Saturday, March 31, 2012

The Hunger Games Movie Review

Alright guys, so I know I'm a week late. I just couldn't make opening weekend happen this time. My friends, Kay, Amanda, Paula, and my huband Russ, went with me to see The Hunger Games the movie last night. And of course, I really enjoyed it. Since it was originally a book, I feel like it is not too far out of the scope of my blog to review it, so that's what I'm going to do.

This might be a hugely small thing, but I was looking in the video they showed at the Reaping from the Capitol for the mockingjay in the corner of the video. Now maybe the one they showed at the Reaping is a different video than the one discussed in the later books, but I was hoping they'd include that.

Next, no cannons went off when Rue died or the other guy that Katniss shot in the same scene. I definitely missed that.

Also, for someone who might not have read the books but went to see the movie, I don't think they would really understand how the relationship between Katniss and Peeta was played up as part of their strategy in the Games. It is true that even Katniss and Peeta don't know how much is real and how much was faked for the benefit of everyone watching the Games, but that just really wasn't portrayed clearly enough. I found myself forgetting while watching the movie and had to keep reminding myself. It would have been nice to see that Katniss had to earn the presents from Haymitch by doing just that--playing up their relationship. The one parachute with the message "you call that a kiss" isn't enough to drive home that point.

They did a good job, in my opinion, showing the bakery scene. Specifically, showing it multiple times. But I don't know that the emotion and desperateness (if that's a word) that Katniss was feeling in that moment really came across. She was starving. She literally didn't think she was going to make it. Peeta throwing her that bread literally saved her life. And Katniss feels an obligation to Peeta because of that. She owes him. He saved her life. She has to return the favor.

I will say that I really enjoyed seeing the behind the scenes stuff with the game maker and such. That was a nice added touch. And while alot of the stuff makes sense while reading the books--the way the people of the Capitol dress and such--really comes off as weird in the movie, but that's okay. And I guess, lastly, I'd like to add that my friend, Amanda, was very distraught that Buttercup was a black and white cat. Though that part didn't bother me at all. Overall, I was very impressed with the movie. Looking forward to the others in the future. Go see The Hunger Games movie.

Notes to Self - Review

Notes to Self

By: Avery Sawyer

Published: November 20th 2011

266 pages

Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Realistic Fiction

Source: Borrowed from Amazon Kindle Prime Lending Library

( Goodreads | Amazon )

*Note: The above link to Amazon is an affiliate link. Affiliate links support giveaways for Somewhere Only We Know readers.

Goodreads description--Two climbed up. Two fell down.

One woke up.

Robin Saunders is a high school sophomore with an awesome best friend, a hard-working single mom, and a complicated relationship with a sweet guy named Reno. She's coasting along, trying to get through yet another tedious year of high school, when Em suggests something daring. They live in Florida-- tourist central--and Emily wants to sneak into a theme park after midnight and see what they're made of.

When things get out of control, Robin wakes up in a hospital bed and Emily doesn't wake up at all. Just getting dressed becomes an ordeal as Robin tries to heal and piece together the details of that terrible night. Racing to remember everything in the hopes of saving Emily, Robin writes a series of notes to herself to discover the truth.

Notes to Self by Avery Sawyer gets 4 stars.

This book is about 15 year old Robin who, along with her best friend Emily, climbs a rollercoaster at a local amusement park. Robin and Emily both fall causing Emily to be in a coma and Robin to have a traumatic brain injury. While Emily remains in the hospital, Robin has to go back to her life. But life isn't so easy for Robin. She feels like she doesn't know who she is, and she's not sure she knew before the accident either. So, she proceeds to write notes to herself about the things she likes, how to get to her classes, how to open her locker, her favorite candy, etc. And thus she begins to figure out who she is.

Notes to Self gave me a new perspective on some things. I suppose you never think about what it would be like to have a traumatic brain injury unless someone you know has had one and you might wish to relate or empathize. But this book does a really good job of showing what someone with such an injury might have to go through. For instance, Robin realizes that she has feelings for a longtime friend, Reno, but Reno doesn't accept her feelings for him. Because she showed no signs of an attraction to him before her accident, he doesn't trust her current feelings--worrying that those feelings might go away with time as her injury heals. I would have never thought about how no one would trust your ability to make decisions because you're "different" than you were before, or because you "can't think correctly" since you have a brain injury.

I found it a smidge hard to believe that everyone at her school would treat her the way they do--horribly. I mean sure teenagers can be awful, mean, and bullying has become a major issue these days. I can imagine that some kids that didn't like Robin before might continue feeling that way towards her, but just random kids....I don't know. She has a brain injury. It's not something that can be helped. HOWEVER, considering the way that children with mental disorders are treated sometimes, I suppose it's really not that far fetched--which is horrible.

Because of her injuries, Robin learns what's really important in life. She appreciates life now that she's been close to death, and since Emily isn't able to live her's anymore. There are lessons here that we could all stand to learn.

I read through this one pretty quickly. The fall happens in either the first or second chapter, so you don't have to wait long for the story to begin. I really enjoyed my 2nd Amazon Prime Kindle Lending Library book, Notes to Self by Avery Sawyer. Check it out. 4 Stars.

Have you read Notes to Self? What did you think? Let me know!

Updated: February 2, 2015

Friday, March 23, 2012

Clockwork Prince - Review

Clockwork Prince (The Infernal Devices, # 2)

By: Cassandra Clare

Published: December 6th 2011 by Simon & Schuster, Margaret K. McElderry

502 pages

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Paranormal, Steampunk, Angels, Vampires

Source: Personal Library

( Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository )

*Note: The above links to Amazon and Book Depository are affiliate links. Affiliate links support giveaways for Somewhere Only We Know readers.

Goodreads description--In the magical underworld of Victorian London, Tessa Gray has at last found safety with the Shadowhunters. But that safety proves fleeting when rogue forces in the Clave plot to see her protector, Charlotte, replaced as head of the Institute. If Charlotte loses her position, Tessa will be out on the street—and easy prey for the mysterious Magister, who wants to use Tessa’s powers for his own dark ends.

With the help of the handsome, self-destructive Will and the fiercely devoted Jem, Tessa discovers that the Magister’s war on the Shadowhunters is deeply personal. He blames them for a long-ago tragedy that shattered his life. To unravel the secrets of the past, the trio journeys from mist-shrouded Yorkshire to a manor house that holds untold horrors, from the slums of London to an enchanted ballroom where Tessa discovers that the truth of her parentage is more sinister than she had imagined. When they encounter a clockwork demon bearing a warning for Will, they realize that the Magister himself knows their every move—and that one of their own has betrayed them.

Tessa finds her heart drawn more and more to Jem, but her longing for Will, despite his dark moods, continues to unsettle her. But something is changing in Will—the wall he has built around himself is crumbling. Could finding the Magister free Will from his secrets and give Tessa the answers about who she is and what she was born to do?

As their dangerous search for the Magister and the truth leads the friends into peril, Tessa learns that when love and lies are mixed, they can corrupt even the purest heart.

Ah….That was a sigh. I know you can’t hear it, but that’s what it was. I’ve needed this book. Yes, I’ve read books recently that I couldn’t put down, some because I had the opportunity to read without much interruption and some because they’ve just been that good, but I’ll say it again…I needed this book. Clockwork Prince has been one of those books that I absolutely HAD to know what was going to happen from the very beginning. Of course Clockwork Angel ended in such a way that piqued my curiosity and I was fully prepared to be enthralled, and I was, while at the same time fully prepared to be disappointed, which I was not.

Before beginning Clockwork Prince I was decidedly frustrated. The City of Fallen Angels left me very unsatisfied and all I could see from Clockwork Angel was repeating patterns of story arc and that was my perception and expectation with starting Clockwork Prince. It was also the exact reason why I didn’t rush to purchase it on the release date and even waited three months after receiving the book (at Christmas) to pick it up. However, my faith in Cassie Clare and her writing has been restored. And thank God for that! I feel, even though Cassandra Clare will probably never read this post, that I should apologize for my lack of faith as I had to do in my review of Maggie Stiefvater's Linger.

Yes there are similarities between the overall arc of The Mortal Instruments and what I’ve seen so far from The Infernal Devices, but it isn’t the same story as I might have once feared. Yes, Jace and Will bear a lot of resemblance in demeanor and history (Jace fearing that to love means to kill, Will fearing to be loved is to kill) despite the fact that they are essentially related. And Clary and Tessa both falling for the boy who treats them badly. Not to mention, it take three books each time to find resolution with the villain (and the romance). I have to admit, that is still one of my least favorite things about these books compared to some other series that have a new war to fight and a new villain to defeat with every book in the series.

But all of that can’t compete with the sheer frustration I felt every time I had to put this book down (which is a good thing, one of the best determinants in my opinion of a good book). I had to force myself to go to bed, to stop reading at work when breaks and lunches were over. This book got under my skin and it drove me crazy with wanting. There’s plenty of “moments”—you know the ones, the meadow scene in Twilight, when Edward leaves in New Moon, the bed and proposal scenes from Eclipse, when Rose and Dimitri kiss for the first time in Vampire Academy, the cabin scene from Shadow Kiss, the part where Rose asks ghost Mason if Dimitri is Stirgoi also in Shadow Kiss, where Elias tackles Gabry after she’s killed Daniel and covered in his blood in The Dead Tossed Waves, when Darcy proposes to Elizabeth the first time in Pride and Prejudice, Captain Wentworth's letter to Anne in Persuasion, I could keep going—that kept me wanting for more and more and more. Moments that make you scream “NO!!!!!!!!!” as well as moments that make you cry “YES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” This is the book I’ve been missing.

Cassandra Clare’s Clockwork Prince, 5 stars. Read it. I will probably be jumping on Clockwork Princess as soon as it releases instead of waiting this time...though there's still no release date for that at this point.

P.S. I highly suggest reading The Mortal Instruments series and The Infernal Devices series in order of their release dates. Meaning read in this order: City of Bones, City of Ashes, City of Glass, Clockwork Angel, City of Fallen Angels, Clockwork Prince, City of Lost Souls, Clockwork Princess (assuming this comes out before the next one), and finally City of Heavenly Fire (currently set to release in March of 2014). The reason for this is that there are some small cross overs between The Mortal Instruments and The Infernal Devices that can't be appropriately appreciated unless experienced as they were meant to be.

Have you read Clockwork Prince? What did you think? Let me know!

Updated: February 2, 2015

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Torment - Review

Torment (Fallen, # 2)

By: Lauren Kate

Published: September 28th 2010 by Delacorte Press

452 pages

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Paranormal, Supernatural, Angels

Source: Borrowed from my friend, Paula

( Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository )

*Note: The above links to Amazon and Book Depository are affiliate links. Affiliate links support giveaways for Somewhere Only We Know readers.

Goodreads description--How many lives do you need to live before you find someone worth dying for?

In the aftermath of what happened at Sword & Cross, Luce has been hidden away by her cursed angelic boyfriend, Daniel, in a new school filled with Nephilim, the offspring of fallen angels and humans. Daniel promises she will be safe here, protected from those who would kill her. At the school Luce discovers what the Shadows that have followed her all her life mean – and how to manipulate them to see into her other lives. Yet the more Luce learns about herself, the more she realizes that the past is her only key to unlocking her future . . . and that Daniel hasn't told her everything. What if his version of the past isn't actually the way things happened . . . what if Luce was really meant to be with someone else?

The second novel in the addictive FALLEN series...where love never dies.

I feel kind of bad with my last couple of ratings. Don't get me wrong, I rate each book as I genuinely feels it deserves to be rated according to my own tastes and opinions. But 3 stars is not a "bad" rating. According to my rating scale, 3 Stars means "pretty good, I liked it." That being said, I'm sure you can tell that I'm giving Torment 3 stars.

I don't really have much to say about the book, and I think more than anything that's the reason why I'm giving it 3 stars. Luce was kind of annoying throughout the book, always complaining about what Daniel wasn't telling her. I wanted to yell at her "What part about you exploding in the past are you missing? Too much information too fast has been your downfall more than once. Give the guy a break." The whining was just getting old. Yet, if I put myself in her shoes, I don't like being out of control myself, and you can't really be in control without knowledge.

Through the book, I worried that Luce and Daniel's relationship that's portrayed as a soul-mate, life-long love relationship was going to turn out to be...well...not. And don't worry, I won't give it away. But Luce steps up and makes some tough decisions--decisions that make me believe her to be more mature and true with her feelings than some other leading ladies I've read (Nora from the Hush, Hush series anyone?).

Overall, I enjoyed it. The storyline moved pretty quickly and I'm looking forward to reading Passion and the other books in this series in the future--it might be a while, I've got quite the stack of books waiting to be read. Check it out, Torment by Lauren Kate, 3 stars.

Have you read Torment? What did you think? Let me know!

Updated: February 2, 2015

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

The Shack - Review

The Shack: Where Tragedy Confronts Eternity

By: William Paul Young

Published: July 1st 2007 by Windblown Media

252 pages

Genre: Adult, Christian Fiction, Spirituality, Inspirational

Source: Borrowed from my friend Kay

( Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository )

*Note: The above links to Amazon and Book Depository are affiliate links. Affiliate links support giveaways for Somewhere Only We Know readers.

Goodreads description--Mackenzie Allen Philips' youngest daughter, Missy, has been abducted during a family vacation, and evidence that she may have been brutally murdered is found in an abandoned shack deep in the Oregon wilderness. Four years later in the midst of his "Great Sadness," Mack receives a suspicious note, apparently from God, inviting him back to that shack for a weekend.

Against his better judgment he arrives at the shack on a wintry afternoon and walks back into his darkest nightmare. What he finds there will change Mack's world forever.

In a world where religion seems to grow increasingly irrelevant The Shack wrestles with the timeless question, "Where is God in a world so filled with unspeakable pain?" The answers Mack gets will astound you and perhaps transform you as much as it did him. You'll want everyone you know to read this book!

Alright guys…*sigh*…here’s the low-down on The Shack by Wm. Paul Young. I have a friend, let’s call her Kay, who was recommended to read this book, and so she did, and she loved it. Kay does read, however, typically I wouldn’t say she’s an avid reader. But she was hooked on this book. Finished it in just a couple of days, I believe. So another mutual friend, let’s call her Amanda, decides she’s going to read it next. Now Amanda typically is a reader, well she was—though I don’t really understand how but she’s taken a bit of a break from reading on a regular basis. Anyway, Amanda reads it next and she’s hooked. She literally finishes it in two nights, staying up until 1:00 am the first night. So I’m stoked, right? If two of my friends have read this book and blown through it that quickly of course, I will love it and finish it within days too, right? WRONG!!!!

Honestly, I don’t know if I just rebel against books that have been talked up too much to me, or what, but I started The Shack totally expecting to finish it in two days max, and it took me over a month, perhaps close to two. I even took breaks in the middle of it to read other books. That being said, let me tell you what I thought about the content.

I think one reason I really struggled with the book is that I would get going at a good pace and something would come up or be said that I just flat didn’t agree with—mostly theological stuff and beliefs that I have about God. And that was really a turn off for me. I literally had to keep repeating to myself “it’s just fiction, it’s just fiction, it’s just fiction.” Also let me say for the record that there were more parts I agreed with than disagreed with. But over time I got to thinking that the purpose of this book, The Shack, isn’t so much to convert the reader into believing every aspect about God that it discusses. The purpose of this book is to challenge your thinking about God and your view of Him—specifically every aspect, characteristic, and manifestation of Him. And it did just that for me. I was challenged. Initially there were parts that I would reject as false immediately, and others that made me stop and think and eventually I agreed with.

That being said, I feel like while it wasn’t an “easy” read in the blow-through-it kind of way, it was a good read. And I definitely feel like I brought something away from the story with me that I can take and apply to my everyday life. And that I think is a success. While I can only give The Shack a maximum of 3 stars, I would recommend it to others. Specifically those who need a refresher or a second look at their view of God. At the same time, I’d have to give them the disclaimer that I don’t agree with everything this book says about God and that they should not take this book for the authority on God, but go to the Bible for that. The only real revelation that we have of our Creator, Protector, Comforter, Healer, Savior, Friend, Strong Tower, Prince of Peace, Light, Love, Son of Man, Son of God, Holy Spirit.

Last thing I’ll add to my review of The Shack, and maybe some will consider this a small thing, but there’s not a single reference in the Bible where a human being came before a manifestation of God (the Spirit Being, not including Jesus while He walked the earth in human flesh) where that human being did not fall on their face in front of their Maker out of sheer reverence for His Being. Just a slight pet peeve for this book.

Again, The Shack by Wm. Paul Young gets 3 Stars, worth checking out. Have you read The Shack? What did you think? Let me know!

Updated: February 1, 2015