31 July 2013

July Movies

Django Unchained- disturbing.  good, but disturbing.  I'm usually ok with Tarantino violence but something was just too much this time.  I think i would have liked it a little better if there was more of his training and the movie had been split in two like Kill Bill.  still, a 6.

Much Ado About Nothing: Shakespeare, Whedon-style!  I liked it.  a lot. He threw in a new scene where Benedick and Beatrice hooked up pre-war, to explain their rancor.  Beatrice seems a little harpyish because of it; she becomes the scorned woman, which I didn't like so much.  It also makes the accusations against Hero a little weird: is it, or is it not, ok for women to have sex in this world?  Anyway, it did succeed in making me think, for a moment, that maybe they were going to change it to a tragedy.  Benedict, Beatrice, Leonato, and Don Pedro are so fabulous and really sell the anger/revenge aspects.  a 6.  

Oz the Great and Powerful: bleh.  absolutely the worst movie i've watched this year.  James Franco just plays James Franco.  The women, while great actresses, are given nothing to work with.  one of the sidekicks, the female China Doll, DOESN'T EVEN GET A FUCKING NAME!!!  The only reason this isn't a 1 or 2 is because it is very pretty.  a 3.

Premium Rush- Bike messengers vs corrupt cop!  silly but really fun, though I was tipsy while watching and B and I kept pausing to discuss life, living in NYC, and everything.  a 5.

Pacific Rim-really goofy.  Fun, but goofy.  insanely unrealistic, sci-fi physics, relatively predictable plot, but i still kinda enjoyed myself.  It is giant robots versus giant aliens.  I think it's a sequel to Independence Day really, those head aliens looked a lot like the ones from that movie. a 5.

Legend- this was a rewatch for B and I but neither of us had seen in in like 20-some years.  and that phrase just made me feel really fucking old!  Anyway, it is a fairy tale sorta thing: princess causes a unicorn to be captured by the devil, who, by killing the unicorn, will rule the world somehow?  Farmboy and a group of fairies, dwarves and a weird elf boy save the day.  Tim Curry plays a very ripped devil.  a 5. 

Fright Night- the new version with Colin Ferrell and David Tennant.  My brothers and I loved the original when we were kids.  This movie was fun.  David Tennant does a fabulous Russell Brand impression.  the 3D was cool and the credits have an amazing version of "99 Problems" playing over them.  a 5.

 Jack the Giant Slayer- eh, it was ok.  another 3D movie B got for his bday.  After a movie like Brave comes out where the princess really does things, you kinda expect other movies to run with that premise, to make their girls proactive.  Other than running away, princess doesn't do much.  Ewan McGregor seems to be enjoying himself though.  a 4. 

24 July 2013

Graphic novels stack

 So here are a few graphic novels I've read recently.

Runaways Volume 1: Pride and Joy by Brian K. Vaughn and Adrian Alphona- unfortunately, my library does not have the second volume.  oh, they've got one labeled "volume 2" in the catelog but that is actually one from the second series.  so, after tearing through, and quite enjoying, this book, i picked up that one and read a massive spoiler on the 4th page. *grumpy*  Anyway, this book is about teens whose parents are evil supervillians, specifically what happens when the kids find out.  It kinda felt like daydreamy storyline I came up with as a teen.  It was interesting and fun. It is in the Marvel world so the characters refer to superheroes like the Avengers so it felt a little meta.  I'll pick up the next one if i can find it at McKay's.  a 5.  

Star Trek: The Next Generation/Doctor Who: Assimilation2 Volume 1 written by Scott & David Tipton with Tony Lee ; art by J. K. Woodward- The TNG crew team up with 11 and the Ponds to fight the Borg/Cybermen tag team! The arrival of the Doctor on the Enterprise is fab; they show up in the holodeck during a simulation so TNG crew thinks the others are part of the simulation and Tardis crew think the others are people out of time in San Francisco.  Fun but only part of the story.  a 5. 

American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang- a book for class that was really really great.  It is 3 stories: an American teenager, a Chinese legend, and a young American boy in grade and middle school.  All three are wonderful.  I got to hear the author when he talked at UT in the spring and he seems like a great guy.  this book gets a 7.

Saga: Volume 2 by Brian K. Vaughn and Fiona Staples.  very good!  I looooooved Marco's dad.  And his mom was the one trying to kick ass and take names.  I really hope The Will ends up joining forces with Marco and Alana.  In this volume, we learn about how they fell in love, more about the universe they inhabit, meet a really gross giant, and get even further creeped out by those TV head people.  Bloody, violent, and also really loving.  Honestly, between this book and Hawkeye i may just find my way back to a comic book store! a 6.

22 July 2013

A stack of quickie reviews!

So i've been collecting titles, jotting down thoughts on books for future posts.  They are getting to be a bit long now so I am doing a couple group posts to clear out the drafts.  Here we go!

The Visconti House by Elsbeth Edgar- a middle grade book I read because someone recommended it in my children's lit class.  Laura lives in a creepy old mansion, The Visconti House, in Australia, where her parents have just made her move to.  They are artists and have fun artist friends but of course Laura just wants to be normal.  Why is it that kids in books are like this?  Anyway, she's an outsider because she's new and when Leon, an new boy, shows up, rather than befriend him Laura shuns him too.  They slowly become friends as they unravel the secrets of the Visconti House: who built it and why? A book that's not great, nor bad, but you might get annoyed at Laura.  She's completely unable to draw the parallel that her parents cool artist friends, that she really loves and admires, would not fit in at her school and that she can be like them or be "normal" but not both.  Leon is great though.  reminded me a bit of Mark Petrie from Salem's Lot.  gotta reread that one!  this one is a 5.

Return of the Thin Man by Dashell Hammett- These were weird.  When The Thin Man became a hit movie, the studio hired Hammett to write the two sequels, which are published in this book for the first time.  He apparently did it for the money but wasn't too thrilled to do so.  The two stories published here are less novellas and more like story treatments.  They aren't full screenplays, they aren't in that format, but everything is in present tense and there are occasional asides on how staging should go or alternatives if bits won't work.  As stories they were fine but I feel like I would have rather watched the movies.  There is also a lot about Hammett himself, his relationship with the movies and how those movies were received.  interesting but not what i expected.  a 5.

Mastermind: How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes by Maria Konnikova- Non-fiction! I actually read this one months ago, like in February.  I wanted to like it but that subtitle is a bit misleading. There's a lot of neuroscience and some of the the process by which Holmes does what he does but not much "how to" which is what i thought it was.  Interesting but not fab.  a 4. 

Feed by M.T. Anderson-Scary, shocking, depressing and good!  Read for my YA lit class.  I forced it on B just to have someone to talk about it to face to face.  My professor says, in general, teens love fantasy and hate sci-fi.  As someone who's always loved both, I certainly don't get that!  Perhaps kids automatically prefer fantasy over science fiction because they have more experience with it?  That is, many young children’s stories are fantasy.  All those fairy tales, talking animal, and magic item stories give kids a familiarity with the settings, tropes and rules of fantasy.  Kids aren't familiar with all the tropes of sci-fi so maybe that's why they don't like it? Are there any Science fiction fairy tales?  anyway, a 6. 

The City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau- I was a really strong reader early.  My parents also let me read anything.  As a consequence, I think I overestimate kids reading ability and their ability to handle what they read.  I say all this because I read this book for my YA lit class and I could have easily read it in 3rd grade.  It is a fine little story but not a favorite. Ember is a city surrounded by darkness and all light comes from lamps.  The lights are starting to flicker and no one knows why.  It is up to two kids, Lina and Doon, to save the city.  a 5 from me.

The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness- Saved my best for last! an amazing book I chose to read for class.  I'll post my booktalk summary:
Todd Hewitt is the last boy in Prentisstown.  There are no women, no girls, and no children because all the females died just a few months after Todd was born.  There was a war with the Spackles, who released a virus which killed the females and made the males hear all the thoughts of the other men and all the animals around them.  They call this Noise.  Todd thinks he knows how the world is until he meets a girl in the swamp.  She has no Noise.  Her name is Viola and she crashed in her spaceship with her parents, who died in the crash, the first of a new wave of settlers to New World. Finding Viola sets off a journey where Todd must escape with her from Prentisstown to find Haven, the original settlement.  But the evil men of Prentisstown will not let Todd go without a fight and they will follow the pair all the way to Haven if they have to.  As Todd runs, he begins to understand that everything he thinks he knows is wrong.
It is an adventure book with plenty of action and suspense.  It is also very dark, like in a "shit just keeps getting worse and worse" way.  I immediately put the 2nd book on my hold list at the library. I give it a 7!

I'll do a graphic novel catchup soon!

11 July 2013

The Ocean at the End of the Lane and Neil Gaiman!

Wow wow wow!

B and I met Neil Gaiman last night!  
The line to get in

B being patient in the line to get in

It was really great.  We didn't get there until about 5:30 so we had to sit up in the balcony. 

 This balcony

The man himself. Yeah, I happened to be in "shiny bald guy" section

It was crazy warm/humid.  We had a thunderstorm during the event so he read from the portion in the book where the boy is running away from home during a thunderstorm.  There were definitely a few well-timed crashes of thunder that made me have goosebumps.  He did some Q & A which was pretty funny.  Someone actually asked if he and his wife were planning to have any kids.  His answer came down to "none of your business" which, having fielded that question myself from close family to practical strangers, made me want to cheer.  He also brought out Bela Fleck, who accompanied on banjo as he read a bit from Fortunately, The Milk
B was so incredibly patient.  I definitely did not prepare him properly for the amount of people and the wait we'd have.  We were, in fact, quite lucky.  Rather than just calling out sections in order or taking the earliest people first, they randomly pulled sections/rows. So like section 34, row A, section 5, row P, etc.  They called our row at about 9 pm and we were out about 9:45.  

 B took the pics, this was the best one of Neil Gaiman

Me saying "thank you" 11 times in 20 seconds and also apologizing for the humidity while Neil Gaiman signs one of my Sandman graphic novels.  

 Neil Himself was very nice.  It was really hot and he had to be tired but he was just  chugging along.  He even apologized to the woman in front of us about being a stickler about no flash photography; he said if he looks up while the flash goes off then he can't sign anything for five minutes because he can't see.  Who does that?  He was really great. 

The book, by the way, is really good.  I put "fantasy" as a tag but it is almost sci-fi. It is hard to describe and other people have done a better job than I would describing it. I'll just say it is dreamy and emotional and heavy.  Read it!

03 July 2013


I've made my way through three relistens of books.  I've listened to these books over the last few months and am just now getting around to posting.  

The Mauritius Command by Patrick O'Brian- relisten, still great. Aubrey and Maturin are so great to read about. a 6.

I am Half Sick of Shadows by Alan Bradley- 2nd time reading, first time listening.  This is the Flavia Christmas book  I think I picked it up because I could not find anything to listen to.  still fun.  a 6.

The Two Towers by J.R.R. Tolkien- have read and listened to this one several times.  I always forget how much more the book covers than the movie.  a 7.

02 July 2013

Boy books!

I finished Slam by Nick Hornby, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie and Monster by Walter Dean Myers. All are for my YA Lit class, Slam by my choice, the other two are assigned.  

so, what do i think about boy-based modern realism?  I think it's not so much for me.  And it shouldn't be. I loved Part-time Indian; it really touched me, was so good and so sad. I didn't like Monster; it was too ambiguous and I didn't like the movie screenplay structure.  Slam was in-between; the writing was great and I loved Sam but not much actually happens?  But I am practically the opposite of these novels target audience so it isn't surprising I didn't connect with them. I think a 14 year old boy would easily enjoy any of these books.  In fact, I have a nephew who's 13 tomorrow and I might pass Slam and Part-Time Indian on to him.  I didn't buy Monster so can't send it along. 

My ratings:
Monster: 5
Part-Time Indian: 7

01 July 2013

3 Doctor Who Audio thingys

So I listened to 3 Doctor Who audio... books? stories? adventures? Each was less than 3 hours on audio so that's not a book but I am not sure what the proper term is.  I didn't intend to listen to 3. See, what happened was I downloaded Pest Control from the library.  And David Tennant is just hypnotic. He narrates in his actual Scottish accent but then does the Doctor's voice for those bits.  He's got a whole bunch of accents in his pocket (his American sounds really angrgy!) and mimics his costars really well too.  So after I listened to one I went on audible and downloaded two more.  *sigh*

Pest Control-6.  I thought this one was the best and most like a real episode. It was almost like it was written as an episode and they realized they couldn't film it due to expense.  There's a war between humans and centaurs on some far off planet and the people keep turning into bugs and there's a giant robot hunting the bugs.  Doctor and Donna end up with the different factions and set things right.

The Stone Rose-4.  I liked this one the least.  Mickey shows the Doctor and Rose an ancient statue in a museum that looks just like Rose.  So they go back in time to have the statue made and shenanigans ensue.  It did have some very fun, trippy timey-wimey stuff in it but the bad guy was rather lame and the Roman setting just didn't do much for me. 

Feast of the Drowned-5.  Weird but good.  Modern London.  Ghosts of drowned people keep appearing to their living relatives, enticing the living to drown themselves in the Thames. Aliens are involved of course, Rose gets kidnapped, and the Doctor and Mickey have to save the day.