Mar
2016

Batman V Superman – Review

Batman-V-Superman-Dawn-of-Justice

This review is going to contain spoilers. This has been your warning…

3  …2 … 1 …

All right – here we go.

I gave Batman V Superman a 7 out of 10 stars. Spousal Unit and I went to our local haunt to discuss the movie.

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Here are my 10 points:

1. Jesse Eisenberg was wonderful as Lex Luthor. He was wonderfully creepy. The final scene with him in the prison cell was WONDERFUL! I look forward to seeing him again.

2. Ben Affleck was as awful as I thought. Flat, boring, no emotion, no nothing. UGH.

3. The dream sequences? One? Maybe. Two? GADS!!! Three? HELP ME!!!! Come on! A lot of the previews for the movie showed conflicts that didn’t exist in “reality.” Were they supposed to be portents of what’s to come? I don’t care. Batman is NOT PSYCHIC!!!

4. Most of the first hour was a waste of time. The opening scene (Superman fighting Zod) was wonderful. It gave a really good reasoning for the rest of the movie. The desert scene? Sure. It gave a good reason for why the world (and Batman) disliked Superman. But 40-ish of the first hour? UGH!

5. Gal Gadot was – and is going to be – a GREAT Wonder Woman! Believable. And powerful!

6. I usually have an issue with multiple villains. However, this movie worked for me. Batman versus Superman versus Lex Luthor versus Doomsday? Awesome. The “gladiator” match was quite good. The buff Batman in his super-armour suit was believable versus Superman. Lex Luthor as the brilliant – yet insane – villain was a great foil for both men. And Doomsday’s ability to kick some serious booty versus Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman was nicely done (the CGI was AMAZING!!!)

7. Amy Adams. I’m a fan of Amy. And I was mostly a fan of Lois Lane. Adams played Lois as mostly a strong character (smart and sassy), but the use of her as Superman’s weakness (whether intentional with Lex throwing her off the roof – or unintentional with her near-drowning) was a little tired.

8. Damned movie looked like a Dodge Charger advertisement a few times. Really?

9. Costuming was fabulous. Like I mentioned above, the Batman Super Suit was great (albeit a little Robocop-looking). Superman’s uniform was gorgeous! He looked like he has scales. And it worked!

10. Previews of the movies to come? Nice introduction to Aquaman, the Flash, Cyborg – and OF COURSE Wonder Woman!

Bonus…

11. Great cameos by a few familiar faces: Neil DeGrasse Tyson, Soledad O’Brien, Anderson Cooper, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Lauren Cohan, and OF COURSE General Zod!

Dec
2013

Review: Bugs in My Hair!

Ugh! Oh ugh!

Not a comment on the author’s writing or the subject matter (at least not directly). However, a comment about how ITCHY MY HEAD IS NOW!!

Bugs in My Hair! is about – yes, you got it – head lice. Oh gosh – my head is itching me as I type this!

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A testament to David Shannon’s writing – and his illustrations – Bugs in My Hair! comes through with it’s back-cover promise: “WARNING: This book will make you ITCHY!”

 

Oct
2010

Bruiser by Neal Shusterman (a review)

BruiserBruiser by Neal Shusterman

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I haven’t blown through a 300+ word book in less than a day in a long, long time. I started this at bedtime, thinking that I would read for ½ an hour and then sleep. I read for nearly 2 hours – until I was exhausted and couldn’t focus on the story.

This morning, I picked it up and zoomed through it!

Absolutely fantastic!

Both with realistic and (light) fantasy elements, Bruiser is a literary vortex that sucked me in and didn’t let go – even now that I have finished the book. This is the story of Brewster Rawlins, a boy with a loner reputation – and the leave-me-alone personality to go with it.

Or so it seems.

When Brewster is be-friended by Bronte and Tennyson, his life becomes more of an open book. He likes to read Ginsberg, play basketball, and protect his 8-year-old brother from their mean, spiteful, drunk of an uncle. But he holds a secret that he isn’t willing to reveal – even if it means a world of hurt for him.

Ellen Hopkins (of Crank fame) writes that this is a “dark and darkly humorous, intense and intensely satisfying” read. Yup!

View all my reviews

Sep
2010

Hater by David Moody (a review)

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Amid the governmental warnings, “Do Not Panic,” “Remain Calm,” “Take Shelter,” and “Wait For Further Instructions,” seemingly-nice citizens of an urban metropolis start killing each other. It’s only a few incidents at first, but the violence escalates and the killers are dubbed “Haters” by the media.
Fear is the order of the day as people are slaughtered by strangers, friends, co-workers, and family. The Haters kill with whatever they have: guns, knives, rocks, their bare hands. Frenzied attacks become more and more commonplace. And in the life of Danny McCoyne, family man and man without ambition, protecting his family becomes increasingly important.
It seems pretty cut and dry as the reader tears through the pages of the novel to get to the truth: “who are the Haters…?” And at the end, do we really know? For some of us, yes.
Dubbed “brutal” and “eerie and violent,” the dark and controversial Hater is definitely not for the weak of stomach. Me? I’ve got the constitution of a person who has read and watched horror for more than 4 decades. I was weaned on Bela Lugosi films and grew up with Stephen King novels. A friend once said – because it is rare that something like this scares me – that I must be “dead inside.”
With that said, Hater did not scare me or put me on a “head-spinning thrill ride” (Guillermo del Toro), but it did give me pause and made me think of our world and what we do to one another in the name of religion, patriotism, democracy, and peace. And I sit here contemplating (as many of us do – and have) who are the Haters? If nothing else, this book will give the reader another launching point in considering the state of our world – and the future of humankind.
The first of (at least) 4 books, the Hater series seems destined to offer nightmares, start important conversations, and (minimally) keep the reader glued to their seat (or bed pillow) until the end.
Aug
2009

Book Review: Take Joy, A Writer’s Guide to Loving the Craft

I borrowed Jane Yolen’s Take Joy, A Writer’s Guide to Loving the Craft from the local library and it sat on my coffee table for nearly three weeks. I never really thought about it, but took comfort in the “take joy” part of the title. Yes, I have been taking joy in my writing process. But some days, it’s a struggle.

I found myself in one of those struggle-places yesterday, so I thought I would crack open the book and partake in Yolen’s advice.

Much to my chagrin, I didn’t make it past page 51. I wasn’t feeling the joy.

There are pieces of really good advice: a quote from Louis Pasteur (“Chance favors the mind that is prepared”), listings of publications to read in order to keep a finger on the pulse of publishing (Publisher’s Lunch was new to me), and open and honest advice about the business of publishing (“trust me, it’s just business”).

But for all of these good points, I found Yolen’s book full of snide comments and through-the-back-door critiques which didn’t offer “joy” to me as a hopeful author.

Some examples:

Kalliope

In a discussion about Kalliope and how stories can bring joy or “hurt your ears,” Yolen offers harsh critiques of Love You Forever, The Giving Tree, Hannibal, Ludlum thrillers, psychological self-help books, New Age (which she references as “woo woo” or “newage to rhyme with sewage”), and romance novels.

Don’t get me wrong, but her points about the first two books gave me pause to rethink how I look at children’s books and the messages that they offer (a feminist critique). And I was in perfect agreement with her about her critique of Hannibal (unbelievable ending).

But is the proper venue in a book that offers writers the promise of finding joy in their writing?

Metaphors

On page 51, Yolen offers a story about a letter she received from a child who read her book Owl Moon. In this section of the book, she is discussing the use of metaphors in stories.

“Of course, I once got a letter from a child who wrote, “I love the meddlefurs [metaphors] in Owl Moon.” … I think the meddler in this case was the teacher. Besides, Owl Moon mostly has similes, not metaphors. We must be ever pedagogically correct.”

In an otherwise lovely discussion about metaphors, the use of metaphors, and examples of metaphors, Yolen has to throw in this snide comment, which only detracts from the point she is making about metaphors.

Facile

So, I lied a little bit above. I ended up glancing through the book in case I could find something that could entice me to read more of the book. What did I find? More snide comments and opinions:

On pages 71 – 72, in a section entitled Be Care of Being Facile, Yolen offers a best-advice comment from an editor “do not be beguiled by your own facility.” Nice advice – in an appropriate place and to the appropriate person, in my opinion.

Yolen then gives examples of writers who are facile (including herself in a final exam example). She calls the concept “party tricks.” She lists two very popular authors, Barbara Cartland and R.L. Stine (the Goosebump series) and notes “interchangeable sets of ciphers acting out a plot-by-the-numbers. Party tricks.” I think her point could have been made without stabbing at other authors.

In each of these examples of my displeasure, I do agree that there are appropriate places for these comments and critiques.

But not in a book that promises us that it will help us “take joy” and offer us a “guide to loving the craft.”

This is the kind of book that I would have purchased (used, most likely) based upon the title. But I am glad that I didn’t. It didn’t offer me what it promised. Instead, I’d like to offer a different title for your consideration: “Taking the Joy Out Of Writing”.

I was very disappointed.