Sunday, May 23, 2010

Saying Goodbye to LOST



I heart JJ Abrams. From Alias, to Fringe, to the new Star Trek reboot, how can you not heart him just a bit. I was a big fan of Alias, so when JJ had a new show about a bunch of people marooned on a deserted island, I thought hey why not. I was hooked early on. I liked the characters. I liked the story and I liked how every week there were just as many questions as there were answers. I was the geeky girl who poured over fake websites looking for clues and who every week had a mini LOST party with my best friend Paul. I would have the weekly Smirking’s crazy LOST theories that I would discuss with my fellow LOSTies. I bought the puzzles, Bad Twin and squeed happily when Desmond and Penny were reunited.

It has been a great six years and it is sad to see it go. Of course it has been one hell of a ride from polar bears in the jungle to smoke monsters to…what the frak moments. LOST has been a show that has layer upon layer of new hidden little goodies. It has been a show about faith and redemption, good versus evil, of free will versus destiny, love, death, rebirth, survival and faith versus science. We had a doctor, a mother, a man who was paralyzed and now found the ability to talk. There was a washed up rock star, a con man and one pretty fugitive. They were characters you connected with, characters you hated and loved and wondered how they all fit together somehow. I loved the show because it was not like every other show. It wasn’t a CSI clone or a courtroom drama. It was something else.

Every season it reinvented itself. We had the survival aspect mixed with the what the hell is the forest (have they crashed on Jurassic Park perhaps), then it was our LOSTies versus the Others, a science geektacular overload, a will they get off the island and then just because they did it doesn’t mean it is over. Being killed on the island never meant that we would never see you again though it didn’t mean your loss or sacrifice didn’t have an impact.

Thanks to LOST I think I say ‘dude’ way too often. I realized Matthew Fox is still hot after Party of Five, that four toed statues are in vogue, Richard really is that purty, Vincent the wondermutt is made of awesome, science is cool and that stupid Driveshaft song really gets stuck in your head if you let it. I learned that despite all of the mysteries of the show it has been about people, what drives us, what scares us and what makes us human. I discovered I wanted to learn how to play backgammon, to travel more and find a crazy crazy love like Penny/Desmond, Rose/Bernard or Jin/Sun have.

I know that not all of my questions will be answered by the end of tonight. I know not everyone will be satisfied, probably not even me but tonight we’ll be drinking the Dharma cola, have (Jack) Sheperd’s pie and enjoying every last minute. We’ll have our island cake, watch Kimmel afterwards and remember all of those great moments that had us hooked from the start.

So thank you LOST. It’s been wicked. I know I will miss you, but it’s been swell. Ciao.

Iron Man 2: A review


IRON MAN 2 (2010)
Directed By: Jon Favreau
Written By: Justin Theroux, based on the comic by Stan Lee
Genre: ACTION/COMIC
Time: 2 hr 4 min
Starring: Robert Downey Jr, Don Cheadle, Mickey Rourke, Gwenyth Paltrow, Sam Rockwell
Plot: With the world now aware of his dual life as the armored superhero Iron Man, billionaire inventor Tony Stark faces pressure from the government, the press, and the public to share his technology with the military. Unwilling to let go of his invention, Stark, along with Pepper Potts, and James "Rhodey" Rhodes at his side, must forge new alliances - and confront powerful enemies.

Comments: I love Robert Downey Jr. Yep, even from Weird Science. Of course since then there has been Less Than Zero, Chaplin, Restoration, Hugo Pool, Wonder Boys, Ally McBeal, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, Fur and Sherlock Holmes to name a few of my favorites. Even as a comic book little geeky girl like myself I had never really been too much of an Iron Man fan because lets face it Tony Stark is a bit of an ass. But I love Robert Downey Jr so I was willing to give it a go especially since I dig Job Favreau as well (especially since he gave me Elf which is my annual Holiday movie). I loved the first Iron Man. It was everything I wanted and more. It made me reread my Avengers comics and thank the movie gods that someone other than myself was willing to put Robert Downey Jr into a lot of films because that just makes Smirking one happy chickie.

I didn’t see it opening night though. I was worried about a lot of different things such as with too many villains is Iron Man 2 going to suffer like the Dark Knight did? Was Scarlet Johansson going to make me tear out my hair because she ruins a perfectly good character like the Black Widow with her atrocious acting? Was Mickey Rourke just going to make me laugh? Matters were not helped when I asked a few customers what they thought and they were less than pleased. My expectations were low but despite the critics not loving it I was still going to go. The critics never love the movies that I like anyway instead they think that Avatar is a masterpiece on all levels. Pfft!

When visiting my sister for her birthday and baby shower, the regular movie gang decided to head down to the local cinema and watch it. As I said expectations were fairly low, but I had faith…if anything, in Robert Downey Jr’s ability to act. I was not let down. In fact, I am not sure why people didn’t like it that much, kind of the same way that people didn’t adore Sherlock Holmes. I dug it. I even didn’t mind Scarlet as Natasha. There are a few minor quibbles, things that rob it from being fantastic, but it was a decent sequel. And my Avengers squeeing can begin again. Oh no, I am not a geek. Not Smirking.

The sequel has Tony Stark being his usual charismatic, but self destructive narcissistic ass self. And yet somehow we still like him. We still root for him. He likes being Iron Man, being the superhero, but eventually his past will always catch up to him. Not only is he slowly being poisoned by the Reactor in his chest, but his family’s past is going to come to haunt him in the form of Ivan Vanko aka Whiplash. But there are other villains in this film other than Tony vs himself and Iron Man vs Whiplash. The government wants Tony’s suit and Justin Hammer just wants to beat his rival period.

Somehow it all works. I was entertained. I liked it and I am hoping for at least one more appearance of Tony Stark in the Avengers film. The things I was worried about shouldn’t have worried me. Don Cheadle did a wonderful job as Rhodey and I actually thought he was a bit underused. War Machine is pretty cool and I really did enjoy the repartee between Tony and Rhodey especially toward the end when they are fighting the drones. Mickey Rourke did a great job though admittedly I was a bit let down by the final fight scene because it was lot of build up and then wham…done. Scarlet did an ok job with Natasha though I think this mostly comes from her lack of lines and just being eye candy for the most part (I did like it when she took out everyone at Hammer Industries).

I love that Iron Man is rooted in realism, very similar to the Batman reboot. Our hero and the villains aren’t about superpowers, but really brilliant technology. It’s gadgets and guns and science. Not that I don’t mind superpowers superpowers (the Hulk reboot was equally awesome and I am really hoping that Edward Norton will be back for the Avengers film) though I am not sure how Thor is going to turn out because even the Hulk relied on radiation. Who knows, could also be made of awesome.
Things made of awesome: Captain’s shield being used to level things out. Pepper having more of a Girl Friday part, Sam Rockwell with his orange glow paint on tan crying No Fair like a spoiled toddler (he was great and I expect to see more of him), Happy (brilliantly played by Jon Favreau) because lets face it those were great funny ha ha points whenever he was on screen, and how this story didn’t need a whole lot of action.

Things made out of not so awesome: the S.H.I.E.L.D. storyline. I will agree that it is a bit forced and this movie is more of a set up for the Avengers film aka Tony needs to get his shite together in order to be part of that one film that should be coming out in a couple of years. Plus I like Nick Fury. I even liked the idea of Samuel L ‘motherfraking’ Jackson playing Nick Fury, but am less than pleased at his portrayal of said character. Yes, we know you’re a badass Mr. Jackson, but really that is all you are going to give me? The nice little oh look here’s how we will easily fix Tony’s main problem was a bit deus ex machina wasn’t it.

I know that these superhero films are culminating in the Avengers flick which every little good fanboy and girl is hoping to be absolutely epic and lets hope so because Joss really needs something after Dollhouse in my opinion. It does feel like a setup film more than just another purely Iron Man film and yet I like having some setup. I want Tony to head up the Avengers. I want him to stop thinking purely about himself and how awesome he is and realize maybe there should be a team of lovelies that fight the good fight as white knights. I needed a bit of backstory. I needed to know that now everyone knows that Iron Man can bleed, is human and now the sharks will be circling. Ivan was small fry compared to the villains we know to be out there. They’ve been waiting and now they are going to start building up power. Iron Man wont be enough. He’s one man in a suit. I need the rest of the Avengers.

All I know is I liked it. I like where they are going and what they can do. While this was not the same as the first Iron Man, I am still gleefully anticipating more Tony Stark, more Marvel comic goodness and please movie PTB, please keep giving Robert Downey Jr more leading roles. I will love you for it.

Rent/Cinema?: Go see it on the big screen. Worth the money. Definitely worth owning as far as I am concerned.

3/4 popcorns

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Scott Pilgrim Vs The World

Because let's face it this is going to be epic. This is going to be wicked awesome. And you cannot tell my excitement can you. Nah, didnt think so.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Pretty Little Mistakes

Pretty Little Mistakes
Written by: Heather McElhatton
Paperback: 512 pages
Publisher: Harper Paperbacks
Language: English
May 2007, $14.99
Genre: Fiction

It's the last day of high school, should you marry or stay single? Go on to college or fulfill your fantasy of traveling to Europe? Become an artist, an entrepreneur, a homemaker, a doctor...or a drug dealer?

There are hundreds of lives sewn inside Pretty Little Mistakes, Heather McElhatton's singularly spectacular, breathtakingly unique novel that has more than 150 possible endings. You may end up in an opulent mansion or homeless down by the river; happily married with your own corporation or alone and pecked to death by ducks in London; a Zen master in Japan or morbidly obese in a trailer park.

Is it destiny or decision that controls our fate? You can't change your past and start over from scratch in real life - but in Pretty Little Mistakes, you can! But be warned, choose wisely.


+++++++++++++

When I was a kid I would save up my hard earned allowance money not for the usual trinkets the average 10 year old loved, though admittedly I did have no willpower what so ever when the ice cream truck came round. Instead I spent all of my money at the Scholastic Book Fair. The book fair was like Christmas to a girl like me, tons of books, stickers and book covers with puppies, rainbows and unicorns all just waiting for me to purchase them. Apparently my bibliophile addiction started at a young age. One thing I could not resist, other than Lisa Frank anything, was Choose your Own Adventure books. There was something exciting about choosing how the story would unfold or the ability to go back and choose differently so my character didn’t fall into a pit of lava or get crushed by a boulder.

Maybe that was why I was drawn to Pretty Little Mistakes. A chance to read a hundred different endings and a hundred different lifetimes. It was recommended by Miss Whitney over at Pop Candy and her tastes and my tastes tend to be the same. The book itself starts out simple, I graduate from high school. Do I go off to college with my high school boyfriend or do I head off to explore the world. Sadly neither ended well for me.

My character was willing to do a lot that I never would. Sure, I’ve made mistakes like accepting a date from that one guy or believing that the ‘wall of bangs’ and shirts with see through sleeves were acceptable and excellent fashion choices. However, I have never even dreamed of trading sex with a skeevy mechanic just because my car broke down and I am without fundage (I’d call my parents and beg before I stooped that low), though that taking meth might be fun (I work in mental health, trust me when I say I know how horrid the effects are), or choose men let alone stay with men who really like to beat the shit out of me when I show any signs of independence.

Sure, I found my happy endings on occasion, but I usually had something horrendous happen to me before I found it. I wouldn’t even call of my character’s mistakes pretty. Mostly they were ugly, tragic or stupid. My idea of a pretty little mistake does not include joining a cult. I figure overspending on my credit cards, forgetting to pay a bill, getting married too young, deciding to head to Italy on a whim with no money and no concept of the Italian language or being stuck in a dead end job and not willing to do anything about it would be my pretty little mistakes.

My character always had bad or worse decisions, neither of them really choices I would like to make. But maybe that was the point, the absurdity of it all. As a kid reading Choose your Own Adventure titles there were aliens and hidden artifacts, monsters and mysteries, absurd little things that were entertaining. Maybe this was the adult version infused with a ‘maybe it could happen’, but it is no less absurd or fantastic.

Things I loved: I loved the gimmick of it all. It took a lot to keep track of each decision and each story line. I would have loved to see her storyboard. *grin* The writing wasn’t horrible either though it did lack any real depth as far as your character goes, but then again this is more about the paths you take in little cliff notes style summaries than detailing it all.

Things I didn't love so much: It gets a bit monotonous and tired when you quickly discover that most of your ‘choices’ are going to go badly no matter how ‘nice’ or safe they seem. Sometimes you get lucky and have a sort of happy ending, sometimes not so much. But as I think about it life is not always full of puppies and rainbows. Life is about pain, anger, tragedy as much as it is about love, happiness and freedom. Most of the decisions and the lives that unfold are a bit ridiculous and surreal (part Soap Opera, part Jerry Springer, part…something else) and certainly over the top. This gets a bit tedious after a while and really makes this book one of those take a few life journeys, put the book down, go read something else and then pick it up again after a time.

Buy or Borrow: Buy if you like the novelty of it. Borrow if you’re not sure. This book works simply due to the novelty of it though I would be interested to see if I would like McElhatton’s more traditional novels.

Part of: Stand Alone. However another CYOA type novel Million Little Mistakes is out this August.

Also Recommended: Jennifer Johnson Is Sick Of Being Single also by McElhatton, The Old Choose your Own Adventure books many of them penned by R.A. Montgomery

3 out of 4 happy bibliosnark bookmarks

Have your own review? Let me know and I will post it.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Trick of the Light

Trick of the Light
Written by: Rob Thurman
Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: Roc
Language: English
September 2009, $7.99
Genre: Urban Fantasy/Book One of the Tricksters

Now you see it....Now you don't....Now you're history.

There are demons in the world. Monsters. Creatures that would steal your soul. You might hide under your covers at night and pretend all's right with the world, but you know. Even if you don't want to admit it...

Las Vegas bar owner Trixa Iktomi deals in information. And in a city where unholy creatures roam the neon night, information can mean life or death. Not that she has anything personal against demons. They can be sexy as hell, and they're great for getting the latest gossip. But they also steal human souls and thrive on chaos. So occasionally Trixa and her friends have to teach them some manners.

When Trixa learns of a powerful artifact known as the Light of Life, she knows she's hit the jackpot. Both sides-angel and demon-would give anything for it. But first she had to find it. And as Heaven and Hell ready for an apocalyptic throwdown, Trixa must decide where her true loyalty lies-and what she's ready to fight for. Because in her world, if you line up on the wrong side, you pay with more than your life...


+++++++++++++

Why did I pick this up? The cover and perhaps the title. I think I expected the back blurb to read like most urban fantasy these days based on the cover. These urban fantasy books have covers that usually depict a hot chick with a weapon of some sort looking all broody like. The heroines are usually plucky, snarky and no doubt torn between equally brooding vampire hunk and werewolf hunk. But the back cover didn’t mention anything about sexy sexy vampires. Okay maybe there were some sexy sexy demons, but I am okay with a bit of sexual tension and even a little smut provided it does not take up half of the chapters and overshadow a plot (Hamilton anyone?) or perhaps even try to mask that there is no real plot. I like plots. Storylines and character development make me happy. Sorry, I digress. Anyway, the back blurb had me intrigued so I did my usual first page perusal. Was it enough to make me pick it up? Yep. I was hooked enough to shell out my hard earned money.

The story really is simple. Trixa and her rag tag little family fight demons or at least wreak havoc enough to get their panties all in a bunch. Trixa has her bar, enjoys her business or secrets…life is good. But then something pops up on her radar, the Light of Life, and it proves to be something that both Heaven and Hell would do anything to get their hands on. Of course that makes the Light absolutely priceless and Trixa is just the right person to make both sides run, run, run.

So while yes our heroine is plucky, snarky and likable despite her flaws. And she does have them. Despite taking in a couple of ‘strays’, who by the way are completely adorable, she is driven by one thing…revenge. And while yes there is that aforementioned sexy sexy demon lets face it if Johnny Depp or Hugh Jackman were fallen winged hotties who were promising me a whole lot of something something I’d have trouble forming coherent sentences let alone resisting any sort of offer or bargain they were making. Same goes if said demon was Nathan Fillion, James Marsters, David Tennant, Ryan Reynolds or James McAvoy shaped. My list could go on forever because I have no willpower what so ever. But, I am getting distracted again. Surprising, I know.

So yes Trixa is full of black humor and sarcasm, has a past, wants revenge, but has a big soft spot for those she cares about. The other characters are equally entertaining. Leo is just as full of politically incorrect and subversive snark, Lenore needs to be my new pet, Zeke’s worldview does not allow shades of gray and because of that he is like a child despite being able to hurt someone with his pinky, Griffin is like the older brother/good angel on the shoulder (which is funny when you think about it) to his friend and well we all know how I feel about our lovely sexy sexy demon. Beyond the characters I liked the story. It kept me turning the pages. While it slows down a bit in the middle, I didn’t mind the change in pace a bit.

A Brief Excerpt: To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven. I’d read that in a book once, a fairly famous one. Right now I was going with the time of reaping. Fire had been sown and fire would be reaped. Now. By me, personally. Why?

One: fire burns. Fire destroys. Fire cleanses.

Two: fire also drives up your insurance rates like crazy.

Three: it was deserved. Oh yes, it was very much deserved.

And how do I know this? A lot of ways, but mainly because I know there are demons in the world. Monsters. Creatures that would steal and eat your soul. Devils that would….

Wait. You’ve heard this before, right? Seen the movies. Read the books. You might hide under your covers at night or avoid the deepest shadows of the darkest alleys and pretend all’s right with the world, but you know. I don’t need to tell you. I don’t need to show you the light…or the dark.

You know.

Like me, you know. Even if you don’t want to admit it.

Chicken shit.

But that’s okay. Since I knew, I could personally pitch a Molotov cocktail with grim glee at a nightclub that sat halfway between the University and the strip, an area otherwise and ironically called Paradise. No hiding under the covers for me. I knew about what hid in the dark all right and there was nothing I enjoyed more, at least tonight, than watching some son of a bitch demon’s club burn to the ground. Demons in Paradise, could they be more smug?

It was six in the morning and empty. The last drunk had staggered out twenty minutes ago into the November dark morning. Frying patrons wasn’t part of the agenda and it wouldn’t do the demon or his demon employees much harm even if they were standing in the middle of it, not if they changed from human form back to the genuine article fast enough, but I still enjoyed it. Girls, you get your kicks where you can.

And this was a kick. I inhaled the fragrance of burning gasoline, felt the hot wind lift my hair, and the thud of the ground under my sneakers…my normal high heeled boots were out for this one. I also felt the adrenaline squeeze my heart, pump my blood faster and faster. Damn, I loved that feeling. I looked up at the faintly orange sky because Vegas was never dark, fire or not. We were a sun all our own. The smell of smoke and alcohol, the sound of shattering glass as the bottles smashed through windows, and the glorious red and yellow of leaping flames.

“Beautiful,” I murmured, feeling the sear of heat against my face. It didn’t touch the heat of satisfaction inside me.

“Not without its charm,” Griffin commented dryly next to me before turning and following me. “You and your hobbies, Trixa.”


Things I loved: Without giving anything away, and yet in saying just that if you have not read the book you will keep a watchful eye out, I knew there was more to the story, more to the characters and that everything would probably live up to the namesake of the book as a whole. I knew about one of the tricks of the light early on or at least heavily suspected due to my love for mythology and things were too coincidental, but others had me wha-whating, but not in a bad way. In fact now I want to know where everything would or could go from this point on. There are a lot of clues if you look just right, though admittedly they may not add up just the way you thought they added up in your head.

I have talked to a couple of other bibliophiles who didn’t quite like how things turned out in the end simply based on the first person narrative. Shouldn’t it be that we know exactly what is going on because the story is told from the main character. For me it works. Trixa never really lies, but the Trick of the Light gimmick works. It is all about misdirection, making even you the reader ponder what the heck is really going on.

I did enjoy the expansion of the heavy urban fantasy world that Thurman has created with her other series the Cal Leandros series. It makes the world richer and fuller, Plus how could you not love seeing Robin’s name in there. Kind of made me all giddy like. Maybe some warm fuzzies.

Things I didn't love so much: Maybe the ending is a bit too slick, too many reveals in such a short amount of time. Ok when I saw maybe a little bit I mean we all know there is probably going to more. Series rule these days and it is rare that you get one offs any more which is a double edged sword in my opinion. One if you dig the characters and you know that you can see growth in all sorts of areas, yeah you get more. On the other hand many novels sometimes skimp on all of that with the excuse…there’s going to be more don’t worry. I do think Trick of the Light was a bit too tidy, but I wont hold the last 25 pages against the whole. I just don’t think that authors should be afraid to leave a little up to imagination, to slyly drop hints but maybe not give you all of the answers. It was one of the reasons I really enjoyed the Forest of Hands and Teeth a few months back because it left me with as many answers as questions and even if there wasn’t a recently published sequel I would have been happy with just that. Anyway, I did like the ending because now I want to go back and read it again to see if I would pick up on more a ha moments.

Buy or Borrow: Buy. If you like Cal and Niko I think you would like more of Thurman’s work. For me it was worth my hard earned money and I think I am going to keep it which says a lot since bookshelf space around here is vanishing. If anything head to your local library and give it a go.

Part of: a Series. The Grimrose Path, Book 2 of the Trickster novels will be released later this year.

Also Recommended: The Cal Leandros series also by Rob Thurman, The Menagerie series by Christopher Golden or the Kate Daniels series by Ilona Andrews.

3.75 out of 4 happy bibliosnark bookmarks

Have your own review? Let me know and I will post it.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

30 Days of Night: Eternal Damnation

30 Days of Night: Eternal Damnation
Written by: Steve Niles and Jeff Mariotte
Softcover: 336 pages
Publisher: PocketStar
Language: English
July 2008, $7.99
Genre: Graphic Novel Tie-in/Horror/Urban Fantasy

Raising the stakes in an already perilous situation, the elite members of a clandestine government sect have taken it upon themselves to become the arbiters of pain and violence against one of the most terrifying forces humanity has ever encountered. But there will be a heavy -- and horrifying -- final price to pay for both sides of an inhuman struggle that now threatens to spill over into an unsuspecting world....

+++++++++++++

30 Days of Night was an intriguing graphic novel when I first read it because vampires were predators. They weren’t broody, they didn’t sparkle, and they sure as hell didn’t see you as anything other then a meal. They were dangerous and they were scary and I loved it. I read a couple more of the graphic novels, but I never read any of the tie-ins until I picked this up at a library used book sale with the boy.

I wasn’t wholly impressed. Maybe it was because this is the third tie in and I am missing a whole lot. Maybe it was the prose which was lackluster at best. Or maybe it was because there seemed to be more character development in the graphic novels, yes the ones with the pretty pictures and only a smidgen of dialogue. Maybe it would have helped if I hadn’t just jumped into the middle of the story, but it seemed like a lot of the characters that should have been important, plot lines that should have taken center stage were just pushed aside.

Things I loved: I would like to say I liked the vampire parts, but meh. Some of the mythology is interesting when it comes to bites, hybrids and the powers of one very old dame, but I wanted more. I just felt a bit rushed throughout everything and the few places I wanted them to slow it down a bit, those were the places that were rushed through.

Things I didn't love so much: The prose. The plot. The fact that I saw tons of possibilities with plotlines and character development that kind of went a whole lot of nowhere. Which is sad because you see potential and then you see it careen off into either a brick wall or a place you really were hoping it wouldn’t go because you had seen that done that already. Shame really.

Buy or Borrow: Borrow, but only if you are curious to see how 30 Days of Night continues or perhaps you had read the others.

Part of:a series.

Also Recommended: 30 Days of Night the graphic novel series by Steve Niles or perhaps The Shadow Saga by Christopher Golden.

1.75 out of 4 happy bibliosnark bookmarks

Have your own review? Let me know and I will post it.