Howl’s Moving Castle

I loved the film so much that I was excited to read this book. My one problem with the movie was that there were some strange non-sequiturs at the end, and now I believe them to be tying up loose ends from the book that didn’t quite fit in the film, but they tried. There was a barrage of characters at the end that had various spells broken in both formats, but they fit together with the story better in the book.  The movie is a dreamy feast for the eyes, but the book is the glue for it. I really enjoyed the book much more on many levels, but my love for Hayao Miyazaki will keep it in my heart forever.  If you haven’t had the pleasure of meeting Howl yet, please scope out the film first.  I really think that is the best way to do it. Somehow I don’t know if the movie will hold up as well now, but I really hope it does. It is different enough that I think I can think of them as 2 separate stories.




Redbox Rundown

I’ve been a fan of Redbox for awhile now, but lately hubby and I have been using it a lot.  We cut back on our movie theater visits in the last year or so, so now we rent a lot more often.  Lately we’ve seen:

Oz the Great and Powerful- I like all the lead actors, and several minor ones, in this movie and had a lot of fun watching it.  It made me a bit sad that I missed it in the theater, but only because I think the 3D parts would have been fun instead of annoying on my 2D TV.  I can see why some people didn’t like it, but as an Oz and Disney fan, it made my heart happy. 4/5 stars

Side Effects- I don’t remember what the commercials said about this movie, but it was VERY different than what I expected during most of the movie.  I don’t want to give too much away, but it has a very talented cast that I enjoyed watching.  3.5/5 stars

Warm Bodies- I love zombie movies and this one was hilarious!  It was totally a different take on the zombie virus thing and it had a cute love story.  If Twilight had been like this I think more people would have liked it. Buying the movie and looking forward to reading the book.  5/5 stars

The Last Stand- Typical Schwarzenegger film.  Good guys vs. Bad guys. Lots of shooting, driving fast cars etc.  Had the added benefit of Johnny Knoxville (I love that guy!) fighting next to Arnie and Peter Stormare as a baddie.  If you’re a Community fan then you’ll also recognize the great Luis Guzman!  4/5 stars

Beautiful Creatures

I’ve turned into quite the urban fantasy junkie lately.  Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia was one of my latest conquests.  I enjoyed it thoroughly and recommend it to anyone into these types of books.  I look forward to getting the rest of the series in my hands to pick up where I left off.

That being said, AVOID THE MOVIE AT ALL COSTS!  It was terrible!!  I knew it probably would be when I got about a third of the way into the book.  So much had already happened (it is fairly long) that either the movie had to be FOREVER long, or they were going to have to cut a lot out of the book to make the movie work.  They took the 2nd option.  As a Harry Potter book and movie fan, I can accept that cuts have to be made sometimes to make a book into a watchable movie for existing fans and newbies.  This movie didn’t do a very good job of it.  They merged characters, which sometimes is necessary, but the two they fused didn’t work.  Not only that, but it took some of the sweetness and soul out of the book version by doing it.

So, READ Beautiful Creatures, but don’t watch it!!

Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters

I was really bummed to miss this one in the theaters, and so VERY happy when it came to Redbox.  This movie was a lot of fun, but a bit more violent than I was expecting.  As a Tarantino fan it wasn’t anything I couldn’t handle, just unexpected. Pretty bloody.

Jeremy Renner was fantastic!  I was glad he got to use the “bad assery” that he was denied in The Avengers (because let’s face it, his character kinda got shafted).  I had read in a review somewhere that his character was a bit asexual and awkward.  I didn’t get that at all.  The guy travels the globe hunting witches with his sister.  What are you expecting?  Of course he doesn’t make much time for women, he takes his job very seriously.

Gemma Arterton was great too.  She was by far the best part of Clash of the Titans (2010) and Prince of Persia so it was nice to see her next to a decent leading man.  (She was also in Quantum of Solace if you’re looking for another good film.)  It’s always fun to see a leading lady that can pull her own weight in an action flick.

I thought overall, the movie was better than I expected.  I enjoy a good fairy tale re-telling and this one was better than last year’s Snow White and the Huntsman (which could have been saved if they casted a better Snow) and 2011’s Red Riding Hood (SO disappointed by that one!).  My favorite part was that you see the after effects from their abandonment and the experience in the witch’s candy house.  Besides emotional scarring you find out one of them has an added lifetime difficulty that I’d never thing of normally.  You’ll have to watch to see what I mean as it does play a small but crucial part and I don’t give spoilers!

Storm and Spark

I recently inherited my brother-in-law’s Kindle because he got the Paperwhite. I was overjoyed because I’ve been very sad since my Nook died without explanation back in October. (The moral there is to keep your receipts!)

Because of this, I was able to finally get my hands on an eBook that I’d read a sample from. It’s a new urban fantasy series (called Elemental) by Brigid Kemmerer.  After doing better research, I’ve found that they are also available in paperback on Amazon, I may end up buying those too as I’m still an old school collector that way.

I read the sample for Storm around August/September last year but already had a backlog of eBooks that I’d grabbed for cheap, so I held onto the sample, and put it on the back burner.

So flash to last week. I had just inhaled Silver Linings Playbook and I had a new-to-me Kindle with nothing in it. I pulled up my B&N account online and dug through to see if I had saved any gems. If you don’t know anything about e-readers, just know that, like all techy toys, there are 2 major options and they do not use compatible files. I just pulled the equivalent of going from a PC to an Apple, or Android to iPhone. (I think I may need to write another post on just that).

So I downloaded Storm. A new book, not a series so I can just read and not worry about file crossovers or taking a lot of obsessing time if it was as good as the first chapter made me think.  Short overview without being too spoilery: There are 5 elements: earth, fire, air, water & spirit.  The idea is that everyone has some degree of preference for one or 2 (like they fall in-between elements).  Normal people like you or me may just have a preference to one over the others.  Water people like to swim, earth people are very outdoorsy, if you fall between fire and earth you may end up studying volcanoes for a living, you get the idea.  Then there are the people of the Elemental community.  These people fall closer to one of the elements and can gain some power from them.  Then there are the Pure Elements.  They can harness great power and are viewed as very dangerous.  Pure Spirits Elementals are permitted to live as they can harness all 4, their job is to find other pure Elementals and kill them.  Enter 4 hot mysterious brothers… you do the math.

A week later, I’ve read both Storm and Spark, as well as 2 of the in-between short stories and now I’m bummed that I have to wait until the end of May for the 3rd book, Spirit.

Addicted much? Yes-sir-ee Bob! Typical to what I’ve been reading a lot of lately, teenage urb-fan fueled by a love triangle and a mystery or two of unusual happenings. A tad bit predictable and not the strongest writing, but stronger than Twilight in that respect.

I don’t like comparing these kinds of books to Twilight, but you really can’t help it as it’s really the “gateway” series into the genre.  If it weren’t for Twilight’s success, you’d probably not see the Cassandra Clares and Kemmerers out there getting a shot.  I like the Elemental characters much more, they’re flawed, and much more realistic, no Mary Sues here.  Their dialogue feels more in touch with real teens. They *gasp* swear and are far from perfect little angels (don’t worry, overall they’re good kids).  There’s also a *spoiler alert!* “yer a wizard, Harry” moment in it.  I found it rather predictable, but that’s okay, it was fun watching them all get there.  When I find something like that come up that predictably I have to remind myself it’s a YA book and I probably wouldn’t have gotten there so quickly as a teen.

I also like that these stories are written from 2 different people’s perspectives. No more Bella not knowing what Edward is thinking problems there. Obviously the other characters don’t know still, but at least we, the readers, do.  It actually helps build up the tension a little more sometimes.  You KNOW what’s going to be behind the door… DON’T OPEN IT!!

Each story is also about different people in the “clique.” Eventually we will have a chance to spend time in everyone’s heads, and so we will know how they all think and get a feel for all their inner struggles and insecurities.

It’s one large story arc told by different people from varying points of view.  Very similar to an episodic drama show.  The season/series tells 1 big story, but each “episode” has a smaller story-line that concentrates on different characters each time. A bit different from what I’ve seen in the past for similar books.  They’re usually from the same 1-2 people’s points of view and no one else’s. I’m totally hooked!

I believe you can/should read them in order, but I recommend the order I’ve read them in so far:

  • Storm (#1)  This one came out after Elemental, so it should be read 2nd, but I had more fun learning about the world from an outsider’s view (Becca’s not from “the community” so we learn about them as she does
  • Elemental (#.5, eBook only) POV from 2 Elementals, 1 pure, 1 less so, the concept is quickly explained, but I would have been annoyed if I read this one first
  • Fearless (#1.5, eBook only)
  • Spark (#2)
  • Breathless (#2.5, eBook only, out this Tuesday)
  • Spirit (#3, out May 28, 2013)

Have fun, I sure did!

The Silver Linings Playbook

I knew almost nothing about this book, other than all the Oscar buzz for the movie, which I have yet to see. I picked it up because I just got a Kindle and wanted to read a book on it, this was cheap so I grabbed it.

What a great surprise! I loved it. I don’t know if it has been said before, but I took it like The Perks of Being a Wallflower for adults. I loved how rich all the characters were and the optimism of Pat. Now knowing who Jennifer Lawrence plays I can see why she got all the Oscar buzz again, very different from who she really is and a great character to portray. I’d really recommend it to anyone who likes stories with a little mystery and portrayals of real life.