Since I can’t write about what I thought about THE HOST because someone’s out of town partying, I’ll have to write my waaaaay overdue Beautiful Creatures review. Okay, this review is 1 1/2 months overdue, but I know a lot of people were asking about it, so better late then never, right? My take is if you haven’t seen it yet, just wait for the DVD.
To be honest, I was never crazy about the book to begin with. I mean, the overall story was good, but for some reason, I just really struggled with the book – and this was during the time when I liked just about everything I picked up. I’m not sure if it was because it was so long or if it was because it was written in Ethan’s point of view or whatever else the reason could have been, but I really felt that the book dragged, and I just couldn’t get into it. And no, I never picked up the sequel or the one after that.
Having said that, Annaalese, Rhe and I watched it on President’s Day – the Monday following opening weekend, and as we walked out, this is what we had to say about it:
Rhe, who hasn’t read the book, shrugged and said the movie was “okay.” Annaalese, who has read it, said “The movie didn’t follow anything in the book!” Let me tell you, she was pretty upset about the lollipop. So here are our reviews…
The Beautiful Creatures movie was enjoyable enough if you go in without any expectations if it relating to the book. I know movies can’t always be like the book, but aside from character names and the basic plot, nothing was the same, and the changes seemed silly. I mean, did Ridley really have to eat strawberries when her thing was red lollipops? Of course, I didn’t care much for the book when I read it, so the differences didn’t annoy me like other books turned into movies.
I didn’t read the book, so I was able to watch the movie with an open mind. The movie was very simple, but I appreciated the modern approach on such an antique monster. The love story was central to the plot, but it managed to not overwhelmed the viewer with a soppy teen romance.
I don’t really remember the book much, but I felt the movie did move a lot faster. However, I did feel that some of it, especially the interaction between Ethan and Lena was kind of cheesy. I don’t remember thinking that about the book, or it could have been I read it at a time I just about liked everything. Maybe it was the actors themselves and the way they portrayed their roles.
Anyway, I thought Ethan was supposed to be the hot, popular one, and I guess they attempted to make it seem that way since the hot, popular girl was after him, but I don’t know. He was more of the dorky kind of adorable I guess? But then again, his class is not that big to begin with. I had no problems with Lena except I noticed she doesn’t have great posture, and she walked funny. Macon wasn’t exactly what I had expected, but after a little while, I kind of liked it. And Ridley was really hot, especially in that scandalous, black, lacy dress coming out of the red Z4 – a long ways from the girl-next-door-looking character from Shameless.
Overall, the movie’s not bad at all, but I spent the $10 matinee ticket more out of curiosity than to be blown away. I’m surprised they made a movie out of it at all, but my recommendation is to wait until it’s out on DVD.
Oz The Great and Powerful
On a side note, Annaalese and I watched Oz two weeks ago, and I ended up liking it. It wasn’t awesome, but it was great or a sit-back-relax-and-enjoy-a-cheesy-movie.
It did start out really slow, for those who have seen it, I meant the black and white part. I thought it was one of those flashbacks that will just take a few minutes, but they ended up dragging it out for a while, and I kept thinking that they needed to move on. As Annaalese have said, when it got to the color, it got good.
James Franco was perfect for the part. He was so cheesy, but rightfully done so. And I did have my doubts about Mila Kunis in the first half or so, but she was awesome afterwards (can’t spoil it). And Zach Braff was hilarious as Finley.
I had expected there to be more singing and dancing, and there may have been only one scene? When Oscar was meeting the people of Oz? I’m not exactly sure, since I was recovering from a hard night. But either way, I liked it.
If You Find Me
By: Emily Murdoch
Release Date: March 26, 2013
Rating: 3 stars
|Summary: There are some things you can’t leave behind…A broken-down camper hidden deep in a national forest is the only home fifteen-year-old Carey can remember. The trees keep guard over her threadbare existence, with the one bright spot being Carey’s younger sister, Jenessa, who depends on Carey for her very survival. All they have is each other, as their mentally ill mother comes and goes with greater frequency. Until that one fateful day their mother disappears for good, and two strangers arrive. Suddenly, the girls are taken from the woods and thrust into a bright and perplexing new world of high school, clothes and boys.
Now, Carey must face the truth of why her mother abducted her ten years ago, while haunted by a past that won’t let her go… a dark past that hides many a secret, including the reason Jenessa hasn’t spoken a word in over a year. Carey knows she must keep her sister close, and her secrets even closer, or risk watching her new life come crashing down.
First of all:
MIIIIIIITCH!!!! I FINISHED A BOOK! A BOOK!
*jumps up and down excitedly*
“Sometimes, if you stand on the bottom rail of a bridge and lean over to watch the river slipping slowly away beneath you, you will suddenly know everything there is to be known.”
—WINNIE-THE-POOH, FROM POOH’S LITTLE INSTRUCTION BOOK’
Hmm. Difficult to write a review for this book. Or maybe I got a bit rusty.. Anyways, first of all it wasn’t what I expected. I really was expecting a bit more thriller, suspense and mystery. But that is not really what this book is about.
The book starts right away with the girls being found in their hidden place in the woods after being abandoned by their mom. So the whole point of the book is merely to see how the girls have to adjust theirselves in the modern world. Cause even basic things like toothpaste are unknown for Carey and Nessa.
The story is touchy of course, to see how Carey -being the oldest so she has been through the most- struggles to find her place in her new family with her dad. And with flashbacks the reader gets to know in what miserable conditions the girls really lived for years. Carey playing mother of her little sister, mom often gone, and beans with only thing to eat. But still, although this is all so awful, I didn’t really felt a connection to the girls. I felt bad for them but wasn’t overwhelmed by emotions, if that makes sense.
It’s obvious some really bad stuff happened in the camper, especially with Carey. But I figured out the big secret she is carrying rather quickly (view spoiler). I don’t know if that was the intention of the author, but when the moment arrived that Carey finally tells her dad about it I wasn’t shocked.
Also, we never know what happened to the mom after she wrote a letter that she can’t take care of the girls anymore and where they can be found. After hiding the girls for so many years, why now? That’s a thing that I really want to know. The woman is bipolar and on med, so when she kidnapped Carey it’s obvious she wasn’t sane. Did she had a moment of sanity when she wrote that letter? I wish I got some kind of clue about that in the book.
It’s definitely not a bad read, just not entirely what I expected. And it’s also not that long so perfect to read as a quickie 😉
My Ex From Hell (The Blooming Goddess Trilogy #1)
By: Tellulah Darling
Release Date: April 1, 2013
Rating: 2 stars
|Summary: Sixteen-year-old Sophie Bloom wishes she’d been taught the following:
a) Bad boy’s presence (TrOuBlE) + teen girl’s brain (DraMa) = TrAuMa (Highly unstable and very volatile.)
Prior to the Halloween dance, Sophie figures her worst problems involve adolescent theatrics, bitchy yoga girls, and being on probation at her boarding school for mouthy behaviour. Then she meets bad boy Kai and gets the kiss that rocks her world.
This breath stealing lip lock reawakens Sophie’s true identity: Persephone, Goddess of Spring. She’s key to saving humanity in the war between the Underworld and Olympus, target numero uno of Hades and Zeus, and totally screwed.
Plus there’s also the little issue that Sophie’s last memory as Persephone was just before someone tried to murder her.
Big picture: master her powers, get her memories back, defeat Persephone’s would be assassin, and save the world. Also, sneak into the Underworld to retrieve stolen property, battle the minions of Hades and Zeus, outwit psycho nymphs, slay a dragon, rescue a classmate, keep from getting her butt expelled from the one place designed to keep her safe …
… and stop kissing Kai, Prince of the Underworld.
My Ex From Hell is a romantic comedy/Greek mythology smackdown. Romeo and Juliet had it easy.
Review: I really liked “Sam Cruz’s Infallible Guide to Getting Girls” so I am SO disappointed that I didn’t care for this one. Sam Cruz was a bit shallow and rude, but it was hilarious and fun to read. There were a few good moments, but I just didn’t feel the same about this book.
First of all, I couldn’t connect with the characters. There was just something about Sophie that I just didn’t like. She’s not really the shy girl that gets bullied, nor is she the spunky girl who doesn’t give a crap about what others think. She’s just kind of hard to place. And yes, the queen bee Bethany was a total bitch, but Sophie wasn’t a lovable character herself, and I just did not get the warm and fuzzies from her.
And Kai? I really wish he had made me swoon. Or, I wish he was the type of jerk that frustrated you, but you can’t help but be intrigued and turned on/lured in. But really, he was just an ass in this book. And I just couldn’t help but be annoyed every time Sophie and Kai bickered.
Now the plot itself was just all over the place. It wasn’t that I minded that Darling disregarded pretty much everything we learned in mythology. No, it was I felt a lot happened, and everything rushed by too fast, and I just felt that Darling really didn’t give much thought into all the scenes. I understand this is supposed to be a quick, fun read. But honestly, I’m not sure why she wrote some of the things she did. (see my spoiler on Goodreads)
I don’t know. Maybe it’s because I’ve read so many stories about Hades and Persephone. Or maybe it’s because I’ve been reading a lot of mythology books lately. Or, I don’t know. I know this is not a book to analyze, especially after reading “Sam Cruz,” and I never planned to. It’s just that there were too many holes, and because I couldn’t relate to any of the characters, I just couldn’t like it.
Strands of Bronze and Gold
By: Jane Nickerson
Release Date: March 12, 2013
Rating: 2 Stars
|Summary: When seventeen-year-old Sophia Petheram’s beloved father dies, she receives an unexpected letter. An invitation—on fine ivory paper, in bold black handwriting—from the mysterious Monsieur Bernard de Cressac, her godfather. With no money and fewer options, Sophie accepts, leaving her humble childhood home for the astonishingly lavish Wyndriven Abbey, in the heart of Mississippi.
Sophie has always longed for a comfortable life, and she finds herself both attracted to and shocked by the charm and easy manners of her overgenerous guardian. But as she begins to piece together the mystery of his past, it’s as if, thread by thread, a silken net is tightening around her. And as she gathers stories and catches whispers of his former wives—all with hair as red as her own—in the forgotten corners of the abbey, Sophie knows she’s trapped in the passion and danger of de Cressac’s intoxicating world.
Glowing strands of romance, mystery, and suspense are woven into this breathtaking debut—a thrilling retelling of the “Bluebeard” fairy tale.
What if Bluebeard were a wealthy plantation owner in the Antebellum South? I’ve never pondered that question before reading Strands of Bronze and Gold, but now that I have, it seems to me like Jane Nickerson picked the least interesting way of going about an adaptation. Rather than expanding on or exploring the source material as a good retelling should, hers is a version that does nothing but overembellish the original to the point the result is a book that’s extremely poorly paced.
I suppose some people might call chapter after chapter of ostentatious prose describing architecture, decorations, and *shudders* lots and lots of clothing and jewelry atmospheric, but I’m going to go with tedious, dull, and incredibly boring. A few paragraphs here and there wouldn’t have bother me, and I wasn’t too bored at first, I’m well aware of how to create a haunting atmosphere with just the right details, but Strands of Bronze and Gold just goes on and on and on. By the time a quarter of the book passes and Nickerson’s still creating the mood, setting up the atmosphere with her descriptions of Wyndriven Abbey – yes, yes, it takes place in a creepy English monastery transplanted to the Mississippi countryside, can we please move on? When will Sophia discover the dead wives? Who’ll rescue her? How and why does Bernard become a homicidal maniac? I think knowing this is a Bluebeard adaptation built up a lot of anticipation and expectation that the plot would move quickly, except, even as I’m asking those questions, I’m approaching the halfway point, and I’m still no closer to any answers. In a word, the beginning drags. Hard.
If that wasn’t bad enough, all the characters are pretty much failures for me, even after the story picks up in the second half. Bernard, obviously, is a psychopathic wife killer, but even still I didn’t like the way Nickerson approached his character. The original Bluebeard is sort of an object lesson in idle curiosity (don’t peek in that locked door!), but his descent into homicidal madness actually makes very little sense if you think about it (he couldn’t possibly have killed the first wife for discovering the dead bodies of his previous wives, she is after all, his first wife); Nickerson does include a sort of justification for Bernard’s murderous ways but it just felt really flimsy. And Sophia, Sophia’s reasons for marrying Bernard left a bitter taste in my mouth – for a person who knows how creepy her godfather is, a person who knows how inappropriate it is for a ward to marry her guardian, the fact she willingly submits to the marriage so she could get money to pay off her brother Harry’s gambling debts just didn’t sit right with me. Especially with the way Harry concealed the extent of his losses the first time she gave him money and then asked for more, forcing her into the wedding – I hate how she puts her own safety behind that of a compulsive gambler who’ll probably burn off whatever extra cash she gets him anyway.
If I’m kind of rambling, it’s because the book is kind of rambling, but there are two other things that pop up in the rambling that I want to point out before the rushed ending. The first is a matter of personal taste, but my favorite part of the original Bluebeard is after the wife is discovered, she’s locked in the tower and trying to buy time before Bluebeard kills her, and she keeps asking her sister whether the sister sees her brothers arriving – I read the Perrault years ago and that was the once scene that still sticks in my memory and I’m sorely disappointed of all things Nickerson had to cut from her adaptation (basically nothing), that was the scene that had to go, and with it, all the suspense. Now, it’s just a one and done confrontation. The other is that the plantation setting is completely misused; it’s as if Nickerson picked the setting for the romanticism of the Antebellum South Gone with the Wind style, then thought better of it because slavery is of course wrong and added some shallow nods to abolitionism to make things right, but of course that for me only makes things worse, like acknowledging a bad situation without really getting why it’s wrong.
Anyway, I don’t think Strand of Bronze and Gold is a very good Bluebeard adaptation – it drags at the beginning and is terribly rushed at the end. I didn’t like the characters and the setting was problematic to put it politely, so I can’t say I liked this.
|Period.8||Chris Crutcher||Realistic Fiction
|Shadow on the Sun
(Hell’s Cross #3)
|David Macinnis Gill||Science Fiction
|If You Find Me||Emily Murdoch||Realistic Fiction
|A Touch of Scarlet
|Eve Marie Mont||Historical Fiction
|Going Vintage||Lindsey Leavitt||Contemporary
|Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass||Meg Medina||Contemporary||GR Link|
|With All My Soul
(Soul Screamers #7)
|Dear Life, You Suck||Scott Bladgen||Contemporary
|Susam Kim & Lawrence Klavan||Science Fiction
By: Rachel Shukert
Release Date: March 12, 2013
Rating: 4 Stars
|Summary: A golden age of glam . . .
Every week they arrive in Los Angeles–beautiful and talented young hopefuls who dream of becoming stars. It’s all Margaret Frobisher has ever wanted—and when she’s discovered by a powerful agent, she can barely believe her luck. She’s more than ready to escape her snobby private school and conservative Pasadena family for a chance to light up the silver screen.
The competition is fierce at Olympus Studios and Margaret—now Margo—is chasing her Hollywood dreams alongside girls like Gabby Preston, who at 16 is already a grizzled show-biz veteran caught between the studio and the ravenous ambition of her ruthless mother, and sultry Amanda Farraday, who seems to have it all–ambition, glamour . . . and dirty secrets. Missing from the pack is Diana Chesterfield, the beautiful actress who mysteriously disappeared, and there are whispers that Diana’s boyfriend—Margo’s new co-star—may have had something to do with it. Margo quickly learns that fame comes with a price, and that nothing is what it seems.
Set in Old Hollywood, Starstruck follows the lives of three teen girls as they live, love, and claw their way to the top in a world where being a star is all that matters.
It was one of those nights in Hollywood, the kind that made gossip columnists and newspapermen and the announcers on newsreels say, “It was one of those nights in Hollywood.”
The glamour and magic of old Hollywood may be gone, but Rachel Shukert’s captured the spirit of the era so perfectly, it’s almost as if the Golden Age of film lives on in the pages of Starstruck. My favorite historical fictions are those that feel like magic even though the plot of course calls for no real magic, simply because everything about the subject period, the mood, the atmosphere, the whole works, comes alive as the pages fly by, and Starstruck is definitely such a book. Pure moviemaking magic.
Ok, I have to confess, I’m kind of a film buff. Names like Olivia de Havilland, Katherine Hepburn, and of course Clark Gable mean something to me, but even if theirs create the setting, Starstruck goes much deeper than just a few (famous) name drops. Sure, at its core it’s about three girls trying to make it big, get their names in lights, and the plot when you think about it isn’t so much different than Lauren Conrad’s book of the same name (which I have read, don’t ask), but unlike every other book about girls, fame, and Hollywood, only this Starstruck gives the meaningful insight into a bygone era that qualifies as so much more. And Margaret Frobisher… er Margo Sterling is the best kind of tour guide, because if you want to capture the glamour, tell a story about the movies, well you need a character that reflects the kind of excitement and enthusiasm and energy that’s at the heart of the Hollywood mythos, and hers is an attitude that’s absolutely infectious. Whether she’s excitedly pouring over the pages of the newest issue of Picture Palace, experiencing firsthand the wonder of Olympus Studios that day of her first audition, or even slowly piecing together the dark side behind the fame, I felt like I was there at every moment, and that’s how historical fiction succeeds.
More than that, Rachel Shukert sure knows how to cast a fully immersive spell. It’s not just getting the setting right, making sure the characters are in character, or shoving the anachronisms under the doormat, but it’s like this book lives and breathes 1930s Hollywood. I could approach the effect from many different angles, whether it’s the excitement, the name checking of period cars and designers, perfectly capturing not just the inner workings of a 1930s movie studio, but the atmosphere and tone as well, or even getting the politics of the day just right with characters who are clever reflections of the effects of the then rising Nazism and communism on the movies, but even for those who haven’t watched hours of documentaries on the subject, it’s easy to appreciate that Starstruck is a book that gets Hollywood’s Golden Age. And it’s the little things, Margaret’s father’s rant, director Raoul Kurtzman’s story, that line about the Karps and Goldwyns and the other power players of the movie business not being allowed into the Pasadena Country Club, that really sell it. For a classic movie buff, experiencing all of that is the fun.
If there is a problem, it’s that yeah the plot is still about three would-be starlets trying to make it big in Hollywood. It’s overdone, and Starstruck still follows the same basic pattern of a girl swept up by the glamour before she’s exposed to the dark side beneath the glamour while her not-quite-friends and sometimes rivals deal with their own problems, their stories intersecting at various points. Still, a few things do set Starstruck above the field – Margo’s story, even if overdone, works because hers alone is an exploration of a time most of us can only see in black and white – although she desperately needs a better best friend. And while Starstruck is about Margo, and Gabby, and Amanda, the specter of Margo’s missing predecessor Diana Chesterfield looms over everything, and it works as a reminder that, even as Margo climbs towards fame, something bigger, something from the nasty underbelly of Hollywood, is lurking in the background, waiting for that one slip up.
It’s easy to dismiss Starstruck as just another in a long line of entries starring a trio of would-be Hollywood starlets. It would also be a mistake. Starstruck is really a celebration of Hollywood’s Golden Age, and as a fan, I’m a fan.