Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Movie Review #18: The Librarian-Curse Of The Judas Chalice

Hey there everyone! After much waiting, we were finally able to pick-up a copy of the 3rd Librarian movie at the library. I was so excited to watch this one and I was really hoping it would be more like the 1st one than the 2nd (I didn't really like the second installment, you can check out both reviews using the following links: Quest For The Spear & Return To King Solomon's Mines).

The Librarian: Curse Of The Judas Chalice
Release Year: 2008
Genre: Action Adventure Fantasy
My Rating: 4/5


The Premise: 
--as read on back cover of DVD

"Librarian by day.
Vampire killer by night. 
Noah Wyle (TV's 'ER') is back as Flynn Carson, along with Bob Newhart (Elf) and Jane Curtin (Coneheads), in the most thrilling adventure in THE LIBRARIAN series yet! On a deadly mission  to recover the historic Judas Chalice, Flynn is saved by--and falls in love with--Simone, a dazzling French woman who harbors a terrifying secret. But when double-crossed by a respected professor (Bruce Davison--X-Men, X2) and ambushed by a ruthless gang, Flynn realizes Simone's secret, his true mission and a shocking discovery are all lying within a decaying New Orleans crypt...a crypt that may be holding Prince Vlad Dracul, whom the world has feared for centuries."

The Trailer:



Yes. Well done, we have our humor back! Finally!!! This installment definitely did not disappoint me. I was just as excited watching this sequel as I was watching the very first Librarian. 

Flynn needs a vacation and winds up in the bayou city famous for jazz and Mardi Gras. That's right, we're heading for New Orleans. 


Voodoo, hidden secrets, New Orleans style cemeteries, music, love, pirates and vampires...wait, vampires?? Yes indeed, we have vampires. While I'm typically very wary about vampires in books and movies nowadays, I really like the touch that this element added to this movie. It was actually rather fitting and it made sense. It wasn't overdone, it was melted in perfectly---like a delicious grilled cheese sandwich. 

We still have all the history and random knowledge typical of Flynn's character and lots of entertaining action sequences [absolutely loved the sword sequence at the beginning]. There are puzzles and raging emotions. Heartache and love are key elements in this movie, and I'm rather glad with how it all turned out in the end. I am especially fond of the dash of pirate tossed into the mix. 

I don't want to ruin the movie, so I'll just conclude my review here. You are going to have to watch it for yourself, because if I continue, spoilers will abound {and I'm sure you don't want that}.



Friday, August 24, 2012

Book Review: X-Club

I'm doing a little bit of research, so you'll be seeing some Graphic Novels popping up here and there. Yes, that's right. I used research and GNs in the same sentence. I use GNs as research. Research for what?? The book I'm starting on. ^_^ Finally! I'm finally getting some real work done.

What I'm Listening To:

  • Hide by Creed (I love the rhythm, my favorite line is "get lost in time, where there's no reason left to hide"...the guitar is pretty cool too)
  • Headstrong by Trapt (Always matches superhero stuff for some reason)


X-Men: X-Club
Writer: Simon Spurrier, Artist: Paul Davidson
Rating: 4/5

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Blurb:
--as read on back of GN 
"We Do Science!

X-Men: X-ClubIn the wake of Schism, the X-Men's Science Team takes it upon themselves to make a gesture of goodwill on behalf of mutantkind and better the world---using science. But just as construction of the X-Club's state-of-the-art space elevator nears completion, chaos erupts--and it appears to the world mutants are to blame! Can Dr. Nemesis, Madison Jeffries, Kavia Rao and Danger clear the X-Men's name before their experiment backfires? It's a thrilling sci-fi adventure that will surely change how you look at the X-Men---and the periodic table of elements---forever!"
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Things are super chaotic and they're getting even more crazy as the story progresses! Things are completely out of balance, and no one knows why. An Atlantean dies and a ship ends up blowing up---and there's no explanation. So, BIG SURPRISE, mutants get blamed....nothing new there. 

At first, I was really confused and figured it was because I didn't read Schism and that I would just fill in the blanks as I went along. Turns out, I didn't need Schism after all! Everything gets explained in time and my confusion was gone, enabling me to just enjoy the ride. I can honestly say that this was one of the coolest X-Men GNs I've read (and I've read a pretty decent amount). I really liked how they incorporated the strangely affected ocean creatures. 

This one is my favorite of all. It made me laugh. I couldn't help imagining how much Sea World would freak out if Shamu started shooting out random beams of power. I really had to pay attention in order to find this one and I'm SUPER glad I didn't miss it. The artists took the name "Killer Whale" to a whole new level. Shamu's not happy.



 I didn't recognize very many of the characters (except for Scott Summers/Cyclops) and I am totally cool with that, because I was finally able to pick out a favorite character (typically, I can't pick favorites at anything). My favorite is Doctor Nemesis. He is so arrogant and his responses are hilarious. I love his comebacks. The best thing about him though, is his inner thoughts---which are revealed thanks to a starfish attached ridiculously to his head. I was laughing and it was just so much fun.



He got super cool points when he was somehow able to rope and ride a hammerhead shark. That's just epically cool! How often do you see the X-Men do that?!?!






This GN is a lot of fun and I got so turned around with the story line. First the ship blows up and the equilibrium of life gets whacked out. Next thing you know there's a mess dealing with a computer, a pregnant robot chick and just when you think you've seen it all.....in comes the Nazi! That's right, it all traces back to a Nazi. Isn't that how it always goes? Learned one thing though,...apparently a robot and a human can kiss---don't know how, but its possible now.

Overall, this was one great graphic novel. I had a blast reading it and I'm glad that the library had it. I would definitely check this one out again to read over...if only to see the epic pictures--mostly the ones seen above--and to hear the sarcastic comebacks of Dr. Nemesis. =)









Movie Review #17: Logan's Run

Hey! During another trip to our local library, Mom and I picked up another movie. She showed it to me, telling me that she saw it with her family at the drive-in when she was little. So why not give it a shot?? Summer Movie Nights at The Real World According To Sam is happy to present to you this film from the 1970s.


Logan's Run
Release Year: 1976
Genre: Sci-Fi Action Thriller
My Rating: 2/5

The Premise:
(as written on the back of the cover)

"Live it up today, your time is up tomorrow. In the Year of the City 2274, humans forsake the ravaged outer environment by living in a vast, bubbled metropolis. There, computerized servo-mechanisms provide all needs and everyone can pursue endless hedonism. Endless, that is, until Lastday. That's when anyone who's 30 must submit to Carrousel, a soaring, spinning trip to eternity and supposed rebirth.

The screen's first use of laser holography provides some sci-fi kicks in this post-apocalyptic saga honored with a Special Achievement Academy Award for Visual Effects. Michael York plays Logan 5, a Sandman authorized to terminate Runners fleeing Carrousel. Logan is almost 30. Catch him if you can."

Based on the 1967 novel of the same title by William F. Nolan and George Clayton Johnson, Logan's Run takes us into the future in a time where humans live in a domed city and live for nothing but pleasure. They only live to the age of 30. While it was given an award for its special effects, I am very sad to say that this movie is extremely dated. The concept is extremely intriguing, however I must say that the execution would be much better now, in the 21st century.


At only 2 minutes short of 2 hours, this movie unfortunately drags on much longer than it should. There are about 3 different scenes that feel like the ending, but unfortunately the 2 prior to the ACTUAL end come entirely too soon. Many things in this movie didn't quite add up and there were a lot of scenes that just did not match up. The sequence was very choppy. The scenes did not link or connect very often. I felt like I watched one bit of film, and then another and so on in order to just see the story. I didn't feel the story and I certainly didn't feel immersed in the experience.
Other scenes weren't even necessary. I liked the character of the old man, but the whole deal with the cats just didn't click. The cats were definitely not necessary. The old man could have just lived alone for years and it would have been more effective and contributed more to the movie as a whole. 

Also, one thing I really disliked about this movie, was seeing everything with Logan. Sure, he is the main character and is in practically every scene, but in the end the lack of multiple viewpoints just results in a very limiting experience. Francis never questioned Carrousel or the way things were, but we never really saw how any of the other young people living in the domes felt. You can see their excitement during the first scene of Carrousel, but other than that we know nothing about them. I honestly think that 1 scene presenting a conversation between other minor or extra characters would have been a great way to show the overall attitude and reaction of the humans to their environment and lifestyle. I thought the focus was supposed to be on the way things are in the year 2274, but all I was really given was how one guy sees it all happen. How did things become the way they are in that time?? Why is everyone separated by age using colors? Why are the children so hostile? Who runs the place?!?! Is it run by an actual government, or is it run by the computer? These are questions I had that were never even brought up. These are the questions that, if answered, would have made the movie that much more effective.

For years, there have been plans to produce a remake of this movie (as read here: Logan's Run Remake), based more so on the original novel than on the original movie. Once the remake is completed, I will most definitely watch it. The concepts for this story are great! They show lots of promise. Perhaps with modern technology, the execution will prove far more impressive. One of the main problems I had was with the way the original movie was written. Hopefully there are more talented writers working on the newer version than the ones who worked on the original (no offense intended to any of the original writers). I honestly believe that this movie could be a hit, if done properly. I'm going to do my best to get my hands on a copy of the novel, to see where the original movie [& hopefully future remake] measure up. I would love to see where the differences lie and what could have made the original so much better. I am intrigued by the thought of seeing how well the new production team will adapt Logan's Run for present-day audiences. 

Overall, this film is enjoyable, but not highly thrilling or moving. With outdated special effects and poor writing, Logan's Run leaves much to be desired and I'm very sad to have seen so much promise and potential wasted. 

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Book Review: Just Grace

My little sister is an avid reader, just like me and she recently read this book. She liked it and I decided to read it too. So today's book is for the smaller readers.

Just Grace
By Charise Mericle Harper
Rating: 3/5

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Just Grace (Just Grace, #1)Blurb:

Here are some things you will find in this book:
  1. Crinkles the cat, at least until he disappears.
  2. Fantastic friends like Mimi and the glamorous Augustine Dupre, who is from France.
  3. A boy with some unfortunate habits.
  4. And finally, four girls named Grace, which is entirely three Graces too many.


Here are some things you will not find in this book:
  1. A lost friend.
  2. The world's largest sandwich.
  3. A new neighbor who can do hand-stands. 
Maybe they will be in the next book. We will have to wait and see.
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This book is really cute and told from the perspective of Grace, or Just Grace, due to a classroom misunderstanding. We experience her superpower of empathy and get to share all her pint-sized adventures. This time she is making feel-good postcards for her neighbor featuring photos of Crinkles the cat (Mrs. Luther's cat---the neighbor). Sammy Stringer, a boy with disgusting habits who Grace is not fond of at all, is framed for catrobbery because Crinkles is missing. Sammy and Grace will end up having to work together for a short bit of time if they want to find Crinkles and clear up a misunderstanding accidentally caused by Grace's empathy powers. 

Overall, this book is a really quick read, but is really fun since Grace is such a likable character and not overly dramatic like some children's characters tend to be. 

Movie Review #16: Back To The Future Part 2

A few weeks ago, Summer Movie Nights brought you the review for the classic 80s movie: Back To The Future. Today, I'm taking you, once again, to the future...and then back to the present where we will be zipped with Marty McFly back to the past to once more fix the future! Confused yet? Hold on, because things are getting heavy.

Back To The Future Part II
Release Year: 1989
Genre: Sci-Fi Comedy Adventure
My Rating: 4/5

The Premise:
---As found on IMDB written by John Wiggins

"With Marty McFly's parents back together and back in his own time of 1985. He thought that his ordeal of time traveling was over. What he does not know is that it was just the beginning, as Dr. Emmett L. Brown saysthat he has to come to the future with him. Marty and his girlfriend Jennifer come with Doc to the year 2015 where his future family is about to enter turmoil when Marty's son Marty Jr. is about to be in a robbery. Marty and Doc formulate a plan to prevent the robbery from taking place, as they succeed in their mission Marty buys a book called 'Grey's Sports Almanac' which is a futuristic sports statistics book. When Doc throws it away, former school bully Biff Tannen picks it up and discovers Doc's time machine. So he steals it. When he brings it back, Doc and Marty with Jennifer go back to 1985 and realize that things aren't right. Biff has altered time. He is rich and married to Marty's mother Lorainne. Doc and Marty then have to go back in time to 1955 to steal the almanac from Biff and set things right."

The Trailer:



2 Words:  Mind Blown. That's what I was during and after this movie. Turn after turn hit me like acorns being thrown by mangy squirrels. Right when I had it all figured out, WHAM! Bolt of lightning knocked into me a different century, sending me on multiple whirlwinds of adventure. All crazy metaphorical comparisons aside, this is the best sequel to any movie I've ever seen. Sure, some sequels hit the mark and others fall flat onto their movie posters...but this one goes beyond every sequel known to man. It takes the original movie to new heights and even takes the movie one step farther. Everything you saw in the first movie, is about to be layered with events that you never even knew took place.The end was so gripping and left me reaching like a mad person for Back To The Future Part III. I was so scared that I would be disappointed with a sequel to an already classic movie and Back To The Future Part II allowed me to breath a sigh of relief and exhilaration. I could go on and on about this movie, but then I'd be ruining it. Your favorite cast, a flying DeLorean and bad 80s cafes....what more could you want from the sequel to one of Spielberg's and Zemeckis' greatest accomplishments? A movie for all ages, for all times. It doesn't get much heavier than this! 

Monday, August 13, 2012

Movie Review #15: Cry Of The Penguins


At the library, we were looking through the movies, as usual, and Alexandria picked this up. For those who don't know, Alexandria loves penguins. They're her favorite animals and she has a decent amount of stuffed penguins. Not to mention that whenever we go to the library, I see at least one penguin book in her stack. We figured we would check it out, just to give it a shot.


Cry Of The Penguins
Release Year: 1971
Genre: Adventure
My Rating: 2/5


The Premise:
(As read on back cover)

"When a womanizing biologist has the opportunity to study a colony of penguins in the Antarctic, he accepts with the intention of impressing a girl, and not for scientific purposes.

However, over the course of his time spent around the penguins, he develops a genuine interest and concern for their fight for survival. Will being so close to nature transform the man's outlook on his own priorities?"

Unfortunately, there is not a trailer for this film, so we're skipping right on to the review.

It apparently isn't a very common movie. I can honestly say that I was expecting a little bit more from this movie than I got. The plot was a generally nice idea, but the execution wasn't so marvelous. This movie could have been a lot better if certain things were changed or added.


Things I Thought Would Have Made the Movie Better:

1) More development between Tara and Richard, because it isn't convincing AT ALL.

2) A scene towards the end where Richard's change of outlook can be demonstrated.

3) A little more thought, because it just isn't logical to take wood from the wimpy shelter you have in order to build a machine (basically a failed catapult), that won't even work in the end. You can't toss off nature's balance, no matter how much it means to you. Even if it sends you into a mentally unstable level.

BOTTOM LINE: Less alcohol, more logic!

The thing that really redeemed this movie from being a 1 Star, was the great penguin footage. I enjoyed that a lot. Alexandria liked it, but wasn't too thrilled with the Adelie penguins (she's more of an emperor penguin type of girl).

Overall, there was lots of potential that wasn't capitalized on. Definitely could have been a great film with just a little more editing and effort. Good for about one watch, but it won't be a family favorite. 

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Movie Review #14: Sandy The Seal

Yet again, a film picked up at the local library. The cover is the reason for us picking this movie up. Who doesn't love an adorable seal?? So today, The Real World According To Sam brings you:

Sandy The Seal
Release Year: 1969
Genre: Family
My Rating: 3/5

The Premise:
(As read on back cover)

"A movie for the whole family to enjoy, Sandy the Seal begins when a lighthouse keeper finds a seal in need of help. He brings the seal home and asks his children to look after it, not having any idea of the world he's just entered.

Pretty soon, the man and his family are thrown into the world of illegal seal poaching. The seal they found, in fact, is only one of many seals that have been hurt or killed by the poachers. The man and his family find themselves leading the fight against the poachers, trying to rid the town of the abusive hunters and save the seals.

Featuring important moral lessons as well as nonstop entertainment, Sandy the Seal is a  film the whole family can enjoy together. "

This movie is a Digiview film, so therefore it is rather old and I cannot find a trailer. So this is the movie:


This movie was entertaining. Sandy was so cute!! However, it is definitely not the best movie I have ever seen and I have a few bones to pick about it.

I understand that it is a movie and it is all fake,...but I found a couple of things that slightly bothered me. For example, the kids are about 8 & 7 or 9 & 8 and they have way too many freedoms. Yes, they now  have a pet seal, but that doesn't mean they can do whatever they want! Their parents buy them a boat/dinghy and they're just allowed to take it right out on the ocean, no problems. It doesn't end there though. They randomly pull out oxygen tanks and go scuba diving. Just like that! No suits or anything, just their normal swimwear and oxygen tanks. There were sharks and turtles in that shot. The mother tells them something later, but who even allows their kids to possess scuba gear and carry it around like its no big deal?? Not my parents. Also, I would have liked to see more emotion from the children. At times, they seemed almost lifeless.

Overall, Sandy the Seal is entertaining and I might watch it again, but I wouldn't highly recommend it. There was a startling lack of dialogue. The redeeming quality for this movie was Sandy and the seal footage. That was definitely worth my time. This movie would have been good with Sandy and the seals, no people. The actors didn't have that great of an impact.

Book Review: Tuck Everlasting

I found the movie on YouTube around 2 years ago and I loved it. Found out it was a book, so I had to read it [and was lucky enough to enjoy it with my dear friend Ashley]. Even though the movie is very different from the book, I still greatly adore both. This is a beloved children's classic and I have always wanted to read it right as it was happening in the book. A book with wonder and a powerful lesson. The power of summer at its best. The perfect getaway for when we don't feel like staying at home, but can't seem to get out of the house.

What I'm Listening To:

  • Main Title (Tuck Everlasting) by William Ross
  • Love Everlasting by William Ross
  • When You Were Young by The Killers


I have to share my favorite section of the book (ruins nothing, since its part of the prologue) :

            "The first week of August hangs at the very top of the summer, the top of the live-long year, like the highest seat of a Ferris wheel when it pauses in its turning. The weeks that come before are only a climb from balmy spring, and those that follow a drop to the chill of autumn, but the first week of August is motionless, and hot. It is curiously silent, too, with blank white dawns and glaring noons, and sunsets smeared with too much color. Often at night there is lightning, but it quivers all alone. There is no thunder, no relieving rain."



Tuck Everlasting
By Natalie Babbitt
Rating: 5/5

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Blurb:
Tuck Everlasting---taken from back of the book

"Doomed to---or blessed with---eternal life after drinking from a magic spring, the Tuck family wanders about trying to live as inconspicuously and comfortably as they can. When ten-year-old Winnie Foster stumbles on their secret, the Tucks take her home and explain why living forever at one age is less a blessing than it might seem. Complications arise when Winnie is followed by a stranger who wants to market the spring water for a fortune."

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This book is in my top 10, for sure. I am even going to go so far to say that when I have a kid, they're going to read this book at least once. Heck, it may even become a bedtime story. That's how highly I consider it. I love all three covers, but my absolute favorite is the one that uses the picture from the movie (below left) (since I'm fond of both equally). The yellow one (above) has a peaceful antique feel and was the cover on the copy I checked out from the library the first time I read it. The third cover, with the girl in the frock (further below) is the most common one that my friends own and that most people purchase. 

Tuck EverlastingGood story, good characters, good setting, and above all GREAT WRITING. I love the style. Babbitt wrote Tuck Everlasting in a way that makes it feel not as if you're reading a book, but as if you're being told the story and through the telling, living it. 

You breathe the scent of the forest and feel the coolness of the water. The crispness of the air and the burning heat come off of the page. The quiet, rickety creaking sounds associated with forests whispers in your ear. This is exactly why I call it a getaway when you're unavoidably stuck in the house. When reading, you're no longer in your favorite chair or lying on your bed or even just splayed out on the couch. You're in a forest in an older time, a simpler time, facing every challenge that comes with the story. You don't read about the Tuck family. You meet them face-to-face and share their simplicity and pain. You don't just watch Winnie Foster's reactions, you perform them with her. You feel her thoughts as your own and long for something more. A little more adventure, a little more room to just....play. You feel like a young kid again, not knowing what you're going to find in this big old world. All you want to do is live, and breath, and play. In this book, all of that is achieved, and we are left with so much more. 

Tuck EverlastingTuck Everlasting revolves around the idea of immortality, but while that is the hub of the story, it is not necessarily what MAKES the story. What makes Tuck Everlasting, is the characters and their reaction to immortality. Each character has their own perspectives and each has to make their own decisions. Winnie is just a child, but in the course of the first week of August, she grows up a lot more than most of us would think possible. While a lot of books these days make a big deal out of the greatness of immortality, Tuck Everlasting shows what immortality really is and the effects that it has on a simple family and the two people who wander into their lives. 

A little quirk that I found enjoyable was the fact that the antagonist has no name (as far as we know). He is just "the man in the yellow suit," which I think tells a lot about his character. He is not particularly villainous, therefore his name doesn't conjure feelings of evil in every sentence where he is mentioned. He is just affected by the Tucks and the spring in a different way than Winnie. He was shaped differently by the thought of immortality, but that does not make him the core of the novel. He just presents a common perspective towards immortality. 

Besides being beautifully written, Tuck Everlasting leaves the reader with something new to ponder after each completion. At first, you may leave with Tuck's great words: "Don't be afraid of death; be afraid of an unlived life. You don't have to live forever, you just have to live." The next time, you may leave with a new perspective on how to live, or maybe just how to appreciate those you encounter throughout your life. You may think and consider how every person you have met has in some way, shaped your life, no matter how small their influence may have been. After reading this book over about 4 times at least, I've begun to be more observant. Every time I go outside, I notice a few of the minor details that we typically pass over from day to day. The colors of the leaves at different times of the year, or the shapes of shadows on the ground. Even the cracks in the sidewalk or the light bouncing off of water at night call to me now. There's always something new to see when you go out and something to be learned every time this book is re-read. 

I recommend this to everyone, because sometimes, we need to forget the stress we place on ourselves and just live,...breathe,...play. We need to awaken the inner child that has been sleeping for far too long. The next time the first week of August rolls around, take a chance and see what living is about. 

Until the next time we meet, 
Keep your eyes open to life's many wonders!
                           Sam

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Book Review: Glass Houses

I was super excited about this book for a couple of reasons. It is a super talked about series for one. It takes place in Texas!! That is BIG reason number two. And reason #3: Rachel Caine was born at White Sands Missile Range---which, for those of you who don't know---is super close to El Paso. Apparently, she graduated from Socorro High School, which is also here. But anyway, I picked this one up from the library, and it was part of my Summer Reading...so it is book #4!

What I'm Listening To:

  • Devil Town by Tony Lucca  (Completely fits this book! Heard on Friday Night Lights and while I was reading, tossed this song on. Couldn't help it)
  • We Love Like Vampires by Sparks The Rescue (A friend of mine from forever ago liked this song. It popped into my head when I was reading this book)

Glass Houses
Book One of The Morganville Vampires
by Rachel Caine
Rating: 3/5

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Blurb:

Glass Houses (The Morganville Vampires, #1){Welcome to Morganville, Texas. Don't stay out after dark.}
It's a small college town filled with quirky characters. But when the sun goes down, the bad comes out. Because in Morganville, there is an evil that lurks in the darkest shadows--one that will spill out into the bright light of day.

Claire Danvers has had enough of her nightmarish dorm situation. The popular girls never let her forget just where she ranks on the school's social scene: somewhere less than zero. And Claire really doesn't have the right connections--to the undead who run the town.

When Claire heads off campus, the imposing old house where she finds a room may not be much better. Her new roommates don't show many signs of life. But they'll have Claire's back when the town's deepest secrets come crawling out, hungry for fresh blood.....

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Wasn't sure what I should have been expecting, but I did like it a little. It wasn't the best book ever, and I had to switch my mindset while reading it, but I might keep reading the series (especially since Caine had to put in that stupid cliffhanger moment at the end).

Claire....didn't like her at first, for several reasons. (I'll list those in a moment) As I was reading though, I realized something. I was reacting. I may not agree with everything she did and we may have our differences, but she was making me react. In the world of reading, that's exactly what I want. I want to care, and I want to react. So that was the "A-ha!"
moment when my lightbulb turned on and drove me to finish this book.

So, why didn't I like Claire?

1. She cries a lot,...but I guess I could be guilty of that sometimes

2. She says she's the stereotypical smart girl (nerd, friendless, picked on). I don't quite agree with this stereotyping, but I've had different experiences being a "stereotypical smart girl." (everyone wants answers and they only know you as 'that one girl who sits up front and knows all the answers' --just forget I have a name) I had plenty of friends, even being a nerd. Not all smart girls are friendless, but I guess I'll just roll with this one being unchangeable.

3. Claire seems rather obsessed with wanting to be 'hot' in Chapter 1. This upset me, because if she was genuinely smart, she would realize that 'hot' isn't necessarily the best adjective for a girl to be labeled with. Plus, there are more things in life besides how you look. Oh well, let's hope she learns in time.

4. Clothes aren't everything, Claire. Especially in a town where you can end up dead.

5. She "loved books, and reading, and learning things-okay, not calculus, but pretty much everything else." This is actually great! Except for the calculus part, because there is absolutely nothing wrong with calculus (quick shout-out to Mr. Fish's 4th pd School of Cal Fish!). I actually enjoyed learning calculus. So I guess that makes me a bigger nerd than Claire....

6. This was one that was just kind of personal. Its probably only me who reacted this way to this little detail. Claire doesn't like video games...*sighs and shakes head* I'm just weird I guess, because that's not really something that would bother the average reader.

That's pretty much it. I kinda wanted to yell at her in some instances (but I wouldn't actually do that out loud, since she's a fictional character in a book and NOT a real person). I was reacting to her character though, so I'll cut her some slack and let her slide this time in the hopes that she'll grow as a character in the long run.

The characters were all pretty interesting. Monica is a first class witch who should have all of the blood in her body sucked out. The plot was interesting, but in a way it was unoriginal. I honestly felt like I had read this already (I haven't, I promise!). Maybe it was deja vu, but who knows. Claire's house mates are all really interesting and I want to see more of them in the future.

There were also a couple of Texas references placed in the book. Some were better done than others. As a Lone Star Teen, I feel it my duty to present these to you.

When she first goes to Glass House, "It occurred to Claire, as the door boomed shut behind her, that there were a couple of ways to interpret that, and one of them--the Texas Chainsaw Massacre way--wasn't good." Ok, this one felt like it was kind of just tossed there for a scare factor set-up. Claire's in a creepy Texas town, so we're just gonna toss in the most popular horror film that takes place in Texas. That's basically what it felt like to me.

Not much later, she is offered chili (which happens to be the state dish of Texas). "Good chili, from the way it smelled. With...garlic?" I guess Caine was trying to make the point that the people living there weren't vampires, but that was really unnecessary to me. All of the good tasting chili bowls have garlic (especially in Texas). I can prove it! Go here: History Of Chili or Here: WCCC Recipes. The vampire-garlic thing in Texas wasn't necessary.

I think that this was the best Texas reference, props to Shane: "Sorry. Last stand at the Alamo." That was good timing with that one, to the point where I didn't even see it coming. Well done.

Overall, the book was good, the characters were interesting and best of all: I REACTED!!! So this book was saved by reaction, making it a 3-star book. I need to read the second book, because Rachel Caine decided to use that cliffhanger marketing technique that I've kind of come to hate.

Enjoy your weekend!
Don't stay out after dark
        Sam

Movie Review #13: The Librarian-Return To King Solomon's Mines

This one was also picked up at the local library. I picked up both of the Librarian movies and I am currently requesting the third! Thank you library!

The Librarian: Return To King Solomon's Mines
Release Year: 2006
Genre: Action Adventure Fantasy
My Rating: 3/5


The Premise:
(As read on back of cover)

"New Continent. New Adventure. Still No Clue. 
You know how riled a librarian gets when Treasure Island is two days overdue? Imagine what happens when villains nab the Librarian's map to King Solomon's mines, the hiding place of fabulous ancient treasures! Noah Wyle again portrays Librarian Flynn Carson, the unlikely book-smart protector of humanity's greatest secrets. Bob Newhart, Jane Curtin and Olympia Dukakis also return in another thrilling adventure set in far-flung corners of the world. This time, the action careens from Cairo to Casablanca to Kenya to the arms of a beautiful archaeologist (Gabrielle Anwar). Can the Librarian escape a watery tomb? Fend off attacking hippos? Cross over a river of fire? Brave a perilous netherworld to defeat an evil mastermind and his henchmen? In short, can he save the world again?"

The Trailer:


I don't know what it is about sequels that just don't line up. The Librarian: Quest for the Spear was absolutely brilliant! Return to King Solomon's Mines? Not so much. Don't get me wrong, it was still really good, it just didn't go the full mile. 

If anything is to blame, I'd say its the serious tone throughout pretty much the entire adventure. We still get to see the world and go after some of history's greatest mysteries, but there's a large lack of wit and I wasn't so inspired this time around. 

Overall, I would watch this one again, but I'd watch Quest for the Spear a lot more. I missed the humor and wit. 

SPOILER ALERT: BEWARE!
Go no further unless you're ok with a 1st movie-2nd movie events-in-between confusion note

What in the heck happened to Nicole? There is absolutely no explanation as to where she disappeared to. For all I know, she could have died. Which upset me, because that bothered me throughout the entire movie while I waited for some explanation. 





Saturday, August 4, 2012

Book Review: Chopsticks

This book was one I received as a giveaway at Goodreads. It came out in February of this year. After reading the description, I thought it sounded pretty cool. I have a certain fondness for music, so let's have at it! I bring you:

What I'm Listening To:

  • I'm In Love With A Girl by Big Star 
(was listening to the songs on the playlists in this book and this one popped up on the side. It's very short, and not the greatest song ever..but it kinda sets part of the tone for this book)


Chopsticks
by Jessica Anthony & Rodrigo Corral
Rating: 3/5

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Blurb:

Glory is a piano prodigy.

After her mother died, she retreated into herself and her music. Her single father raised her with the goal of playing sold-put shows at  Carnegie Hall and across the globe. Now, Glory has disappeared. Chopsticks shows us the events leading up to her disappearance, and we see a girl on the precipice of disaster. Brilliant and lonely, Glory is drawn to an artistic new boy, Frank, who moves in next door. She loses herself in his paintings and drawings, mix CDs, and late-night IM conversations. Frank becomes both her touchstone to the world--and her escape from reality. The farther she falls, the more she is unable to play anything but the song Chopsticks, which represents her relationship with Frank; F and G notes moving closer together, and farther apart. 

But nothing is what it seems, and it's up to the reader to decide what is real, what is imagined, and what has been madness all along...
----------------------------------------------------------------------

This book took me by surprise. Not because of the story being told, but the WAY in which it was told. Chopsticks is told through images. Every page is a different image. We are shown photographs from scrapbooks and newspaper clippings. There are IM windows and random papers. It was really quick to get through, and the story was kind of enjoyable. 

But, I have some problems with the summary. I feel like I wasn't given the proper picture...so I'll see if I can tweak this better. Glory plays piano. Yes, she is a prodigy. Her schedule is filled with lots of hours of piano practice (around 7) plus a few lessons. So already, we as readers realize that she does not attend school (as many prodigies don't so they can focus on their respective talents). The summary said that Glory retreated into herself and her music after her mother died. I don't quite believe that. Yes, the death of her mother may have played a role in this, but overall I don't think that's the least of it. Also, the concluding sentence, ''But nothing is what it seems, and it's up to the reader to decide  what is real, what is imagined, and what has been madness all along...", just doesn't do it for me. As the reader, I met the characters, experienced the story and I'm not quite sure what this line is supposed to mean. Is Glory supposed to be crazy? Or is it just that the overall logic of the conclusion is goofed up? I don't see madness here. I see a girl with no outside experience finding someone she experiences something other than music with. I find her as a girl who needs something else and possibly goes about the wrong way to getting something a little different paced. It may not have been the best choice, but something she needed to do for herself and if it was a mistake, she'll find out in time and find a way to fix it.

My Conclusion About This Whole Thing:
Glory's father pry took the death of his wife very hard. He basically takes over Glory's life (in my opinion) and is, ultimately, (I believe) the reason Glory left. First of all, she has no social life. Its just always her and the piano. If she had contact with outside people, I'm sure things might have been different. Frank is all she new outside of her music life and her father. Its also a plus that he ended up being an artist and therefore saw things in a different perspective. 
I don't think she's crazy and her decision may have been a little off in the end, but given that she doesn't have a mother figure and her father is creating more friction even if he doesn't intend to...it was almost inevitable. Given more leash, I think Glory would have stayed, content with where she was. 
It was a decent "read" but definitely not the best thing I ever read. I think more could have been done to improve the story (especially with the format it is in), but overall it was a generally nice book with some very artistic touches. I thought the playlists were a nice touch...I may not be totally in love with every song on them, but I'm very fond of playlists and I will take the time to listen to the songs on them when I can (always thought it'd be cool to have someone create a playlist especially for me). 

OVERALL:
Nice format, sweet simple story, average characters...a nice book for a warm summer day. =)

Movie Review #12: The Librarian-Quest For The Spear

Another movie from the library, I picked this one up because I liked the title. It seemed adventurous and had comedy potential. Plus, librarians/nerds and ancient treasures are amazing!
The Real World According To Sam presents the TNT made for TV movie:

The Librarian: Quest For The Spear
Release Year: 2004
Genre: Action Comedy Adventure
My Rating: 5/5


The premise:
(As read on the back cover)

"To be a librarian, you must master the Dewey Decimal System, ace internet research and, if you're new librarian Flynn Carsen (Noah Wyle), save the world! Wyle (ER) heads a sterling cast in a fun, fantastical, special effects-laden adventure that soars around the world form the Metropolitan Library to the Amazon jungle to the Himalayas. Geeky Carsen lands a job as the Librarian, keeper of such top-secret Met treasures as Excalibur and Pandora's Box. Then the Serpent Brotherhood, seeking world domination, steals one of three parts of the magical Spear of Destiny from the library. Only Flynn, aided by a gorgeous bodyguard, has the knowhow to thwart their plan. But does he know how to be a hero? He will--even if he has to gouge, kick, punch, brave Mayan death traps and plunge off icy precipices every inch of the way!"

The trailer:


I really enjoyed this movie! When it finished, I was pretty pumped. I was excited to learn (that sounds really nerdy, but its completely true). I wanted to go to the library and immerse myself in the wonderful world of books. But it was around 10 PM, so obviously the library was closed. 

This movie has everything. Its funny, its witty, its full of suspense and adventure, it emits intelligence, there is history everywhere, we travel the world from our living rooms, and the most secret, magical treasures are presented. There is something for everyone in this made-for-TV-movie. 

The adventure reaches that of daredevils and the fight sequences are definitely fun. Wit abounds and the characters are memorable. Definitely worth the time to pick up and watch a couple times over. 

The Librarian is a must watch. I highly recommend it to everyone. Please rent it or borrow it from your local library NOW! I'm pretty sure you won't be disappointed. I know I wasn't.  =D

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Movie Review #11: Eat Pray Love

Mom recently picked this one up at the library. We really enjoy watching the Big Bang Theory and Raj mentioned this movie in one of the episodes. We just had to watch it for ourselves.
The Real World According To Sam gives you:

Eat Pray Love
Release Year: 2010
Genre: Romantic Drama
My Rating: 3/5

The premise:   (as read on the movie cover)

"Believing there's more to life than a husband, house and career, Liz Gilbert (Julia Roberts) finds herself with  a new appetite for life in this inspiring true story, based on the bestselling book. She leaves New York and embarks on a yearlong journey--traveling to Italy, India and Bali--seeking self-discovery through good food, meditation and the prospect of finding true love. James Franco, Billy Crudup and Javier Bardem co-star in this sumptuous and uplifting adventure filled with humor and heart."

Trailer:

When I first watched this movie, I had heard of the novel but had never really looked at it or knew what it was about. As I was watching I was under the impression that a lady had written a novel and it was turned into a movie. At certain parts in the movie I was thinking, "Who wrote this stuff?"  and "This scene would be better if.." After the movie, I was watching the credits and saw that it said based on the book by Elizabeth Gilbert. I found it odd that an author would go so far as to name a character after themselves. Sure they base certain characteristics or quirks but never a whole name. Then I went online and looked at the book to get a better feel for what I watched and that was when I realized that it was a memoir. A true story...of someone's life. I felt kinda silly. Now I realize why this movie played out the way it did. 

Taking it as a fictional story I was thrown by some of the events and the lack of connection between some of the places and occurrences. Knowing it to be a memoir, it makes sense that everything wouldn't fit into place. It also throws into relief the fact that things from the book probably weren't included in the movie so I have the opportunity to read it later and accept it for what it truly is. 

Overall, there is a lot to be learned from this movie, whether you know if it is a memoir or not. Definitely gives you something to ponder and things to learn about yourself. This is the type of movie that leaves you with something, even if you don't realize it when you're watching it. You walk away with new ideas and ways of seeing the world around you.