Friday, September 29, 2017

Friday Flicks: The Dark Tower

The Dark Tower
Rating ★★★★

What It's About
Another Stephen King book made into a movie. There's a magical tower that holds the universe together. Roland, a Gunslinger, is sworn to protect the tower and The Man In Black is determined to destroy it. There's a prophecy that a child's mind is the only thing that can destroy the tower so, of course, The Man In Black is kidnapping kids from different universes and trying to use them. But he needs to find THE kid. Enter the plucky but tormented Jake, who's been plagued with dreams and visions of the Tower and The Man In Black since his father died. Jake's mom is at her wits end and, wanting to help, has decided to send Jake off to a type of "psychiatric camp" for troubled kids. Little does she know that the people who run the camp are actually working for The Man In Black and she's sending her kid to his doom. Taking matters into his own hands, Jake discovers a portal to another realm where he finds Roland and the two join forces to the stop The Man In Black.

I actually saw this movie some time ago. I wanted to review it on here but was trying to keep up with the latest movies so I figured I'd just have to skip a review. However, I was out of town this weekend and didn't go see a movie with my husband this week so I'm using this opportunity to review this one. And I'm happy I get to review it because. I really liked it.

Full disclosure. I have not read the books this movie is based on. I tell you this because I could tell just from watching it and without researching it that the book fans were going to HATE this movie. And I think it's safe to say they did. I, however, had nothing to compare it to and while I thought some parts were maybe a little hokey, it was a very fun, entertaining film.

Newer star Idris Elba did a good job of being a serious, kick ass hero who managed a few comedic moments with his younger co-actor beautifully.

While, I almost didn't see the movie because they cast McConaughey as the villain, (sorry, not sorry) I didn't mind him as much as I thought I would. I expected to find him annoying and doing his usual overacting theatrics but he wasn't too bad. I still

thought he had too much screen time but all in all found him tolerable.

I haven't seen the young kid that played Jake in anything else, I don't think, and I really liked him. He did a great job of being tormented, funny and the unwilling hero.I was impressed.

The story was a fun fantasy that now has me interested in the books. So if nothing else, the book readers who hated the movie benefit from this one because now those of us who've seen it want to read the books. Now they'll have more fans in their club, right?

Let's Talk
Strange topic but what are your feelings on McConaughey? The man drives me nuts. I used to like him but now I think he's only typecast in movies and can NOT get rid of that western slang no matter what role he's playing.

See it in theaters.

Stay tuned for the last few seconds of this trailer. It's worth it. ;)

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Review: The Red Notebook

Title The Red Notebook
By Antoine Laurain
Genre Adult Contemporary Romance
Rating ⭐️⭐️

Laurent finds a handbag in the garbage on the street. There's no way to know who the bag belongs to but there are other things. Things that intrigue Laurent enough to search for the owner.

First Sentence
The taxi had dropped her on the corner of the boulevard.

I'd heard good things about this one and thought it sounded cute and romantic so when I saw it available on audio book I decided to give it a listen.

And it was cute and romantic but it was short. Really short. And there was absolutely zero conflict. The author is french and maybe they don't do conflict but I just didn't feel at all invested in the outcome of the story. It was just like hearing a cute little story of how two people met. So...I guess that's OK but it felt just a little too light for me.

Should you read it
If you don't mind the whole lack of conflict then, sure, go ahead.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Review: Furiously Happy

Title Furiously Happy
By Jenny Lawson
Genre Non Fiction memoir
Rating ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Jenny explores her battle with mental illness, depression and a myriad of other issues that should make her anything but furiously happy.

First Sentence
"You're not crazy. STOP CALLING YOURSELF CRAZY," my mom says for the eleventy billionth time.

Whether my book club has decided to read this one or not I definitely would have picked it up. I've heard too many people rave about this one and how can you turn down a book that's described as a funny book about horrible things? You can't. And I didn't.

And it's exactly that. A book that had me laughing so hard tears were streaming down my face and sad at all the author had to deal with.

I feel like I can't even begin to compare my self to the author...and I don't...but I think we all have times when we're depressed, some more than others, and it does make you feel better knowing you're not alone.

I adored this one because it made me laugh and made me felt understood. I loved that the author was so honest with us about her problems. But mostly I loved how the author made me see how we all take things way too seriously. It's OK to have fun and look at life in a more cheery manner.

Should you read it?

Friday, September 22, 2017

Friday Flicks: Mother!

Title Mother!
Rating ★★

What It's About
Depends on who you ask. We have a young woman in an isolated house with her husband. We're to understand there was a fire there and she's been renovating the house to it's original glory. A stranger shows up and for reasons unknown to us or the young woman, the husband allows the man to stay with them. Then the man's wife shows up and she decides to stay too. Obviously the woman is a bit flustered. Then things get really weird.

The preview for this one is very misleading. It leads you to believe that this movie is a horror movie. It's not long before you realize it's not. Although it is a bit horrific. Sadly, I was bored out of my mind for this one. It was fun listening to the sold out theater muttering things like, "what the hell is going on?" and "wait? what?". My husband turned to me at some point and and said, "do you know what's going on?"

After the movie was over everyone was talking about it. Why? The movie is not a story about a young woman and her husband and some very rude house guests. It's symbolic...the whole thing is an analogy. And yes, I did know what was going on....mostly. I'm not being arrogant. My dad was obsessed with symbolism so I can usually see it.

Then the question becomes do you want to go see it knowing nothing and be confused or would it be more entertaining knowing what's going on? Personally I was so bored I considered getting on my phone to pass the time and be one of THOSE movie goers. But I didn't. I think I would have liked it better if I'd known what to expect.


So, if you want to know what it's about going into it here you go. The woman represents Mother Earth and her husband is God. That's the symbolism I saw. The director claims it's basically parts of the bible. The weird couple is Adam and Eve. Their two sons are Cain and Able etc. That's all you really need to know. NOW it will make more sense for you to watch....if you're even still interested. My husband, after discovering what it was all about was a little miffed that he got tricked into watching a religious movie. I was just bummed that the writer/director ripped off the oldest story in time and I payed money to see it.

Let's Talk
Do you like symbolism in movies or do you just like a story? I prefer a story. I just want to be entertained.

Wait till it's free on Netflix

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Review: United

Title United (Alienated #3)
By Melissa Landers
Genre YA Scifi
Rating ⭐️⭐️

Just when Cara and Aelyx thought they could finally enjoy their new life together on L'eihr a message from a new planet threatens to destroy not only the bond between earth and L'eihr but between Cara and Aelyx.

First Sentence
Greetings, earthlings!

Again, free and available on Overdrive and something to listen to whilst I do all the things I have to do that don't allow for sitting on a couch and staring at a book. And I admit I wanted to know what was going to happen.

While this one felt too long and had a lot of uneven pacing lowering my rating back to two stars, I still found it a satisfying, albeit convenient, ending to the series and I don't regret reading it or the series.

One of my favorite things about this series is the guy. Usually I hate these teen guys who do that whole youhavetostayhereandoutofdangercontrolfreakthing. I LOATH that about guys. I know it's supposed to be out of love but it's suffocating and insulting and I hate it!

Aelyx however never even came close to uttering those words. Cara was right there beside him fighting and I loved it. Alright, teenagers, especially a 17-18 year old red head with as much responsibility as a 50 something adult, responsible for saving the world was unbelievable and more than far fetched but it works. It was fun watching them save the world. Again.

Should you read it
Well, if you've made it though the first two books then alright, read it. ;) Did I mention they're free and always available to listen to on Overdrive?

Monday, September 18, 2017

Review: Jane Unlimited

Title Jane Unlimited
By Kristin Cashore
Genre Magic Realism
Rating ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Before her Aunt Magnolia died, she made Jane promise if she ever got invited to the elusive Tu Reviens house to go. Such and invitation has come and Jane, true to her word goes. But no one could have prepared her for the crazy world she's about to enter.

First Sentence
The house on the cliff looks like a ship disappearing into fog.

How I came upon this book was a stroke of pure luck. No, publishers weren't pounding at my door or littering my inbox with requests to read the newest book by one of my favorite authors. No, I'm not one of those bloggers. However, one of THOSE bloggers received an ARC of this book in THEIR mail and they, hopefully after reading it, donated it to my local thrift store. Imagine my delight when a book not even published yet fell into my lap because I happened to be at the right place at the right time. And if that wasn't good enough, I only paid a dollar fifty for it. Giddiness ensued.

So, I quickly lapped it up. For some reason I thought this was going to be a fantasy novel like Cashore's other books. I was WAY off! This reads more like a contemporary NA and a choose your own adventure. At first, that's what I thought it was but there was no instructions to skip ahead to a certain page for such and such choice so I read it front to back. (which, I saw later in the author's notes, was exactly how she meant for it to be read)

I enjoyed reading all the different possibilities Jane's choices presented. I'm glad it wasn't a choose your own adventure because the endings of some of those choices were pretty gloom and unsatisfying. Seeing how they all coincided was fun too.

I loved how real all the characters felt. Cashore does such a great job with her characters. By the end of the book you feel like you actually know these people. I adored Jasper the very best. I'm sorry, but basset hounds are my favorite type of dog and, yes, he's only a dog but animals are often the very best of characters. Am I right?  I loved him so much!

I found Jane's umbrella making fascinating to read about. I loved what a unique talent it was. I've never read a book about someone who makes umbrellas, have you? No? Exactly. It was so fun. And it was interesting seeing each different umbrella she created with each different choice.

The house. Oi! On the one hand I want to visit this crazy house and on the other I want to stay far far away from it. A house full of art with a indoor pool, bowling alley and atrium on its own island surrounded by the ocean...yes please. But I could do with out that creepy library. Yes, I called a library creepy. Read the book and you'll know why.

I won't go on and on anymore. I think I've praised the book enough. You'll notice I only gave it three stars and perhaps you're wondering why if I appear to have loved it so much. Well, I'll tell you. ;) I found it a titch long and a little slow moving at parts. And books like these tend to get a tiny bit repetitive. But other than that it was a delightful journey. One I found unique and entertaining.

Should you read it
This book is in bookstores September 19th and yes, I'd recommend you go pick yourself up a copy.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Friday Flicks: IT

Title It
Rating ★★★

What It's About
Unless you're deathly afraid of clowns and haven't seen a single trailer or heard a single thing about this one you probably already know what it's about. In fact, you could pretty much just look at my book review synopsis of this one and get the gist. I will say, however, that this movie is "part one". This movie just focuses on the kids and they're battle against It. While the book talks about these kids as adults too the movie just focuses on them as kids. So, yeah. Creepy evil thing that often manifests as a clown is terrorizing a small town in Maine and these kids decide to fight it.

Especially after Bill's brother, Georgie goes missing after a freaky encounter with said evil.

I'm not sure why I got so obsessed with this  one. I saw the preview and knew I'd be seeing it but then suddenly I decided to read the book. So I was all ready to jump into this movie. I knew I shouldn't have read the book first, though. The movie always pales in comparison to the book.

But that's an argument for a different day. This movie was entertaining. It had it's scary moments but wasn't too bad. The kids were hilarious and did a great job with being kids, being funny, and being brave.

I like that we have such great special effects in movies nowadays because then the clown isn't just some guy in a costume. He twisted and contorted in the freakiest of ways and it looked real and added a lot of creepiness to the movie.

Although, he was pretty creepy just standing there too. The different forms the clown took were gross and scary and made me really appreciate special effects.

So, while I had a little bit of trouble truly enjoying this one because it just didn't hold up against the book it was entertaining and as I've said before, that's what movies are for, right?

Let's Talk    
I was really impressed with the special effects in this one. I've seen bits and pieces of the 90s miniseries and laugh at how stupid everything looks. Although back in the day it was probably awesome??? What do you think? Do you think the stuff that looks so cool today will be laughable in 20 years?

Rent it from Redbox.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Review: The Winner's Kiss

Title The Winner's Kiss (Winner's Curse #3)
By Marie Rutkoski
Genre YA Fantasy
Rating ⭐️

Hurt and betrayed, Kestrel finds herself in a work camp. Drugged to work and drugged to sleep, memories of her life are fading. Determined to forget about the girl that broke his heart, Arin has joined forces with the Darcra and is waging war against the empire, determined to win freedom for Herran once and for all. But when Arin discovers what has happened to Kestrel can he save her? Body and soul?

First Sentence
He told himself a story.

After loving the first two books in the series, I was eager to jump right into the final book and see how it all ended. I was hoping to see Arin grovel accordingly and see Kestrel use her wits and awesome scheming skills to save herself from the prison work camp and to of course, to see the empire fall.

This is where my heart broke and then shattered and prickled beneath my skin in annoyance that turned to anger.

I LOVED the first two books. I gavethem the coveted 5 star review but this book....this book infuriated me. Where was the strong awesome woman I'd grown to love? She was a broken and pathetic and became dependent on a man.

Arin groveled all right, to the point of making me want to slap his face and tell him to shut up. Then he did that overprotective try and control the women he loves thing I can't stand.

The author definitely has a style of writing that's unique and beautiful but here it became disjointed. It felt like I was listening to a broken record. I had to reread sentenced over and over to figure out what was happening and keep my mind from wandering far, far away from this train wreck that it so badly wanted to escape.

After the bazillionth time of setting the book down in a rage I finally managed to finish it and was sadly, sadly disappointed. It was unrealistic and maddening and on top of everything else I just mentioned I was left feeling betrayed by what could have been a beautiful ending to a promising start of a series.

Should you read it
Um, everyone else loved the ending so maybe it was just me.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Review: Invaded

Title Invaded (Alienated #2)
By Melissa Landers
Genre YA Scifi Romance
Rating ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Losing her heart to an Aelyx and choosing to go with him to his planet wasn't and easy choice but Cara did what she felt was right. But when Aelyx has to go back to earth and Cara is left of L'eihr things are going to be even harder. Especially when Cara starts sniffing around and discovers a plot that could end both planets.

First Sentence
I'm dreaming of a beige Christmas.

As I mentioned in my review of the first book in this series, I decided to continue with it because it was available on audiobook and I was interested enough to see what happens I know, not a glowing review or reason to read a book but I'm kind of glad I continued. Sure, the romance is annoying but the plot in this one thickened nicely.

It seemed like once the author got the romance under way she no longer relied on it to carry the story. And the story is what kept me entertained. Learning about life on L'eihr was fun and watching Cara adapt to that life while learning some disturbing things about some certain members of the alien race intrigued me.

Sure, the story is your typical YA romance with a few convenient plot twists that are slightly unbelievable but I ended up giving this one three stars because the plot got going and tickled my fancy. What can I say? Sometimes it just works out that way.

Should you read it
I thought this one was better than the first so I'd say, yeah, give it a chance.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Friday Flicks: The Hitman's Bodyguard

The Hitman's Bodyguard
Rating ★★★★★ 

What it's about
OK, we've seen this story line before so this should be quick. We have the awesome bodyguard who's life is in shambles because a client died on his watch. We have the world's most successful hitman with numerous kills to his name. Sadly, he's locked away for life and so is his beautiful wife. And then we have the awful dictator accused of killing hundreds of people on trial with no witnesses to validate these claims. Well, of course Darius, our hitman, is a witness but getting him into another country to testify might be a little tricky. First Interpol tries but someone on the inside leaked info and they almost lose our hitman. Luckily the lead agent gets them to a safe house but doesn't dare call it in because she suspects a leak. So she calls our down and out Michael, her exboyfriend. Now charged with getting Darius to Amersterdam to testify against the scumbag dictator who has men everywhere trying to kill them, Michael and Darius will form a hilarious bond that gives us movie goers the most entertaining time we've had in a long time.

This movie is the most hilarious movie I've seen in a long time. It's one of those movies you sort of fear will have shown all the funny parts in the previews but, no, this one saved some good laughs for us. It reminded me of the good ol' Lethal Weapon's movies. A laugh a minute with kickass car chase
scenes and shoot outs, I adored this one. I want to go spend the money and see it theaters, I loved it so much.

Ryan Reynolds plays the grouchy life-sucks-and it's-everyone-else's-fault character perfectly. And Samuel L. Jackson is his usual foul mouthed, irreverent self.

Salma Hayek was absolutely hilarious as Samuel's wife. She was a scary crazy that just made me laugh. Her and Samuel's romance was too perfect. It had me in stitches.

The plot, while not super original was pieced together beautifully and had you on the edge of your seat hoping everything would turn out and just as you'd think you couldn't take it anymore some moment would ease the tension by making you laugh hysterically.

The dictator played by Gary Oldman was perfectly evil. I wanted to choke him out. And even though you know he won't win you still sort of fear he will. That man knows how to do creepy.

I couldn't recommend this one enough. I though it would be funny and entertaining but it was beyond that. I loved it. I want to see it again and I'll definitely be buying this one so I can enjoy it over and over again.

Let's Talk
Do you give the same old formulaic story lines a shot or always look for something new? I know I do. I love seeing a formula I know I'll like and then having it take that formula to a whole new height of awesomness.

See it in theaters!!!!

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Review: It

Title It
By Stephen King
Genre Adult Horror Suspense Fantasy
Rating ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

As kids they battled the evil that has haunted their town for hundreds of years. Now as adults it's happening again. Fulfilling an oath they took as kids they must return and destroy the evil once and for all.

First Sentence
The terror, which would not end for another twenty-eight years  - if it ever did end- began, so far as I know or can tell, with a boat made with a sheet of newspaper floating down a gutter swollen with rain.

I love Stephen King's writing. I haven't read all his books, not even close, but I usually end up liking the ones I do read. I wanted to read this one because of the upcoming movie. Otherwise I'm not sure I would have picked it up. I'm so glad I did, though.

 King claims he doesn't consider himself a horror writer and the more I read of his books the more I agree. I know, I know, just look at that cover. How can he claim to not write horror when he writes a story about an evil that appears as a clown (among other things) and kills children? But I really think his stories are much more fantasy and drama than horror. *shrugs*

Let's just get this out of the way. This one was Loooooong!!!! At fourteen hundred plus pages I knew I was in for the long haul. I feel like as I'm getting older I read slower too, so it took me forever to read this one. Still, it was a very fun read.

The way the past and present move seamlessly back and forth and coalesce at the end was amazing. The perfect way to tell a story of this magnitude. And those last 500 pages blew by. I stayed up late into the night to finish because it was just too exciting and I had to know how it all ended.

I adored the relationship these kids had. It was beyond mature and grown up, it was godly. Which of course explains why it wouldn't really last which made me so sad. Ah well. These characters and this story will stick with me for years, I'm sure of it.

I think this is one of King's masterpieces. It's not just a creepy little story about some kids and a clown. It's so, so, soooooo much more than that. It's an epic story so perfectly put together I feel privileged to have read it.

Should you read it
If you know it will give you nightmares then, no, don't read it, but if you've been curious then yes, read it.

Monday, September 4, 2017

August Wrap-Up 2017

And we're coming to the end of summer. August was an OK reading month for me but what was really exciting is I suddenly had a huge urge to blog again. Did you notice? Utah book week helped but something just got lit under me because I suddenly am just itching to blog. Not sure how long it will last but I guess we'll see. Here's what I read in August.

The Break Down by B. A. Paris, The Secret by Rhonda Byrnes, My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand/Brodi Ashton/Jodi Meadows, After Hello by Lisa Mangum and Alienated by Melissa Landers

Favorites of the month were The Break Down and The Secret. No least favorites this month. They were all pretty good.

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Review: Alienated

Title Alienated (Alienated #1)
By Melissa Landers
Genre YA Sci-fi romance
Rating ⭐️⭐️

Cara has worked hard to be head of the debate team and valedictorian but when her school chooses her to be host to a alien exchange student from the planet L'eihr she'll struggle not to lose everything she's worked for...including her heart.

First Sentence

This one has been on the old TBR list for awhile, it feels like. While I knew it was going to be your typical YA romance under the guise of a story, I was just sort of curious. When it popped up on Overdrive on audio book, I borrowed it and listened while doing endless yard work.

I always feel like audio books either make or break a story for me. This one, as you can see, I only gave two stars to but I don't blame the audio book this time. I kind of knew it wasn't going to work for me before I even read it. The whole YA paranormal/romance thing is getting on my nerves.

Before you just assume I hated this one and move on though you should know it has some good things going for it. The romance, for one, was not insta-love. It was a nice slow build up of friendship that turned to love.

The "Humanists" as they called themselves, felt real. I can just see a group of people protesting aliens that came to earth in peace because, well, they're different.

This one also had it's humorous moments that made me smile. I also liked the science. I doubt it's accurate but it was fun to read about.

I think I was expecting to hate it. Why I decided to read it then, I have no idea. I guess I'm a glutton for punishment, but I didn't hate it after all. In fact, I'm going to listen to the second book because it was available and, well, I'm curious what will happen next.  So I couldn't have hated it too bad, right?

Should you read it
We all know, I'm always in the minority with these books. And I didn't completely hate it so, yeah, give it a go.

Friday, September 1, 2017

Friday Flicks: We Love You, Sally Carmichael

We Love You, Sally Carmichael 
Rating ★★★

What It's About
Imagine you're a writer with only one published book that got little to no recognition. Imagine that you're talented enough to see what sells and could easily write a whole series of books that would sell but then you'd have no self respect. Imagine you do it anyway and it works. Your (human woman in love with a merman) series is a hit! You have a whole string of the series written, you're making millions and now your publishers are going to make a movie. Thank goodness you wrote under the pseudonym Sally Carmichael! But remember that self respect thing? Yeah, you have none left. You just want "Sally Carmichael to die but your publishers are telling you if you don't finish the series and meet with big movie star Perry Quinn and convince him to take the starring role in the series movie adaption you're going to get sued. Then imagine you fall in love with a local bookstore owner who has read the book you wrote under your real name and loved it.

But she doesn't know you're Sally Carmichael, writer of the siren stories with millions of, dress-up-for-book-club crazed fans.

When the truth comes out, and it will, things are going to get messy.

In honor of Utah book week I thought it would be fun to do a movie review for my new feature, Friday Flicks on this Utah movie. I don't know if this movie is getting released worldwide or not but for now it's in Utah only. I love Christopher Gorham and since he directed and starred in this one I had to see it.

Besides being cute and charming this movie was filmed in Utah and it was so fun seeing all the familiar spots they shot it at. Remember when I talked about one of my favorite used bookstores in the area?  They shot some of the movie there!

Christopher was great, as usual. His self loathing and fear of public speaking was hilarious. The film did have a bit of a independent movie feel to it which might turn some people off but I didn't mind.

This wasn't a deep symbolic film it was just a cute, funny, story that entertained and made me smile.

Lets Talk
Do you like independent films? I find myself inexplicably drawn to them. Sometimes Hollywood's familiar formula and money making schemes bore me and I need a good ol' original story that's out to tell a story rather than earn million at the box office.

I'd say see it in theaters but that's probably not an option for you all. So see it when and how you can. It's cute.