Thursday, November 29, 2012

Not Really a Review: Red Rain

I'm giving up on this book. Let me tell you why. I got about 110 pages in, finished "Part 1" and began "Part 2". I had a few problems with the writing style of the first segment, but not enough that I would have stopped, had I been enjoying the story (um... "Twilight", anyone?), but there are a few things that I just couldn't get over.

First, often when a writer transitions from writing for kids to writing for adults, they feel the need to toss in "adult" lingo. I didn't read far enough to get too much, but the single incident of the protagonist's husband oogling his assistant's... um... "t-word"s (yes, the author chose that word) was just plain annoying. The oogling I get, the using such a crude, childish word by a supposedly educated character was just silly.

Second, the story seemed (and I could be wrong here, since I didn't finish it) to be headed in the direction of a child demon who kills other children. I don't care for that, so I'm stopping before Stine has a chance to really piss me off. Children in peril are not my favorite storyline, so I tend to steer clear when that looks like the story.

Third, I just don't care about the characters. Lea, the main protagonist of Part 1, is self-centered, immature and unlikeable. Her husband is annoying and the newly introduced ominously beautiful orphan twins that Lea brings home without any adult thought or real-world legal process are spooky from the get-go, and come from a cursed island. A set-up with some potential, but I don't want to read about kids hurting or killing other kids, especially innocent ones like Lea and Mark's two kids and their baby nephew.

If you loved Stine's "Goosebumps" books when you were young, you will probably like this. I was never a big fan of his writing, so maybe that's my problem right there. Too bad. I was in the mood for something scary. 

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Book Review: "Who Could That Be At This Hour?

I will read anything by the incomparable Lemony Snicket. I find his dark flavor and unique writing style charming and I relish his signature linguistic humor, especially his twisty definitions. For example:

"What happens in a certain place can stain your feelings for that location, just as ink can stain a white sheet. You can wash it, and wash it, and still never forget what has transpired - a word which here means 'happened, and made everybody sad'." 

For those who may not know, Lemony Snicket is the pen name for American novelist Daniel Handler. Be that as it may, I still hear his books in a British accent in my head as I read them. Makes me wonder if he hears British while he writes... The signature face-hidden-from-the-camera photos of Snicket are like a little humorous bonus at the end of each book. I love running gags and visual humor and especially clever usage of language. As such, I was so excited when I saw there was a new Snicket book out. I highly recommend you check out the site for the book located here. Too funny. I adore glib, cheeky, dark chuckles.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Wreck-It Ralph: A Review of Sorts

My three youngest children went with their uncle Dave and their younger cousins to see "Wreck-It Ralph" on Wednesday and came home praising it and saying how much they loved it. Adam, 16, said I had to go see it and that I would just love it. Ben, 13, said that I would cry at the end. To which Adam said, "Well, that's not saying much; she cries at every movie." (Which is almost true.)They all enjoyed it, including Katie, 10, who said it was hilarious and they told us that the rest of us should go see it in theater for sure. So we did. Kriss and our oldest, Jonah, 17, went tonight. 

The movie begins strong, with the bad guys in a support group meeting, and there are some funny lines and good sight gags. When Ralph leaves his game and begins an adventure, I thought we would see what happened as he moved in and out of lots of games. Unfortunately, Ralph (and the movie) gets stuck in a game called "Sugar Rush" where adorable little girl avatars race around a "Candyland"-esque world. The story stalls badly (no pun intended) and I quickly lost interest. The little girl that Ralph gets entagled with (she steals his medal, he wants it back... yawn...) is cute, but obnoxious and their sometimes potty-humor-laced banter isn't as funny to me as it would be to a 10-12 year old kid. 

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Celebrity Sighting!! Run Away!!!

'Twas the day before Thanksgiving
And all through the town
Everybody went shopping
At WalMart in Tooele.

Including George Lopez. 

Yep. That George Lopez.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Book Review: Variant

I started out thinking "Variant" by Robison Wells is yet another teens-in-peril at the hands of unknown, unseen, wicked-evil adults YA novel. Which, to be fair, it is. It's the first of... I don't know... a trilogy? Maybe. And the sole reason I gave this book a look is because Robison's brother, Dan, is among my favorite authors. His John Cleaver books are soooo good.

That's reason enough to give his brother a chance, yes? The beginning of "Variant" reminded me a lot of James Dashner's "The Maze Runner", featuring a group of teens isolated from the world in a compound of some kind, unable to leave and forced to comply with strange rules and activities without any real explanations. "Variant" is set in a school in New Mexico, and the first-person character of Benson is likeable, if not loveable. He's incredibly well adjusted, intelligent and self-aware, considering he's spent most of his life bouncing from one foster family to another, and he copes better than the average teen would with what happens.

Book Review Copy & Paste: I am Not a Serial Killer

I just realized I never posted a review of one of my favorite books on this blog, so I'm dropping it in here before my next post goes up today. Copied and pasted from my review on Goodreads:

I liked this book even better the second time. Creepy, thrilling, exciting, enthralling and addicting. I can't wait to start the second book tomorrow!! Wells is a great author. I sympathized with John, even though he has tendencies toward violent thoughts and thinks he could, potentially, become a killer. His honest, brutal self-analysis is fascinating and heartbreaking. I especially loved his character's development at the end of the story.

While I don't have murderous tendencies, the heartfelt winding of John's story helped me to really understand him and to feel a connection to him that I didn't expect. His relationships with his mother, aunt, sister and lone friend are fascinating, and the way he solves the whodonit in town and, ultimately, triumphs over his inner demons and the one killing townsfolk is a unique story, mixing a little sci-fi or fantasy (or whatever genre has such things as demons) with mystery and thriller-style storytelling. I loved that the author told us very early on who the killer was, and the remaining story delved into psychology and the adventure of John setting out to stop him. Good stuff.

I increased my rating, and that's saying something. This is a fantastic book, maybe not for the faint-hearted, but the language is clean and there is no "adult" material. It is gruesome and downright creepy, though.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Book Review: The Cutting Season

"The Cutting Season" by Attica Locke is a decent stand-alone novel. There's murder, history, intrigue, politics, complicated family relationships and much more. This is the synopsis from Goodreads:

"The American South in the twenty-first century. A plantation owned for generations by a rich family. So much history. And a dead body.

Just after dawn, Caren walks the grounds of Belle Vie, the historic plantation house in Louisiana that she has managed for four years. Today she sees nothing unusual, apart from some ground that has been dug up by the fence bordering the sugar can fields. Assuming an animal has been out after dark, she asks the gardener to tidy it up. Not long afterwards, he calls her to say it's something else. Something terrible. A dead body. At a distance, she missed her. The girl, the dirt and the blood. Now she has police on site, an investigation in progress, and a member of staff no one can track down. And Caren keeps uncovering things she will wish she didn't know. As she's drawn into the dead girl's story, she makes shattering discoveries about the future of Belle Vie, the secrets of its past, and sees, more clearly than ever, that Belle Vie, its beauty, is not to be trusted."

Monday, November 12, 2012


James Bond hasn't looked so good since Sean Connery. Truly. Daniel Craig returns for his third Bond film, continuing from about where "Quantum of Solace" left off- moving the story forward from where it began (again) in "Casino Royale".
The opening credits of "Skyfall", which opened last weekend, have a distinct "Bond-esque" feel, including the mirror images melding together in the center (psychedelic!) and nude silhouetted women and some very cool sequences under water. However... they went on very long for a modern movie, and I'm not terribly sold on Adele's theme song. I'm not a big Adele fan anyway, and the simplistic lyrics of this song didn't win me over, though the haunting music did seem to fit the footage. Here, judge for yourself:

Sunday, November 11, 2012

And That's How to Cast a Musical!

My family loves to get together and watch movies and then have in-depth discussions about the casting, direction, plot, music, etc. Other people (ahem... in-laws) don't always appreciate or participate in these discussions, but we love it. These discussions are fun, lively and usually punctuated with lots of laughter. I am very blessed. 

Tonight we watched the new Blu-Ray release of an old family favorite, "Little Shop of Horrors", starring Rick Moranis and Ellen Greene. If you're not familiar with this one, it's an old story, with an old black-and-white non-musical film version (from 1960, I think) about an alien plant that comes to earth, convinces an unassuming gardener to feed it blood and proceeds to take over the Earth. It's campy, cheesy, goofy and loads of fun. 
Rick Moranis and Audrey II

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Book Review: A Wise Man's Fear

This is the second book in the "Kingkiller Chronicles" trilogy by Patrick Rothfuss
It's a crying shame to have such a charming and intriguing character as Kvothe wasting as much time as he did in this book. The editors should have cut most of the Fae scene (sexual content alert!) and there were a few chapters later on that I skipped. SKIPPED! Not skimmed, not passed sections of, but I skipped them. It was after some potentially important stuff happened with the Ademre people, and Kvothe was just traveling along and the story stopped being interesting. I got bored. I wanted to get back to the good stuff... so I skipped ahead.

It is worth reading this one so you can finish the trilogy (assuming the final book is worth the trouble), and there are some very good scenes here, some character development, and some new people worth knowing, but mostly... it's just a tease. We've gotten attached to Kvothe (though I still can't pronounce his name comfortably...) and we want to see how he gets his vengeance on the Chandrian, so we keep reading... even the over-written parts.

I'm ranting a tad, eh?

It's good. My recommendation is moderate. If you liked the first book, you'll probably read this one and maybe you can let me know what you thought.