Monday Progress Report

Reviews Posted Last Week:
Sacred Seas by Karen Amanda Hooper
Old Man’s War by John Scalzi

What I did Last Week

Read

Well, I didn’t do too much reading last week. I did read Night of Cake And Puppets, which I had been wanting to read for some time now, but only got around to it now since I got my hard cover copy, as I don’t care for reading books on my ereader. I liked this one, but I didn’t love it as much as the main books in the series. I’ll be posting a full review of this one soon.

 

Watched

Much like my reading, I didn’t really watch much TV this week. I did watch an episode of Recovery Of An MMO Junkie, and I’m still really enjoying this new series. We also watched the latest episode of Star Wars Rebels. On Wednesday I got my copy of Your Name, so we had to watch it that night. This is such a great movie and even the boy loved it. Needless to say, I watched it every day after that as well. For Family Movie Night we ended up watching My Dog Skip, which was good, but not as good as I remembered it being.

Life

Life was pretty dull last week. I honestly didn’t do much, because I was lacking in motivation. Hell, I barely even did any writing as well, so now I’m quite behind on my word count for NaNoWriMo.

What I Plan To Do This Week

Reading

No real plans with this. I may read, may not. We shall see.

Watching

I will probably continue to watch Your Name throughout the week because I just love it so much. I will also be catching up on the latest episodes from Star Wars Revels and Recovery Of An MMO Junkie. I’m not sure if I will try to catch up on my PVR stuff or leave it for later.

Life

I really need to buckle down and catch up on my writing. I didn’t write for 5-6 days last week, so I have quite a bit of word to write in order to get not only caught up but be in a good position to finish NaNoWriMo and win.

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Movie Review: The Day The Earth Stood Still

You know a movie is going to be good whent he first line is “Holy Mackerel!” Especially when it’s followed very shortly by, “Holy Christmas!” So good!

I will admit, that initially I was a bit annoyed that the alien looked so much like a human, but I quickly pushed that thought away. After all, if he didn’t look like a human, then we would have one heck of a time blending into society.

The pace of this movie was really good. Sure, it was slow at times, but overall, I felt like the time just flew by while watching this and suddenly it was done.

I am so glad that I watched this one, especially since I didn’t think I would like it. I often find older movies to be lackluster due to a variety of reasons, but this was such a treat to watch. I would definitely recommend people to watch this one if they haven’t.

I know that this one has been remade and I may watch it at some point, if I can get past the fact that Keanu Reeves is in it, but I feel like it just won’t hold a candle to the original movie and will be too bogged down by CG and special effects that take away from the story – if they remember to include any. We’ll see. Perhaps that will be a review that will appear in next years SciFi Month.

Movie Review: Elysium

A couple of years ago, my husband watched the movie Elysium and told me that I should watch it. Of course I added it to my to-watch list, but as inevitably happens, I kept putting it off. Finally, this year, I made time to watch it, because I wanted to knock several scifi movies I had been putting off for some time now.

I found that the pace of the movie was a bit slow. I understand that things need to be established, but sometimes I just wished that there was more action or other things to pick up the pace a bit.

I did find it realistic feeling that in the future, as the world crumbles, it is the rich and privileged that escape to this paradise in space, leaving the poor behind. Yet, despite all this, they still seem to rely on those poor in ways, such as manufacturing robots. It makes total sense for this to happen. Even in the future, as we leave earth behind, the rich will still run things and make the poor suffer.

I didn’t feel any real connections to the characters. There was a nice mix of different characters, but overall, I didn’t get that pull to root for certain characters like I would have liked to.

As far as technology goes, which is often the best part of scifi, overall, I didn’t find too much in this movie to be unique. The medical beds that could diagnose and cure everything, at least it seemed like everything, was very intriguing. I mean, come on, that guy had his face blown off and a few seconds in a medical machine and boom he’s back to normal.

Overall, this was an okay, borderline good, movie. If you haven’t watched it yet, and are thinking about it, I say give it a shot. There is a very good chance that people will enjoy this one.

Book Review: Old Man’s War

My rating: 3 out of 5 stars

I will admit, that I was hesitant to listen to this audiobook. After listening to Redshirts, which I reviewed earlier this month, I was worried that this book would be bogged down with “he said, she said” dialogue much like Redshirts was. While there was a lot of “said” used in this book, there were at least other descriptors used as well, so that alone made the book more enjoyable.

The narrator, William Dugris, was a bit boring at times. His voice often had a flat, almost monotone quality to it, which at times made listening a chore, because my mind would wander away from the story. Overall, it wasn’t too bad to listen to, I just had to make sure to really pay attention. He did do a pretty decent job of giving each character their own unique voice.

I found the concept of the book interesting. The idea to recruit old people to a war effort, seems very unorthodox, even with the promise of anti-aging, so I was definitely curious to see how it would work out.

I felt like things were explained well enough. It didn’t feel bogged down by scientific jargon, but some explanations weren’t perfect – like the discussion about how the “beanstalk” didn’t follow the laws of physics. I get that things like that need to be explained or else readers will complain that it was missing valuable information, but then at times those descriptions feels like they go too deep.

It was nice to have a book where the main characters are older. So many books have characters from their teens to thirties, with the only older people being grandparents or elders, and they get small roles. Of course this changed as the book progress, what with the anti-aging process happening, but it was entertaining while it lasted. And yes, I understand that, in a way, those characters are still 70+ mentally, but it certainly changed things to have them also younger again.

Things got a little weird after the “anti-aging process”.

My interest started to wane a bit about the half way point when the characters were going through all their training. I don’t know if it’s because my interest in the story had lessened or if the narrators voice was just making me not care, but I definitely had to keep reminding myself to pay attention and listen to it or else I might miss everything.

There was a decent amount of action in this book, especially in the last quarter of it. I found a few of the characters to be great additions to John, but overall, I didn’t find that any of them stood out. I get that it was technically Johns story and thus the focus was on him, but I would have liked to see a bit more from the other characters – though maybe I will if I continue with the series. I also wish we could have seen more alien species, as there were only a few mentioned and most of those were just minor “oh look there’s a __” and that was it.

I may eventually continue on with this series, but I am in no major rush to. I am glad that I finally got around to this book.

Book Review: Sacred Seas

My rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Sometimes a book catches you by surprise, grabs hold of you and takes you on a beautiful, emotionally charged journey. This is how I felt throughout the entirety of The Sea Monster Memoirs trilogy. Tangled Tides set the foundation for it all, giving us a story about finding oneself, facing challenges head on and getting the love that you deserve. Dangerous Depths took that foundation and shook it hard, testing the characters even more and forming this beautiful tale of sorrow and perseverance. Sacred Seas came along, taking the best of both of those books, and added in new emotion, depth, trials and pushing the characters to their limits, setting us up one hell of a ride.

I do not normally read emotional books, yet Karen’s writing style allows me to enjoy feeling those emotions along with the characters. Getting that pulse of happiness, sorrow, anger, fear, elation, and that everything those characters experience, I experienced and it made me love the characters and the story even more. There is something almost refreshing when a book causes you to pause while reading and reflect on what it must be like to go through such trials and to come out the other side as a stronger person.

Let’s talk characters for a moment. One neat aspect of this trilogy, is that each book has a different set of narrators. While Yara is always one of the narrators, the other two change in each book. I feel like this really helps to showcase different aspects of the story and world, to present a well rounded tale. Having a multitude of perspectives spread throughout three books is surely a challenge to write, and yet Karen has tackled that and done it well. Her writing style has changed since the beginning of the series, and it’s a wonderful thing to see not just the story and characters evolve along the way, but the writer as well.

Then there is the Kraken. He is a force to be reckoned with. Though Yara and the others have had their fair share of obstacles to overcome, he brings a whole new meaning to the word challenge.

One aspect I really enjoy in this book is the character flaws. Of course we want characters to succeed. But not everything can, or should, come with ease. Things that may be obvious to us readers, aren’t always obvious to the characters, and when they do make those bad decisions (I’m looking at you Rownan!) there is bound to be consequences down the line. What they do when faced with those consequences really makes them grow as a character. I am glad to see these flaws included, because it makes the characters more realistic. No one is perfect.

The flow of this book is great. A little slow to start with as things are set into place, but then it picks up and doesn’t slow down. Each chapter pulls you along, diving into the next challenge that the characters must face and propelling you closer to the end. I couldn’t put this book down, since I kept wanting to know what would happen next, how would Yara, Treygan, Rownan and everyone else manage to get past their next major roadblock.

Scared Seas is a gift. Much like Medusa’s agape pearl, this story truly shines throughout. With it’s stellar fast-paced plot, multifaceted story, wonderful character growth, and a healthy dose of magic, myth and finding that delicate balance between love and loss, triumph and tragedy, and light and dark, Sacred Seas is the series ending that we deserve. This series has solidly placed itself in my list of favorites.

Movie Review: Rogue One

This review contains spoilers!

Okay, let’s get this over with.

I didn’t like Rogue One.

Yeah, that’s right, a person who loves Star Wars didn’t like Rogue One.

I’m sure you are wondering why. Well, let me tell you.

I was excited about Rogue One. I love that Star Wars will continue on, even if the gaps before, between and after the two trilogies will no longer follow the Expanded Universe stories that are found in the books. But I digress.

When all the hype over Rogue One coming out was happening, I was trying my hardest to avoid all of it. In fact, I only watched the first trailer that was released, ignoring all other teasers and trailers. I wanted to go into this movie knowing nothing – well as nothing as you can get when it fills in part of the gap between the third and fourth episodes. I didn’t want to know who these new characters were, nor did I want to know about he recurring characters – and there were quite a few of them, from the trilogies and The Clone Wars series.

Can we talk about the lack of crawl? Because honestly, I thought that was Disney’s first mistake. We all knew ahead of time there wasn’t going to be a crawl, since apparently only Episodes get those and not in between movies,because the details aren’t important or some shit like that, but I felt like without the crawl I was watching just another SciFi movie.

Can we talk (complain) about the characters for a moment. I had such a hard time liking any of the characters in this movie, except Tarkin, because I love Tarkin and was so glad they included him. I felt like so many of the characters lacked any real dimension to them. They were simply just there to fill in space in the scenes. The one that stood out the most to me in this way was Bodhi, the pilot. He seemed to be disjointed from the story too much, he was there but, I don’t know, I wasn’t convinced they really needed him. Yeah, yeah, they did, because he knew shit about something or whatever, but yeah he felt useless to me. By far Jyn was my least favorite character. She was so unconvincing the whole time. She fought so hard against doing what everyone wanted her to do and then suddenly she was all “Oh yeah, I’ll totally help cause that’s what I want to do!” and it felt so wrong. The only reason she wanted to do anything because daddy was there and involved in it.

I thought Saw looked way too old. Yes, yes, Obi-Wan aged a crap ton between episode III and VI, and they all went through a lot with the war, but come on, Saw shouldn’t be that old considering the length of time line passed.

Then there is Krennic. Oh my goodness, did I hate this character. I think that’s the point of him, people are supposed to hate him, but my hatred was so much more than that. It’s like they wanted to make another Tarkin, but couldn’t make him too Tarkin-like, so they just made him an annoying whiny crybaby who wanted to be Tarkin but never could reach that Tarkin level of awesomeness.

Let’s not forget K-2S0, who annoyed the shit out of me for the entire movie. It’s like they were trying too hard to make his character comic relief but that he could only be funny in an overly insulting way.

So was there anything I liked about the movie?

Yes, I really enjoyed when the credits started rolling!

Okay, that’s not the only thing I liked. You know that scene where the rebel soldiers are trapped in the corridor and they are trying to get the plans through to the ship and Vader kills them all? Best 30 seconds of that movie, hands down. Although, I will admit it does bother me just a bit that Vader force gripped the gun out of one of the guys hands but doesn’t bother to even try to do the same to the plans. Yes, I get it, they had to get the plans through or else the entire original trilogy would be different. But come on, it doesn’t make sense to disarm guys when you can easy reflect blaster bolts away with your lightsaber and not try to get that critical bit of information back using that same Force technique.

Also, when everyone dies at the end, that was great. All those characters that I disliked are now erased from future movies. It put a smile on my face.

Alright, I’m done complaining. It’s sad that I didn’t love it, let alone like it, but I guess even fans of a series won’t love everything. I mean come on, lots of people hated Episode VII after all.

Side Note: I will admit that I feel like some of my dislike of this movie stems from reading Catalyst before seeing Rogue One. That book introduces several of the characters seen in the movie and sets up the whole building of the Death Star and what will eventually happen with Jyn’s family. This book pissed me off and it left a bit of a bad taste, which I tried really hard to ignore going into the movie but seeing those characters on screen brought all that hatred right to the surface.

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week is the Top Ten Books I Want My Child to Read.

Now that my son is finally starting to find his love of reading, I am busy filling his bookshelf with books I read and loved as a kid, along with books that he has shown interest in. So here are the books I want my son to read.

  1. The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster. This is one of my favorite books that I read in public school and I’m really excited to see him read it. He has it on his shelf and says he will read it soon.
  2. Misty of Chincoteague by Marguerite Henry. This and the rest of her books were my favorite book growing up and I read them so much as a kid that the books fell apart. A couple years ago I bought them all again and now I’m ready to have my son read them.
  3. The Black Stallion Series by Walter Farley. Another series that was a big part of my childhood and I want to share that with my son and see what he thinks of them.
  4. Roald Dahl’s books. The boy has read some of these books already, but I want him to read them all, and he wants to read them all as well. We have the box set of all of Dahl’s books, so it’s just a matter of time before he gets to all of them.
  5. Goosebumps by R.L. Stine. We own about 40 of these books, mostly the older ones, and recently added them to the boys bookshelves, they were too full previous to put them there, but now that he has cleared space he is eager to read them.
  6. The Borrowers Series by Mary Norton. I don’t remember reading these as a kid, though I probably did, but I want my son to read them and it was the main reason I bought the box set a couple years ago.
  7. The Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis. This is a must read, though I’m sure he will read it in school, I definitely want him to read the entire series. Then we can watch the original movies and the remakes.
  8. Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White. A children’s classic that is a must read. I know he has seen the old cartoon movie as well as the newer live action movie, but I want him to read the book to see the story that inspired those movies.

Alright, so I didn’t quite make it to ten, but it’s close. I know there are other books I want him to read, but I just can’t think of them at this moment. What books would you recommend for him to read? And no, I didn’t forget to put Harry Potter on the list, to be honest he has zero interest in that series.