’t get to, or added later so didn’t have time.
So, the official final update on my to-do list:
- Make a new favicon and grab button DONE! Anyone who still has my old button should check towards the bottom of the sidebar for my new one and replace it please?
- Update my Review linky’s – I’ve been really lax about this recently. DONE! I also added several themed pages for one of the mini-challenges. Just go to the drop down menu under “Reviews” and take your pick.
- Make sure all my reviews are in GoodReads. DONE! (For now. I’m sure this will end up on my fall list as well – wish there was a way to auto-post reviews to GoodReads cause I ALWAYS forget!)
- Research putting a drop down list in the nav-bar (is that what it’s really called? Or am I making that up?) I did it! With some minimal punting and major heart attack moments lol. I found the tutorial here if anyone else has this on their list.
- Join at least one Blog Directory. DONE! I signed up for 2 and am waiting for an email verifiation on a third.
- Link the blog to my bookish pinboard on Pinterest. DONE! Anyone who has Pinterest feel free to follow me. Also, RESOLUTION: Pin more book stuff!
- Catch up on mini-reviews – I’m never going to be able to review everything I’ve read, but 1-2 sentences is easy enough! DONE! I rethought how I wanted to do mini-reviews and wrote drafts of several posts for this – the first one is scheduled to come out this Thursday!
- Turn my “Blogs I follow” widget into a blog roll. Edit: Instead of a blog roll, I put them into a favorite reviewers tab under “Links.” Have a button or link you’d like me to add? Let me know in the comments!
- Find and follow people on GoodReads. Not done. I may get a chance to go hunting tonight, but right now, I SO need a mental holiday.
- Set up RSS for my collab blog? Not done. But I changed my mind – the blog is so small it really doesn’t need RSS, so I’m going to put it on my September list, hoping by then we’ll need it.
- Decide if it’s worth signing up for a Tumblr account (and if so, DO IT!) DONE! And the decision was “not at this time.” I’ll re-evaluate in the fall.
- Join Klout? Not done. Didn’t get time to research this properly.
- Participate in at least one mini-challenge. DONE! In fact, I’ve participated in 2 already – one was to clean up the sidebars, which I wanted to do anyway, and for the other I set up direct posting to twitter for all of my blog posts.
- Clean up widgets in my sidebars. DONE! I’d say tossing a whole sidebar counts, wouldn’t you?
- Write up some future TTT posts and schedule. DONE! OK, so some turned into ONE, but it’s still better than what I had before right?
- Draft some reviews and some floater posts. DONE! I’ve got 2 reviews scheduled and 2 more in draft stages for days when I have nothing else to post.
14 out of 16! I can hardly believe it myself! I even added the last two after the fact! Really, though, I feel like I’ve accomplished so much. I was a little worried about joining in, just because I worry about EVERYTHING. I’m so glad I did it though, because I got a lot done, and met a ton of new friends in the process. Please, everyone, keep in touch! And I’ll see you next time around =)