Wednesday, February 29, 2012

212 in 2012: February Films

February Films have included:

16. The A-Team (3/4 popcorns)
17. Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory (3.5/4 popcorns)
18. Rise of the Planet of the Apes (4/4 popcorns)
19. Bad Teacher (2/4 popcorns)
20. The Descendants (3/4 popcorns) [theatre]
21. The Tempest (2.75/4 popcorns)
22. Chronicle (4/4 popcorns) By far the best film of this past month [theatre]
23. Paranormal Activity 3 (2.25/4 popcorns)
24. This Means War (3.25/4 popcorns) [theatre]
25. Rio (2.5/4 popcorns)
26. Polish Wedding (4/4 popcorns)
27. Paul (2.75/4 popcorns)

Rating Scale:
4 Popcorns = A worthy addition to any film collection. Loved it. See it theatres if you can. Maybe even more than once.
3 Popcorns = Please go see or rent. Liked it.
2 Popcorns = More flaws, than merits. Wait for HBO or TBS. It was okay.
1 Popcorn = Not Worth Watching. Not even on HBO or TBS. It was horrible. Stay away. Far, far away.
Italics denotes favorite

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

The List Thus far

212 in 2012
Start/End Date Date: Jan 1, 2012 – Dec 31st, 2012
Number of Films: 27
Total Hours Watched: Far too many
Last Updated: February 29th, 2012

The list Thus far:
January
1. Transformers: Dark Side of the Moon (1/4 popcorns)
2. Contagion (3/4 popcorns)
3. Ballerina (2.5/4 popcorns)
4. Don't Be Afraid of the Dark (2/4 popcorns)
5. Pixar Shorts (4/4 popcorns)
6. Super (2/4 popcorns)
7. Greatest Movie Ever Sold (3/4 popcorns)
8. Easy A (4/4 Popcorns)
9. Tabloid (2/4 popcorns)
10. We Bought a Zoo (3.25/4 popcorns)
11. War Horse (3/4 popcorns)
12. Blue Valentine (2.5/4 popcorns)
13. Haywire (2.5/4 popcorns)
14. Red Tails (2/4 popcorns)
15. Prom (2/4 popcorns)

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Tuesday Trailers: Cabin in the Woods

I am a Joss Whedon fanatic and I've been looking forward to Cabin in the Woods for quite some time. Written by Drew Goddard and Joss Cabin in the Woods stars Chris Hemsworth, Bradley Whitword and Joss alums such as Amy Acker, Fran Kranz and Tom Lenk. Directed by Goddard who brought awesome Buffy eps like Conversations with Dead People this should hit theatres this April. Yeah. What do you think?



Monday, February 27, 2012

Un Lun Dun

Un Lun Dun

Written by: China Meiville

Kindle Version: 469 pages

Publisher: Random House 

Language: English

February 2007, $8.99

Genre: Fantasy/Young Adult (Though more appropriate for grades 5-8 in my opinion)

“What is Un Lun Dun?

It is London through the looking glass, an urban Wonderland of strange delights where all the lost and broken things of London end up . . . and some of its lost and broken people, too–including Brokkenbroll, boss of the broken umbrellas; Obaday Fing, a tailor whose head is an enormous pin-cushion, and an empty milk carton called Curdle.
Un Lun Dun is a place where words are alive, a jungle lurks behind the door of an ordinary house, carnivorous giraffes stalk the streets, and a dark cloud dreams of burning the world. It is a city awaiting its hero, whose coming was prophesied long ago, set down for all time in the pages of a talking book.

When twelve-year-old Zanna and her friend Deeba find a secret entrance leading out of London and into this strange city, it seems that the ancient prophecy is coming true at last. But then things begin to go shockingly wrong.”




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

The last time we met for YA Book club, we were talking about how some of the plot stereotypes are getting old. In particular the character/protagonist who thinks they have no powers then magically not only finds out that they do have powers, but that they are the most powerful ones in that particular verse. I would love for the hero to just be normal amidst all of the paranormal. So Finn decided to choose Un Lun Dun where apparently the normal girl is the hero. More than that the premise sounded great. An Unlondon kind of like the Nightside by Simon R Green, or Neverwhere or Mirrormask by Neil Gaiman. Sounds like the kind of thing I would dig right?



And then I began to read it. I had been wanting to read China Mieville for some time and while I probably would have chosen his adult novels before YA, it worked for me. Except as I began to read I was annoyed. Oh look Destiny is a theme again and it looks like Zanna is the Chosen One. Frustrating. Finn lied. And then I kept reading. Yeah.



Zanna and Deeba two best friends from London begin to notice strange things, all surrounding Zanna. Eventually the two find themselves in Un Lun Dun, which is essentially an UnLondon where everything is strange and unusual and the world is populated by all of the things and trash that London no longer needs or has found obsolete. But Unlondon is in trouble and its up to The Schwazzy to save them. But who really is the Schwazzy?



Things I loved: Destiny and Fate are very frequent themes in so much of YA fiction. This isn't necessarily a bad thing but it is really nice to read something that strays from the Narnia/Spiderwick/Harry Potter formulas. It isn't fate that moves the story along. It is the choices that the characters make and it is based on who they are not what they may be. That is awesome. And I absolutely love that Mieville surprised me. I really did think the whole novel was going to be about Zanna and I found her extremely boring and selfish.
The overall plot switched up the paces as well. Characters die, things get lost and it became more than the hero’s journey. 



The world is really what makes this book. In many ways I both loved and hated UnLondon. Its odd and fantastic where a school of fish in a diving suit is a sentient being, where a man can be clothed in books and where giraffes are people eating monsters (sometimes illustrated beautifully by Mieville, the giraffe sketch by the way is frightening which is just awesome) . For a child I can imagine that the whole experience would be sublime. As an adult, I felt that Un Lun Dun should be in the Harry Potter age section rather than Young Adult. It read a bit too young and the puns are not good. They were cute at first and then they just got old. Really fast. Like in the first 10 chapters fast.

And yet I dig the strangeness of it all. I only wish that he had spent as much time with his characters as he did his world building which is by far the best character in the book. How can you not love forests in houses and litter that is sentient. I mean who wouldn't want to have a cute little milk carton as a pet? Which brings us to the things I didn't love so much.

Things I didn't love so much: I don’t understand why authors dumb down language for young adult books. I can maybe understand independent readers, which is where I think this should be marketed and shelved, but the scaled down prose and language is just irritating. Plus like Empty, an earlier novel I read, the sledgehammer to the head approach in your save the environment theme made me want to toss the book away. And yet my biggest gripe was that this book relied so heavily on its quirkiness and on descriptions that the core things that made me excited (turning the whole ‘chosen one to save a fantastic land’ cliched plot on its head) got lost.

While I liked Deeba at first and in the ned, she is fairly one dimensional. I cant relate to her even though I really wanted to as she is just the normal girl with a really weird name. She isn't fleshed out for me. I dont have a clear picture of who she is or what she looks like. She is the most mundane of them all and it is sad when secondary characters whose ‘fleshing out’ is primarily due to their descriptions of appearances and mannerisms. I couldn't get emotionally involved with any of them and that is extremely disappointing.

I really wish I had read Perdido Street Station which has been sitting in my TBR pile for more than a year rather this one. I was extremely disappointed considering how much people throw Mieville’s name out to me as an author to read. And yet I saw really awesome potential in Un Lun Dun which is probably why I am so disappointed.

Buy or Borrow: Borrow

Part of: A Standalone

Also Recommended: For strange worlds I would recommend watching Neil Gaiman’s Mirrormask or reading Neverwhere. For an adult version of another London, Simon R Green’s Nightside series is amazing. The Phantom Tollbooth would be a nice recommendation as well. If you are a Mieville fan, perhaps Kraken his latest?

2.25 out of 4 happy bibliosnark bookmarks


The Soundtrack for this Post: Possibly Maybe by Bjork, Wait by The Kills, Abandon Opening Titles by Clint Mansell and Closer by the Gracious Few.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

SUNDAY SEVEN: Fictional Pets

This Sunday Seven I thought we should discuss fictional pets largely as I spent the weekend watching the family dog and cat. It can be from television or books, or movies. It is up to you. Here are my picks.


One: Fezzgig // The Dark Crystal Fezzgig is a little ball of fur and fangs that would be a complete handful, but he is so cute. If you have seen the film, I am sure you will agree. Belonging to Kira, a Gelfling, Fizzgig is pretty much a puppy in the world of the Dark Crystal. He is extremely protective of Kira, sometimes a bit of a coward, but completely adorable. I even have a little doll of him though he came with my 12inch figures of Jen and Kira.



Two: Mouse// Harry Dresden series by Jim Butcher: Mouse is a giant mutt that is more than meets than eye and Harry’s dog. Harry first met Mouse in Blood Rites when Harry was hired by a Tibetan Monk to rescue Mouse and the rest of his litter. But Mouse decided to stow away after the rescue and with no way to return him, Harry adopted the puppy which then turned into a huge dog (compared to a Ovecharka Mountain Dog). We later learn that Mouse is a temple dog which is essentially a celestial scion of a Foo Dog. He is only partially mortal and is hella smart, perceptive and has his own supernatural powers. PLus he is extremely loyal to Harry and has saved his life a few times. Who wouldn't want a pony sized dog to be your guardian?



Three: Spike // October Daye series by Seanan McGuire Spike is an adorable little rose goblin from the October Daye series. Described as essentially a cat crossed with a rose bush, Spike became Toby’s when she named it. He doesnt flower but has thorns instead of fur. Another extremely loyal companion, Spike loves car rides, is quite vocal, though Toby cannot understand his chirps and ‘purrs’. He also has his own magic and survives quite well with some sunlight, water and fertilizer.



Four: Bubo // Clash of the Titans I grew up loving Ray Harryhausen’s Clash of the Titans. I also really wanted Bubo, the little mechanical owl forged by Hephaestus when Athena cannot give Perseus who treasured companion. He was steampunk before it was cool and completely adorable. Though I suffered through the recent remake, seeing Bubo even for a second made me quite happy.



Five: Ein // Cowboy Bebop He is a corgi. He is also a data dog. And pretty much is awesome. Brought aboard by Spike, Ein is not only uber intelligent and attentive, but he can steer a car, answer the phone, use the SSW, plays shogi and more. In one episode he hacked a computer. Though the crew tends to dismiss him as just a cute little puppy, I wouldn't just like Ed never did. plus did I mention he is a corgi, all stubby legs and all. It would mean he would get lots and lots of cuddles.



Six: Darwin // Seaquest DSV My own personal talking dolphin. I think no explanation other than that is needed. Okay for those of you who don’t know Seaquest, Darwin is just your average dolphin. What makes him special is a translation device that allows him to communicate his thoughts. Bridger brought him to Seaquest after he had befriended him at home and at that time used hand signals to communicate. While technically Darwin cant really talk, but rather the vocoder transmits simple ideas (“the dark” is death), he is still fairly awesome and treated like a member of the crew rather than a pet.



Seven: Guenhwyvar // Drizzt seies by RA Salvatore Guen is a magical black panther that Drizzt can call from the Astral Plane after he acquires her artifact (a black onyx figurine). Drizzt has never wanted Guen to be used for evil and he summons her quite often as she not only helps him in battle, but she is his companion. Who wouldn't want a loyal giant shadow panther?

Honorable Mentions Scooby Doo, Hedwig // Harry Potter, Podo and Codo // The ferrets from Beastmaster, Roberto the Fruit Bat // Christopher Moore’s books, and Falcor the Luck Dragon.

What are your favorite fictional pets?

Rosemary and Rue

Rosemary and Rue

Written by: Seanan McGuire 

Paperback: 368 pages

Publisher: DAW

Language: English

September 2009, $7.99
Genre: Urban Fantasy/Series

“October "Toby" Daye, a changeling who is half human and half fae, has been an outsider from birth. After getting burned by both sides of her heritage, Toby has denied the Faerie world, retreating to a "normal" life. Unfortunately for her, the Faerie world has other ideas...



The murder of Countess Evening Winterrose pulls Toby back into the fae world. Unable to resist Evening's dying curse, which binds her to investigate, Toby must resume her former position as knight errant and renew old alliances. As she steps back into fae society, dealing with a cast of characters not entirely good or evil, she realizes that more than her own life will be forfeited if she cannot find Evening's killer.”




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

I have said it before and I will say it again, I love the fae. But that is because faeries are dangerous, manipulative, beautiful and scary and thanking them would really not be a good idea. Tinkerbell they are not. I grew up on the mythology of all things faerie, of pixies and the Wild Hunt, of selkies and bansidhes. There is something about the different courts, of light and dark, summer and winter...all of the intrigue. More than that just because you might be Seelie Court, bright and shining doesn’t necessarily mean that you are the good guys. While the Toby Daye series is far different than the fairytales I read as a child, I like it. Kind of the same way I am digging Lost Girl on Sci-fi.


October Daye (Toby) is a changeling, part faerie and part human, working as a private detective in San Francisco. She is not fully accepted by the fey world, and she marries a human and has a daughter, but loses them both when she is cursed and vanishes for 14 years. Nothing like being a goldfish in San Francisco to turn things asunder. When she returns, she has to start over and learn how the world has passed on without her. And then her friend Evening Winterrose is murdered, and Toby is cursed to solve her murder or die trying. . . 


Things I loved: Toby talks about her weaknesses, which she undoubtedly has compared to most of the big bads or even little bads that she faces or that are around her. But she recognizes those weaknesses and compensates for them. This is not a woman who is afraid to run away, but in doing so she has strength. And lets face it Toby would be lost and dead without her friends and companions who make up for her weaknesses.

I think one of the huge reasons I like Toby though is because of her sense of right and wrong and her utter loyalty to those she cares for. There is a very big reason why Toby ended up making friends with the Sea Witch. As I said Toby is alive because of those she has helped and befriended. While yes she is sarcastic like so many urban fantasy heroines but aren’t we all? I wouldn’t object to Toby being both my friend and my hero. She is a nicely layered character, one that I look forward to getting to know as the series continues.



The story doesn't feel rushed which I love. And I am so happy to finally understand all of those gaps that had me bewildered in the second book. But it is nice to read another series where the characters don’t fall in love in 256 pages. Things are not tidy. There are still questions I have. And I dig that. The mystery is awesome in this book as well. there are so many shades of grey, not necessarily clear cut bad guys.

Finally as a Shakespeare nut, I loved the references. Especially when Toby does some of her spells.

Things I didn't love so much: I will say that I am very glad that I read the second first as this one was okay, but not amazing and I am not sure that I would have picked up the rest of the books. Which would be a shame as I am in the middle of the third book and loving it enough that I may have to just go out and buy the rest of them to feed my fix. It just has first novel jitters. The writing can be a bit repetitive and i don’t think Toby’s voice and characterization is as strong as it is in latter books.

I am thankful for my love of mythology and blame my mum for telling me tales of the fey when I was a kid. So many of the characters and creatures are familiar to me. And while the pronunciation guide gets props, I would have loved to have seen brief descriptions of some of them as those who aren’t familiar with mythology may be fairly lost.

While Toby is certainly growing on me, in this book she aggravated me to the Nth degree. Really? You didn't see that final betrayal coming from a legion away considering your history together. And while I understand that in your head you can make a decision that someone needs to die, while your heart hesitates long enough for you to fail in being the hero, I was still angry at her. But maybe thats why I am growing to like her because she is so flawed at times. And I don’t think it is ever easy for Toby to take a life even when they are a very big bad guy. As I said there are some first book jitters and it felt like Seanan was trying to cram a bit too much.

Buy or Borrow: Buy. Though it is not the strongest of the books, it would be like not reading Storm Front or Magic Bites.

Part of: A Series. 

Book One: Rosemary and Rue

Book Two: A Local Habitation

Book Three: An Artificial Night

Book Four: Late Eclipses

Book Five: One Salt Sea


Book Six: Ashes of Honor (Sept 2012)

Also Recommended: For more fey action, I would suggest Melissa Marr’s YA series that begins with Wicked Lovely. For similar series I would suggest the Kate Daniels series by Ilona Andrews and the Mercy Thompson series by Patricia Briggs. And yes I would even recommend the Mercy Gentry series by Laurell K Hamilton.

3 out of 4 happy bibliosnark bookmarks


The Soundtrack for this Post: Blackout by Breathe Carolina, Today by Poe, Color Me Once by the Violent Femmes and Pauline by Eleni Mendell.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

212 in 2012: Haywire


Haywire (2011)
Directed By: Steven Soderbergh
Written By: Lem Dobbs
Genre: ACTION/THRILLER
Time: 93 min
Starring: Gina Carano, Channing tatum, Michael Douglas, Ewan McGregor, Michael Fassbender
Plot: Beautiful freelance covert operative Mallory Kane is hired out by her handler to various global entities to perform jobs which governments can't authorize and heads of state would rather not know about. After a mission to rescue a hostage in Barcelona, Mallory is quickly dispatched on another mission to Dublin. When the operation goes awry and Mallory finds she has been double crossed, she needs to use all of her skills, tricks and abilities to escape an international manhunt, make it back to the United States, protect her family, and exact revenge on those that have betrayed her.

Comments: I like Steven Soderbergh. he has his own style and flair and he does a variety of genres. When I first saw Haywire it looked quite different than Contagion which we rented a few months ago. Granted it also looked a hell of a lot like the Bourne Identity but with a hot chick. no big deal. It also had Michael Fassbender, Ewan McGregor and Michael Douglas as well. Finn and I were psyched for a little grown up Hanna action. Sadly Steven missed the mark in a big way with this one. So lets start with the bad and leave with a high note.

The bad: The script is not good. The dialogue is pretty dismal, Gina Carano seems to have taken Kristen Stewart’s acting classes with her monotone delivery and I didn't think you could make the spy/thriller genre so dull. I guess I was wrong. For one, the pacing was slow, the editing flat and did I mention the bad dialogue so full of pointless pausing that it took out any adrenaline the fight scenes may offer. While I dug the static framing of the fight scenes, the rest of the film seemed so restricted that it removed all of the fun tension out of potentially awesome and thrilling action flick. I also think that the flashback way of storytelling was making things far more confusing than it needed it to be. And while I dug Michael Fassbender and Ewan their characters are as flat as the film. Plus they are just stereotypes (the former lover who wants to kill her, the suave James Bond type spy, The Muscle, the Comedic Relief). But lets move onto the good.



The Good: I actually enjoyed Gina Carano for her fighting skills. And I enjoyed the fight scenes. Finn said she likes her fight scenes with a bit more finesses. I enjoyed the quiet, no seriously this is how it would go down bleakness of it all. Because her day job is as a mixed martial arts champ the fight scenes are believable. Soderbergh said he saw her and wanted to make a film a round her talents kind of the way Tarantino did with stuntwoman goddess Zoe Bell. I can see why. She definitely has presence. She does the fight scenes with ease and while not the most amazing actress Soderbergh made her character Mallory a very detached and cool character which helps make up for that. In a way it works (however the editing slows it down too much and sometimes makes Mallory pretty dull when she isn't kicking the asses of men twice her size).


In the end while I love that Soderbergh made a film with a kick ass female lead, I wanted a bit more than what I got.

Rent/Cinema? Redbox it.

2.75/4 popcorns

Friday, February 17, 2012

NEW SERIES: PART TWO

Winter and Spring bring a whole new array of tv shows for me to thrive on. Since the fall I have let go of a lot of them: Prime Suspect, Two Broke Girls, Ringer, and more. In fact the only ones I have really stuck with are American Horror Story, Revenge and New Girl. Here are my new favorites.




PORTLANDIA: Starring SNL alum Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein, formerly of Sleater-Kinney star in a collection of weekly shorts centered around Portlandia. Currently it airs on IFC.

I am digging the new season of Portlandia. It is too funny and yes I can relate to it far too much. I do live in Bozeman after all where we grow our own food, brew our own beer, hike a lot, have beards and staches aplenty, sew our own clothes and are big on the whole indie craft thing, and think puppies are awesome. It’s kind of like the 1890’s with snow. (those of who who have seen the last couple of episodes are smiling at this description). It really is a great show though and some of the ‘skits’ have included BSG, bad art for good walls, not bringing your bag to the co-op, and has also included stars like Jeff Goldblum, Kristen Wiig, Eddie Vedder and more. It also just makes me want to visit the Pacific Northwest even more despite the sarcasm involved with all things Portlandia.

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


LOST GIRL: Lost Girl is Syfy channel’s newest import from Canada which centers on Bo, a succubus as she learns to control her abilities, discover who she really is and help those in need.

Syfy’s newest import from Canada makes me happy. I like it thus far, Dyson aka Kristen Holden-Reid can be my pickup anytime he wants to be, and it’s really not a bad show thus far. Maybe its because I am a sucker for all things fae though in this case its every monster just divided into light or dark. Admittedly I am totally team Dyson, but thats because Team Lauren hasn't really showed up yet. Also I am a fan of Canadian genre shows: Forever Knight, Highlander, Friday the 13th: the series, VR5, Poltergeist: The Legacy, and Blood Ties to name a few.

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


FACE OFF: Face Off is a competition/elimination series exploring the world of special-effects make-up artists and the unlimited imagination that allows them to create amazing works of living art. The contestants are tasked with elaborate feature challenges including executing full body paint make up on models and creating their own horror villain. Each episode involves incredible reveals of the competitors' finished work, and the drama of one contestant being sent home by the panel of expert and celebrity judges. It all culminates in one winner and one grand prize that will launch a career.

The second season of Syfy’s special effects makeup competition has begun. There are some great contenders this year and then others where I still don’t understand why they are there. The themes have been interesting: re-imagine the Wizard of Oz, create an underwater creature or create a horror movie villain based on a phobia, but I am still waiting for that holy shit they are amazing episode. Still, if I’m going to watch a reality based show I would rather it be this one.

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


THE FADES: Paul, a young man who is haunted by apocalyptic dreams that neither his therapist nor best friend, Mac, can provide answers for. Worse still, Paul is starting to see the Fades – the spirits of the dead – all around him. Though they are everywhere, they can’t be seen, smelt, heard or touched by living beings. But now an embittered and vengeful Fade has found a way to break the barrier between the dead and the living, leaving Paul, Mac and their friends and family caught in the eye of the storm with the fate of humanity resting in their hands.

Supernatural Saturday on BBC America is often hit or miss with me. As a hard core Whovian I have to say hell yes to Doctor Who, Torchwood and Being Human. I am not a fan of Merlin or Primeval, Hex was just fine, Outcasts has me interested and now we have The Fades. I am still waiting for the show to really grab me but I keep watching, interested in where it is going to go and kind of delighted with the unexpected events that keep happening to major players. Plus Mac’s pop culture geeky references keep me happy.

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


DOWNTON ABBEY: Downton Abby - a sprawling, lavish Edwardian mansion and park nestled in the lush North Yorkshire landscape - needs an heir. Dame Maggie Smith turns in a show-stopping performance as Violet, the charmingly stubborn Dowager Countess of Grantham, matriarch of Downton and the irrefutable authority on everything. Hugh Bonneville stars as her son, the stoic, unflappable Earl of Grantham; Elizabeth McGovern plays his far-sighted American wife, Cora; and a star-studded cast round out the glittering, gossipy, and beguiling men and women of this epic tale from Academy Award-winner Julian Fellowes (Gosford Park). After a tragedy at sea claims the life of the presumed heir, Lord Grantham is faced with the possibility that the house he's loved his whole life might someday belong to a distant cousin he's never met. But before he can worry about that he must deal with his scandalous daughter, Lady Mary - considered by many to be the rightful heir to Downton. Even the staff has opinions on the family's affairs. And while most are devoted to those they serve, there are others whose selfishness and scheming do more than simply disrupt the well-oiled inner workings of the estate. As the servants' mischief escalates, even the most faithful employees begin to imagine a different life.


I love PBS and Masterpiece Theatre to pieces. This year Downton Abbey has returned. I still love the costumes and the drama. It makes me giddy really. This year we’ve had the war, loves and losses, and more love for Dame Maggie Smith. While not as engaging as the first season, I still love it.

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


HOUSE OF LIES: A new series from Showtime about management consultants. The job is described as impossible to describe, but the general idea is that they're con artists who make troubled corporations dependent on their own company's advice. As legend-in-his-field Marty Kaan (Don Cheadle) puts it, the goal is to "make them think they can't live without us .... while we infect the host and bleed them dry." It stars Don Cheadle and Kristen Bell

I like House of Lies because it reminds me of Thank You For Smoking. The lead characters are your antiheroes who dress to the nines, spend far too much time on airplanes and in airport lounges, and explain their not so nice jobs to the audience with each episode. But they also have private lives that either make them more sympathetic or make us want to hit them with a brick. There is a lot of humor and I am a sucker for anything Kristen Bell is because I was a huge Veronica Mars fan. It is also created by Matthew Carnahan who did “Dirt” with Courtney Cox which I also kind of dug.

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


THE RIVER: Famed explorer Dr. Emmet Cole went looking for magic deep in the uncharted Amazon and never returned. The shocking truth about his disappearance is out there, somewhere, just waiting to be discovered. To the millions of kids who grew up watching his nature show, Dr. Cole was a hero. To his own son, Lincoln, he was more of an enigma. Now, six months after he vanished, Lincoln is finally ready to bury the past when Dr. Cole’s emergency beacon suddenly goes off. At the urging of his mother, Tess, Lincoln reluctantly joins her on a search for his father. To fund the rescue, they agree to let Dr. Cole’s cagey ex-producer, Clark, film the mission documentary-style. The mixed crew of old friends and new acquaintances includes the sexy and resourceful Lena (Eloise Mumford), loyal mechanic Emilio and lethal bodyguard Captain Kurt Brynildson.

After watching Chronicle and kind of digging the new craze of found footage stuff, I decided to catch The River brought to us by the same man who has done Paranormal Activity. Its kind of set up to be a monster of the week episodic mini-series, but I am okay with that. I even had a horrible twisted dream of the tree of dolls because lets face it that was just creepy. Lately its been my fave show to watch in the dark, the way I did with American Horror Story.

Other Shows that have held my interest are The Nerdist because Duh, Alcatraz and my guilty pleasure of Spartacus: Vengeance. What shows have captured your interest in the past couple of months? Have you liked any of the ones I have mentioned?

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Tuesday Trailers: Snow White

While it is still hard for me to suspend my disbelief that Kristen Stewart is more fair than Charlize frakking Theron, this looks like such a pretty film. And I am also a sucker for anything fairytale. One to watch this summer I am afraid. What do you think?



Thursday, February 9, 2012

The Stupidest Angel

The Stupidest Angel

Written by: Christopher Moore

Hardcover: 306 pages

Publisher: William Morrow

Language: English

November 2005, $15.99

Genre: Fiction/Humor

‘Twas the night (okay, more like the week) before Christmas, and all through the tiny community of Pine Cove, California, people are busy buying, wrapping, packing, and generally getting into the holiday spirit. But not everybody is feeling the joy. Little Joshua Barker is in desperate need of a holiday miracle. No, he’s not on his deathbed; no, his dog hasn’t run away from home. But Josh is sure that he saw Santa take a shovel to the head, and now the seven year old has only one prayer: Please Santa, come back from the dead. But hold on! There’s an angel waiting in the wings (Wings, get it?) It’s none other than the Archangel Raziel come to Earth seeking a small child with a wish that needs granting. Unfortunately, our angel’s not sporting the brightest halo of the bunch, and before you can say Kris Kringle, he’s botched his sacred mission and sent the residents of Pine Cove headlong into Christmas chaos, culminating in the most hilarious and horrifying holiday party the town has ever seen. 



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

I am not a huge fan of the holidays. Personally I think that we should go from Halloween straight to New Years, but this is probably due to a broken wrist, lock of money (I absolutely love to buy people presents), my family being very far away, and the fact that it is Winter in Montana. This year I have admittedly been in a bit of a funk. So I decided to pick up Christopher Moore. He makes me laugh and it was Tis the Season so the Stupidest Angel it was. Plus anything with the subtitle of A Heartwarming Tale of Christmas Terror is kind of an immediate read. Its kind of like watching the horrible film Santa Slay with James Caan and Chris Cattan (anyone who has seen it late night during the Christmas season understands this). Plus zombies make everything better especially if it is Santa zombie (who was totally at the Zombie Walk this year). I am also a big fan of Christopher Moore, my favorite book being Lamb: The Gospel according to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal. Moore has the irreverent and the bizarre down pat. In a way he reminds me of Terry Pratchett, whom I like a bit better, which is saying some thing.

The Stupidest Angel takes place during the festive Holiday season in the peaceful little town of Pine Cove where the constable has a pot crop out back, his wife is a former Xena like actress with mental health issues, and oh yeah Santa Claus just got murdered as far as little Josh is concerned. Not exactly the way to start Christmas, so Josh prays for Santa not to be dead. Sadly, the angel who hears his little prayer doesn't have the brightest halo of the bunch and so because he isn't sure where Santa was buried raises a small army of the undead who are fed up with the living just in time to crash the Town Christmas Party.

Things I loved: I loved seeing all of my favorite characters from previous Moore novels (Roberto the Fruit bat, Raziel, Theo and more most notably from Lamb, Practical Demonkeeping, Island of the Sequined Lovenun and The Lust Lizard of Melancholy Cove) especially Roberto. What can I say he is the cutest little fruit bat ever. With Raybans.

Just then the doors flew open, the wind whipped into the room carrying with it a horrid stench. Standing there, framed in the cathedral doorway, stood Santa Claus, holding Brian Henderson in his red Star Trek shirt, by the throat. A group of dark figures were moving behind them, moaning something about IKEA, as Santa pressed a .38 snub-nose revolver to Brian's temple and pulled the trigger. Blood spattered across the front wall and Santa threw the body back to Marty in the Morning, who began to suck the brains of out dead Brian's exit wound.

"Merry Christmas, you doomed sons' a bitches!" said Santa.


See that is why I liked the book. Between that and the first chapter when it described the town decorating for the holidays as being tarted up like a prom queen. Anything that describes Christmas as "threatening festive doom like a cold sore under the mistletoe," kind of makes me love it. You cannot help but like the utter wackiness of Moore’s books. They are absurd but completely hilarious in all the right ways.

Some of my favorite scenes were the high speed chase of a Christmas tree, the dialogue between the deceased before they started craving brains, mentions of Star Trek red shirts, digs at a lot of stores and industries, and the gifts that Theo and Molly give one another. There are not many books that can make me laugh out loud and this one completely uplifted my holiday spirits. Anything that can do that deserves a shiny gold star.

Things I didn't love so much: Sometimes all of the jokes don’t work, but the same can be said for Saturday Night Live. And you have to be in the right mood to read something like this. But I think I am always in the mood.

Buy or Borrow: Borrow.

Part of: A Standalone. Though it does incorporate many characters from previous novels, you wont have to have read them to enjoy this. 



Also Recommended: The films Zombieland and Shaun of the Dead. For more humor please try Lamb also by Moore, anything by Terry Pratchett though it is more on the fantasy side and authors like David Sedaris.

3.5 out of 4 happy bibliosnark bookmarks


The Soundtrack for this Post: Daughter by Pearl Jam, Generosity by MIrah, For You by Nerf Herder and My Favorite Game by the Cardigans (this is what I get for Itunes DJ mixes)

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Tuesday Trailers: Chronicle





Found footage is the new trend in Hollywood, but sometimes it looks like it can be done right. Kind of a modern day Akira, but looks kind of wicked.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Every Boy's Got One

Every Boy’s Got One

Written by: Meg Cabot

Paperback: 272 pages

Publisher: Pan Macmillan

Language: English

February 2005, $9.99

Genre: Fiction/Romance/Chick Lit


Cartoonist Jane Harris is delighted by the prospect of her first ever trip to Europe. But its hate at first sight for Jane and Cal Langdon, and neither is too happy at the prospect of sharing a villa with one another for a week – not even in the beautiful and picturesque Le Marche countryside. But when Holy and Mark’s wedding plans hit a major snag that only Cal and Jane can repair, the two find themselves having to put aside their mutual dislike for one another in order to get their best friends on the road to wedded bliss – and end up on a road themselves…one neither of them expected.

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

As a whole I’m not really a huge fan of the genre called chick lit. That being said I also don’t really go to romantic comedies in the theater either. Which is funny because I really am a die hard romantic. But rom coms are the same almost everywhere: boy meets girl, quirks arise but so does love, lovely bliss but then one of them does something stupid or a complication arises, and finally happily ever after. The names change as do the little subplots, but as I said they are generally a bit the same. There are a few who choose to change it up a a bit or bring something new to the table (I like those ones), but it is rare. The chick lit genre seems to be bodice ripper lite. The heaving bosoms, paperback romance Fabios, and thin plot lies seem to be replaced with wit, modern sensibilities, and a lot of fluff. This is not necessarily a bad thing though. Yes I am the kind of girl that prefers blazing guns, thrills and even gore over smoochie smoochies, but I would also be lying if I said I didn't dip into the cotton candy genre every now and again. As long as you know what you are getting into, you cannot complain when it turns out to be exactly that. 



Sometimes you need a cotton candy fix as I said. Its light, airy, you don’t have to think too hard, its sweet, entertaining and yet forgettable soon after you are done. The same can be said about certain big movie blockbusters that I totally pay for. They are all guilty pleasures but that doesn't make them bad. They are just not Oscar winners or Books of the Year. Now I have read Meg Cabot before, but the YA series she has done (The Mediator series and Missing series). Felling in a bit of a genre rut and wanting to read outside the boxes, I decided to give this a go. How bad could it be right?

Jane Harris, cartoonist of Wondercat, is excited to be going to Europe with her best friend Holly and her soon to be elopement partner in crime Mark. Italy is incredibly romantic and Jane is more than excited. Unfortunately you need a best man/2nd witness as well as this means that Mark’s best friend Cal Langdon will be going as well. It is loathing at first sight for Cal and Jane. While Jane is more than happy to see Holly and Mark get married, Cal thinks it is insane and openly states his lack of trust in love and marriage as a whole. Plus despite being a supermodel dating, award wining journalist he apparently has never heard of her comic strip which is about to optioned for Cartoon Network. Unfolding through a series of journal entries, texts, emails, etc, the story is full of one adventure after another on the road to wedded bliss and loathing turned to attraction.

Things I loved: It was a quick fun read and as my expectations weren't high and lofty, it did meet those. I haven't really read any of Meg Cabot’s adult work and this filled the cotton candy fix that I was craving. One of the things I liked was the modern epistolary romance. While yes it is a bit difficult to believe that the characters are handwriting, texting, emailing everything even while conversations are going on, it was kind of cute and clever. Its one of those quirks that you forgive I suppose.

I loved some of the secondary characters like Jane’s teenage fan or the emails from parents of both Holly and Mark. I also loved the travelogue quality which is to be expected since Meg had her own version of the story when she got married some years ago. And while yes it was fluffy and full of fairly one dimensional characters it was exactly what I expected it to be. Of course this doesn't mean that I cant be a little disappointed, which brings me to....

Things I didn't love so much: While I knew that our leads loathing would turn to love, that transition didn't work for me. It was a bit too quick and I found it hard to suspend my disbelief (yes I did it for all of the texting, writing, etc) because of how forced it seemed. Also Jane annoyed the crap out of me. No girl can be that vapid. Sure I love discussing my geeky loves more than I do politics, it however does not mean that I am completely clueless to the world beyond my own personal space. Sure we can discuss Revenge or Fringe or why the Hunger Games movie is probably going to ruin my favorite trilogy of books, but I can also go beyond that. Jane was a shoe obsessed woman that is so stereotypical, then again so was Cal (the tortured, wounded in love jet-setter who needs a good normal woman to sweep him off his feet). But seriously we are supposed to believe that Jane is a successful cartoonist? Instead she was an airhead who spent all of her time obsessed with romance, fashion and makes the worst assumptions about people. Really? That is the modern woman? She is one jumble of feminine stereotypes which is frustrating because I found myself loathing her. But what was I expecting, a sweeping love story that was all about a romance and character development than it was anything else. No. I knew what I was getting into and yet I cannot help but wish there was more to it.

Buy or Borrow: Borrow.

Part of: A series. The Boy Series

Book One: The Boy Next Door

Book Two: Boy Meets Girl

Book Three: Every Boy’s Got One



Also Recommended: I enjoyed Austenland by Shannon Hale. Other authors to recommend are Sophie Kinsella, and Helen Fielding. For Meg Cabot I would recommend her Mediator series which I still like.

2.5 out of 4 happy bibliosnark bookmarks


The Soundtrack for this Post: Oceans by Puscifer, A Thousand Years by Christina Perri, Lost and Found by Katie Herzig and Gimme Sympathy by Metric.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Songbook


Songbook

Written by: Nick Hornby

Paperback: 207 pages

Publisher: Riverhead Trade

Language: English

October 2003, $14.99

Genre: Non Fiction/Essays


"All I have to say about these songs is that I love them, and want to sing along to them, and force other people to listen to them, and get cross when these other people don't like them as much as I do"
-Nick Hornby

What interests Nick Hornby? Songs, songwriters, everything, compulsively, passionately. Here is his ultimate list of 31 all-time favorite songs. And here are his smart, funny, and very personal essays about them, written with all the love and care of a perfectly mastered mixed tape...


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

“A couple of times a year I make myself a tape to play in the car, a tape full of all the new songs I’ve loved over the previous few months, and every time I finish one I can’t believe that there’ll be another. Yet there always is, and I can’t wait for the next one; you only need a few hundred more things like that, and you’ve got a life worth living.”
— Nick Hornby

As a pop-culture geektress I am a big fan of music. FOr a very long time I have been of the firm belief that there is a song for every moment and every occasion. I am fairly eclectic in my tastes and my musical library consists of everything from Bowie to the Beatles, Aimee Mann to Patsy Cline and Muse to Puscifer. Always heavy in rotation are soundtracks because I love scores and also because there us usually a nice variety of tunage within a soundtrack. I also rely heavily on other people’s mixes that are given to me as most radio stations just play the same music over and over again and here in Bozeman even the college station doesn't play my usual tunage.

I always find it interesting discovering another person’s musical tastes, what songs move them, and what musical genres they abhor. i am one of those people that look on itunes for the celebrity playlists as I am always curious to see what they love. And often I have found at least one or two artists or songs that I cannot live without. I know in my own life there were and still are songs that make me think, songs that take me straight back to a particular time and place, and songs that have helped me through a certain stage in my life. Music like my books have been a constant companion and I think that I would be a little lost without it. Even now as I write this post I have itunes dj playing in the background (I’ll post the soundtrack at the end)

Now Nick Hornby wrote a book that has music at its forefront: High Fidelity. Its one of my favorite books and despite the differences one of my fave films as well. Songbook is a collection of essays on 31 songs and 15 albums. The topics range from Nelly Furtado and pop music, to Los Lobos, Aimee Mann and the Boss himself. Now these aren’t reviews of albums, though admittedly sometimes that happens, it’s Hornby’s celebration of music and how each song and each album has affected his life.

Things I loved: As I have said before I am a huge Nick Hornby fan from his books to his collaborations with Ben Folds in the music industry (love ‘From Above’). McSweeney’s commissioned Hornby to write about his favorite songs and that is exactly what he did. It isn't about music criticism and he is hardly the elitist snobs that are in High Fidelity when it comes to music. Its personal and he talks about his career and even his autistic son (the reason why Gregory Isaacs’ reggae cover of Puff the Magic Dragon is so important is one of the best in here). He also talks about inspiration for High Fidelity, why pop songs aren’t the devil and how music has changed over the years. While I wasn't familiar with all the artists when I was done, I went and looked them up and am glad I did. Whether he meant to or not, it was a bit like Nick Hornby’s mixtape to me.

I also understand how music can spur you. How one song can make you want to run or create or just sit down for some much needed me time. I understand how you want music to change the world and how newer bands with fabricated everything are a bit annoying. And I also understand how sometimes a song fits you so perfectly you wonder if the artist wrote it just for you. 

“…mostly all I have to say about these songs is that I love them, and want to sing along with them, and force other people to listen to them, and get cross when these other people don’t like them as much as I do.” Isn't this what we all do?

Things I didn't love so much: There wasn't much I didn't like about this collection of essays. While I didn't always agree with his musical loves or even some of his exploration on music, that is to be expected. I know there are quite a few people who would look at my musical collection and scratch their heads. That is the great thing about music, there is a lot of it out there and there is something for everyone.

In the end it wasn't the best thing I have read in the past year or the past decade. This is not because it was poorly written or I didn't enjoy the subject matter, but didn't capture me completely which is ok. It’s not a book that is headed to the library or the Used Book Barn, but for me something was missing to make it truly awesome. I did get some insight into one of my favorite authors and picked up some music in the end as well. So there is that.

Buy or Borrow: Buy. If you are a music fan and also one of Hornbys...its worth picking up.

Part of: Standalone.

Also Recommended: I would recommend High Fidelity also by Hornby.

3.5 out of 4 happy bibliosnark bookmarks


The Soundtrack for this Post: Barely Listening by Pilot Speed , Live and Let Die by Duffy, Touched by Vast, Release the Stars by Rufus Wainwright, Spider pig by Hans Zimmer (from the Simpsons movie) and Your Protector by Fleet Foxes. (ooh I may have to do this now...my mix-tapes to all of you)

Friday, February 3, 2012

Origin In Death

Origin In Death

Written by: JD Robb

Hardcover: 347 pages

Publisher: Berkley

Language: English

January 2006, $24.99

Genre: Crime/Thriller/In Death series (#21)


"New York Police Lieutenant Eve Dallas and her partner Peabody enter the hallowed halls of the Wilfred B. Icove Center for Reconstructive and Cosmetic Surgery on a case. A hugely popular vid star has been beaten to a bloody pulp – and has killed her attacker in the process. After a post-op interview, Dallas and Peabody confirm for themselves that it’s a clear cut case of self-defense, but before they can leave the building, another case falls into their hands. Dr. Wilfred B Icove himself has been found dead in his office – murdered in a chillingly efficient manner: one swift stab to the heart. Struck by the immaculate condition of the crime scene, Dallas suspects a professional killing. Security discs show a stunningly beautiful woman calmly entering and leaving the building: the good doctors final appointment. Known as “Dr Perfect” the saintly Icove devoted his life to his family and his work. His record is clean. Too clean for Dallas. She knows he was hiding something, and suspects that his son, his successor, knows what it is. Then – like father, like son – the young Dr. Icove is killed…with the same deadly precision. But who is the mystery woman, and what was her relationship with the good doctor? With her husband, Roarke, working behind the scenes, Dallas follows her darkest instincts into the Icoves’ pasts. And what she discovers are men driven to create perfection – playing fast and loose with the laws of nature, the limits of science, and the morals of humanity.

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

I have been reading the “In Death” series by JD Robb for about a decade now after picking up a couple of paperbacks at a garage sale. It was a while before I learned that my favorite thriller novelist was none other than Nora Roberts (I felt the same way when I discovered Elizabeth Peters was Barbara Michaels), but I couldn't begrudge her for being a best selling romance novelist. The thriller/mystery genre is not my favorite though what I have read has made me quite happy.

Its 2059 and Thanksgiving in New York City for Lt Eve Dallas. Even as her husband plans a Thanksgiving feast that neither of them will soon forget, Eve finds herself at the Wilfred B Icove Center for Reconstructive and Cosmetic Surgery on a case. What Eve and her partner Peabody do not expect to find is the good doctor dead in his own plush office, a scalpel plunged into his heart. When a mysterious and beautiful woman shows up on the security disks leaving the scene of the crime Eve and Peabody find themselves following a trail that leads to genetic manipulation and how people strive for absolute perfection.

Things I loved: One reason I love the In Death series is largely due to the setting. Set in the near future (near being 50 years from now) each book is like a futuristic CSI with a great leading lady and one hell of a dashing billionaire and former thief husband. I get the best of both worlds: a little romance and a lot of mystery and thrills. What is not to like? Plus having the series set in the future works like the hour long crime drama. Instead of waiting days, weeks, or months for the story to forensically progress, the future’s technology helps solve the crimes and bring out the suspects which moves the pacing along nicely. HOwever, the great thing about Dallas is that she usually knows who did it and the story then becomes a matter of proving it.

Even after 25 books I don’t know how Robb/Roberts does it. I’m still not bored with the series. In this outing I like the questions posed. Its not hard to believe that the perfect being is being bred and created out there for both the rich and as a weapon. It may be a little sci-fi, but hardly implausible when you really think about it.

I love Roarke of course, who wouldn’t? But my favorite characters are Peabody and McNab, Mira and Mavis. I also love the world that has been created. Its a world of hoverlifts, holorooms, Autochefs and licensed companions. The technology is tops and yet people still murder each other. though seriously Eve has the best solved case rate ever.

Things I didn't love so much: I wanted to see the aftermath of this story and the local and national fallout of it all. The implications are huge and I cannot imagine that Eve wont receive a lot of attention for it. I also wanted to see Thanksgiving dinner because lets face it a meal with Roarke’s newly discovered family along with Mavis and everyone else we have grown to love would have been priceless.

I will say that while I have loved to see Roarke and Eve grow as a couple to that of a married one or even watch Peabody earn her stripes and go from assistant to Detective, I want the progression to speed up. This doesn't mean I want to see Eve barefoot and pregnant as Robb/Roberts has famously said that though it is eventual, Eve’s pregnancy would end the series as a whole. I do want o see Eve begin to deal with her past more and I want Roarke and Eve to get out of the dear god I cant get enough of you, you complete me phase of their relationship to something more playful or perhaps something a bit more realistic. Or hell I want them to fight for more than five minutes or show that every relationship takes time and effort and sometimes it isn't easy, especially when you have two damaged souls. I love that they found one another and balance each other out, but I want more. I feel like in this respect the series is getting a little repetitive when it comes to the romance/sex bits even in the scenes and language that is used. It always just so dramatic and serious.

Buy or Borrow: Buy. I have the rest of them, but I also think that this is a great place for someone new to the series to start as well.

Part of: A series. “In Death”

Naked in Death
Glory in Death
Immortal in Death
Rapture in Death
Ceremony in Death
Vengeance in Death
Holiday in Death
Midnight in Death, Silent Night Anthology
Conspiracy in Death
Loyalty in Death
Witness in Death
Judgment in Death
Betrayal in Death
Interlude in Death, Out of this World Anthology
Seduction in Death
Reunion in Death
Purity in Death
Portrait in Death
Imitation in Death
Remember When with Nora Roberts
Two-part book: the first part is a present-day Nora Roberts story which sets up the back story for the second part, which features Eve Dallas and has been republished as Big Jack
Divided in Death
Visions in Death
Survivor in Death
Origin in Death
Memory in Death
Haunted in Death, Bump in the Night Anthology
Born in Death
Innocent in Death
Eternity in Death, Dead of Night Anthology
Creation in Death
Strangers in Death
Ritual in Death, Suite 606 Anthology
Salvation in Death
Promises in Death
Kindred in Death
Missing in Death, The Lost Anthology
Fantasy in Death
Indulgence in Death
Possession in Death, The Other Side Anthology
Treachery in Death
New York to Dallas
Chaos in Death, The Unquiet Anthology
Celebrity in Death (Feb. 21, 2012)

Also Recommended: Of course I would recommend the rest of the series as it is quite good. For romance/thriller authors Elizabeth Peters/Barbara Michaels does a great Amelia Peabody series which is set in Egypt for the most part.

3.25 out of 4 happy bibliosnark bookmarks


The Soundtrack for this Post: Extraordinary Way by Conjure One, The Golden Path by Brian Tyler (From Children of Dune), Dr Evil by They Might Be Giants and Code Red by Tori Amos.