Monthly Archives: October 2014

Hollowland, by Amanda Hocking, book review

This book reads like Hunger Games and Twilight. Its first person with a female main character. Although there are typos, the book is well written in the parts that were actually edited correctly. Normally a book with numerous editing mistakes annoys me, but these mistakes were easy to read around and the story was good enough that I didn’t mind.

As someone who also writes about zombies, I know how hard and rare it is to find a good book about zombies that actually has some originality. In my opinion this book achieves that.

The author also does a good job of hinting at things but not telling you everything up front, so you feel compelled to read on, because you want to know not only what happens next, but the answers to what’s hinted at.

This book is written appropriately for young adults. Although there are zombies, I was never scared, so it’s not a horror book.

I would mark this as a must read for anyone who enjoyed the recent craze of dystopian books. This one is very original and has aspects that keep you wanting to read more.

The only people it’s not for are the realists out there. If you read other reviews on the book you’ll find that’s the biggest complaint. But come on, you’re reading a zombie book… I think when you decided to pick up a zombie book, you should have already realized logic would not be included.

Hollowland by Amanda Hocking

Casting Shadows Everywhere, book review

The first 80% of the book isn’t anything that spectacular. Story-wise at least. More than once I was wondering what my drive was supposed to be to keep me reading. Cause it was ready just this kid’s day to day ramblings and there was no lead up stuff telling me where the story planned to go.

But the writing style was good enough that I kept going. Its written in first person, but it hints at being second person. The story is literally being told to you. I’ve only seen this done in college level writing classes where you read examples written by the pros. So that alone was enough to keep me reading because these authors were doing the unthinkable, writing an entire book in the second person!! No one does that, especially when it’s their debut novel.

There was finally some action at the 80% mark. Like, blow your mind kind of stuff. My only complaint is, I wish I’d been given some hints that this was coming. Cause that is all this book is missing, I needed a better sense of where the story was going. Although, I did enjoy the shock value.

After that initial event, things kind of spiral into craziness. Then a dream sequence is told as if real and I got really confused cause the point of when the dream started was unclear. So I have no idea how much was real or not real. It’s never really explained.

It almost felt like the author backpedaled at the last minute and decided they didn’t want the book to be that dark. I dunno, the ending could have been wrapped up better in my opinion.

Overall, I would recommend the book as a read. There are a few education points in the story too, plus like I said before, its cool to read a book that successfully pulled off the second person narration.

Casting Shadows Everywhere, by L.T. Vargus and Tim McBain

The Judge, movie review

I was on the fence with this movie and then I overheard some coworkers saying it was good, like really laying on the “you should see it”. And then another person told me they were anxious to see it. So I was like, eh, it looks like a nice heartwarming film. Maybe something like “Nebraska” or “God is for Real.” (Both were excellent)

When I walked into the theater, I already knew something was awry. The people present were all Robert Downey Jr age or older. I mean, there were people with oxygen masks and wheelchairs. Already, I knew I was not the target audience. But eh, that doesn’t mean I won’t enjoy it, right?

Try as I might, I could not connect to a single character. The plot does throw a few “surprises at you” but they are all clique, been done, seen it in other movies. An example, and spoiler, (sorry but it must be done to get my point across). Main character makes out with a cute chick in a bar. Later we find out she’s the daughter of his high school girlfriend. (shocker, but been done, right?) Then they draw it out for the whole movie, not saying if it’s his kid or not. When they finally tell us the answer, it’s another clique, that’s all I’m gonna say.

Another clique example, brother of the main character (Downey) had a future ahead of him as a pro athlete. Drunk driving accident ruins his career, guess who was driving? Downey. The third brother had down syndrome and it never played a role in the plot. I think they put him in there just to add some more emotion. It could have worked, if they’d given him more of a purpose.

The actors tried. But none of the actors were a good fit for the movie. I seriously think the movie would have been better with lessor known actors. The all-star cast just made it worse. Cause you knew—you just knew—they could do better.

This movie, I say, avoid at all costs. Unless you are just a huge fan of Robert Downey Jr or Robert Duvall. Cause they do get plenty of screen time and you’ll get to stare at them a lot. There is a nude scene with Duvall, if that rocks your boat. And Downey flashes his “too-perfect for this role” abs.

Nah, I digress, this movie could be good. But I’d suggest it only if you are Downey’s age or older. You will then be able to relate to the characters more. If you are thirty or younger… wait a few decades.

Dracula Untold, movie review

I can usually tell if I’m going to like or hate a movie within the first five minutes. This movie… I hated it after the first actor opened his mouth. I literally reached over, patted my husband’s shoulder and said, “I’m so sorry.”

Based off the trailer, I was expecting Van Helsing mixed with 300. Some nice, dark scary vampires. What I got was Hercules, the tv show, mixed with Eragon, only with bats instead of dragons.

It felt like someone thought up a bunch of awesome action scenes, then tried to string together a plot that would enable them to use these scenes. Which resulted in a plot that made no sense.

There’s a scene where the Dracula guy says, “You think you are alive because you can fight? You are alive because of me!” Absolutely no one would have been thinking this. No one. Why? Because he has literally been doing all the fighting. No one else has even picked up a sword. But the line sounded cool, so I’m sure that’s why they used it.

He fights a thousand man army. By himself. But the army is right outside the gates of his castle. And he’s not killing them very fast, I mean, it’s fast, maybe twenty people a minute. But that’s leaves like, over an HOUR for the last twenty to go storm the castle. But they don’t, they just stand in line for their chance to get killed by him.

Starting to see the plot problems here?

Don’t go… maybe save it for a DVD rental so you and your friends can make fun of it while watching. Cause that’s what I did. Normally, I would say the other movie patrons were annoyed, but most of them were either asleep or doing the same thing.

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, movie review

I hadn’t seen a good comedy in a while, so figured I’d give this movie a go. The trailers made it look decent.

It delivers what the trailer promises. There are more jokes involved than what are shown in the trailers. So that’s good news. There is a plot, a simple one, but its there. And it will actually leave you with a warm fuzzy feeling.

It’s a good flick to take the kids too. There are a lot of hidden messages and morals, hidden in the story. And well, they aren’t hidden that well, so your kids are bound to “get the message” and enjoy quite a few laughs at the same time.

The acting is kind of lacking… but eh, it’s a comedy. Take the kids and go get a laugh. If you’re an adult… you may not enjoy it as much. I alter my expectations depending on the genre of movie, so for what this was sold to me as, it met. I enjoyed it.

Gone Girl, movie review

There was something enticing about the trailer for this movie. I think I decided to see the movie simply because I wanted to know, did he or did he not kill his wife?

Normally I shy away from Ben Affleck movies. To me, he’s not the best actor. But he did well for this role; emotionless husband, with occasion flash bursts of anger.

I was also worried about the length. Two and half hours long, most movies that long are pushing it. But this movie was perfect. Never did I glance at my watch. I was actually eagerly wanting more. And unlike most movies I’ve seen lately, this one had a superb ending.

The plot takes several twists and often you are on the edge of your seat wondering, “will they get caught?” And cheering for one side or the other. And the surprises keep coming.

The dialogue is great, there are several great one liners that will make you chuckle. It’s the exchange between the actors that keep the movie feeling “real”. The sarcastic remarks that family members make and the accidental words spoken, we’ve all been there. I can’t say more, because I don’t want to give any suspense moments away.

I’m betting this movie will be nominated for a Golden Globe and will win. Its the first movie I’ve seen this year that I can honestly say that about. So don’t let the length of the movie or the fact Ben Affleck is in it deter you. Go see it.

My Real Children, book review

The plot of this book sounded appealing. The main character is an old woman in a nursing home who remembers two lives. She is struggling to remember which one is real and which is fake. Great premise right?

Sadly, it fell victim to too many hidden, okay, not so hidden, political points that the author wanted to make. And then the ending was just a letdown.

So the plot. One life, she’s a victimized homemaker, the stereotype of a wife forced to pop out as many babies as possible. She almost dies from giving birth, each time, is miserable, husband is mean to her, he actually burns the love letters he wrote her. And eventually, oh yes, after twenty sum years of marriage, leaves her for another man. Not a typo, he literally ends up being secretly gay.

The other life? She doesn’t get married. Is happy as a clam, travels all of Europe, and… falls in love with a woman. Yup. It goes lesbian.

Needless to say, this book is a little heavy in the anti-men department. It’s a bit hard to swallow.

It also takes place in Europe and there all kinds of language barriers that I didn’t know existed. Her husband can’t get a good job because he graduated from college with a Third. Whatever that is.

And the ending, spoiler alert. She can pick which life she wants. And you don’t even get to know which she picks. She just gives you the cheesy line of: “She wouldn’t have been the person her life her made her if she could have made any other answer.”

And if the two different lives isn’t confusing enough. There’s a ton of characters, for example—seven kids total, and there are grandkids too. And just to make it more confusing, the main character gives herself about seven different nicknames as the book unfolds. Be prepared to either stop caring or create a quad chart.

Luckily, the plot doesn’t have much going for it, so no confusion there. Her life is very boring and normal. Other than the weird relationships, that keep popping up. For example: one of her kids grows up to be in a man-man-woman long-term relationship. It has nothing to do with anything, it’s just there to make another political point.

Would I suggest this book? No. Not unless you are into feminist activist, liberal type books. Cause that is who this book is targeted for. In other words, if you hate men, this is the book for you.

The Equalizer, movie review

This movie does deliver what it promises. It is two hours long, but only a few scenes drag on a bit longer than needed. For the most part, the pace is well set.

I’ll admit I’d seen the trailer for this movie so many times, I had the dialogue and scenes memorized. So as the movie unfolded, I kept my eye out for those scenes, wondering how it would all link together. The story is actually slightly different than what the trailer leads you to believe. Or I just interpreted it wrong. Either way, the misdirection was good and kept me guessing.

There were a few scenes that were shot kind of strange, like a weird angled lingering view of the tattoos on the bad guy. It was excessive. All I can think is the director has a thing for tattoos.

The acting was great. And although not everything is fully explained regarding the background of the characters, you are given enough clues that you can make your own assumptions and feel satisfied. In other words, they don’t spoon fed you.

If you are looking for an action movie, this is the one to see. Yeah, some things are overdone and unbelievable, but it’s not overly excessive like most movies. The core of the movie is the plot and characters, not just action.

Maze Runner, movie review

I wanted to like this movie. I really did. I remember some classic movies where people are abducted and put into a maze or puzzle and they must figure out how to escape. You know, like the Saw movies but with a real plot and not all the gore. That’s what I was expecting when I went to see Maze Runner.

As I started watching it, I realized it was more “Lord of the Flies” than it was a cool maze. The idea is these kids are being put there and they were supposed to be trying to leave, but instead one kid got it in his head that they should stay. So they all stayed. For three years they stayed. So then a kid who helped design the maze is put in, to help them get out. I’m thinking, that makes sense, I would get upset too if the people weren’t playing the game.

It only takes the new arrival three days and he gets the kids out. Yup, that’s right, they get out of the maze. Now here is where this goes from a good movie, to a bad. All in the last fifteen minutes.

All they needed to do was END it. Give me the bad guy, give me a nice simple reason as for why they were being put in the maze. And I would be happy.

But no. The movie twists, warps and decides it wants to be like Divergent and Hunger Games. Let’s go all geo-political and draw this plot out for three books and four movies. The kids get out, only to find that that was only step one in the massive puzzle of “tests” they must endure.

I’m like, WTF? It took those kids THREE YEARS to get out of the maze. Is this like a competition to win a 401K retirement plan? Cause the rate this is going, that’s what these kids will want by the time they finish.

Maybe I’m just sick and tired of dystopian movies involving putting kids in harm’s way. This was too much like Hunger Games, Divergent and the Giver. See it if you want, but be forewarned, the ending is crummy–in more ways than I already told you.