Monthly Archives: June 2016

10 Cloverfield Lane – Film Review

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I went into this movie without any expectations. Only one person recommended this to me, and other than that, I heard absolutely nothing about it. The title, though, sounded familiar. I vaguely remember watching Cloverfield back in the day, but I never made it through the film because I don’t do well with shaky cameras. Although I’ve heard this movie called a sort-of sequel to Cloverfield, I found very little in common.

With a main cast of only three characters, the movie captures suspense wonderfully. It follows Michelle, played by Mary Elizabeth Winstead, as she packs her bags and takes off into the night road. She has a car wreck, and wakes up at a bunker with two men, the very eerie Howard, played by John Goodman, and my personal favorite Emmett, played by John Gallagher Jr. In here, understandably believing she’s been kidnapped by Howard, a paranoid man with one too many conspiracy theories, she is told that the outside world has been destroyed.

My favorite thing was the constant feeling of doom, even once Michelle felt a little more comfortable in the bunker. Howard’s unstable character kept me doubting his good intentions, and I wasn’t sure what was true and what wasn’t. In contrast, I loved Emmett’s innocence and quick alliance to Michelle, who was one of the best characters I’ve ever seen in a horror film. Michelle was a quick thinker, and she was so clever in all she did. I was actually rooting for her the entire time.

Nothing that happened in this movie was predictable. I was not sure what I was expecting, if anything, but I was left beyond astounded. There was something so original about this film, even though it had elements that are so overused. It was so well put together. I’m not sure what genre this film really fits into, but it left me a little disturbed. In a good way. I think this is one of the best movies I’ve seen in a long time.

My rating: 9.5/10

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We Are the Ants by Shaun David Hutchinson – Book Review

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“If you knew the world was going to end but you could prevent it, would you?”

I’ve asked myself this question time and time again. When I’m really angry or upset, my answer is an obvious no. When I’m content and surrounded by genuinely good people, my answer is yes. And some days, I just don’t bother to care. In the end, it’s all hypothetical. This is a fiction book, and it is highly unlikely that me, or anyone else in the world, will ever face that dilemma.

I admire a book that makes me ponder so hard and so long on a single question, though. I was not only fascinated by the premise of a boy who gets constantly abducted by aliens and is given the choice to save the world, but by the writing style. Everything is woven so perfectly, painting a vivid image. The miserable world of Henry becomes so real and so relatable. It is impossible not to fall for the characters surrounding him, and to hate plenty of them. This book is filled with relationships, with family and friends and lovers. It is full of people who love and hate and abuse and hurt and heal. It is filled with philosophy and science and theories.

Henry is battling the grief of his dead boyfriend. He isn’t in a very good state of mind, but he’s trying. He has a secret relationship with his bully, and he is constantly being abducted by aliens, which he nicknamed “sluggers.” Then, he meets Diego, a new student in school who is an optimist, despite having a few secrets of his own. Their friendship  grows throughout the story, and ultimately becomes more, although with complications. Henry also has to reconnect with his old best friend, Audrey, and his complex family members. Meanwhile, Henry continues struggling with his dilemma of whether or not the world is worth saving.

I loved reading this book. The journey it took me on was fascinating. But it didn’t deliver me with the answers I’d hoped for. I didn’t know the reason behind the things that happened in the story, but then again, I don’t know why anything happens in real life. I guess it’s reasonable to feel just as clueless in fiction. Despite the vagueness near the end, I felt some closure. I got an ending that made me think even more, that will possibly linger in my mind.

“We may not get to choose how we die, but we can choose how we live. The universe may forget us, but it doesn’t matter. Because we are the ants, and we’ll keep marching on.”

This was good food for thought. It was an enigma, like the beautiful Diego. It was a joy, like Audrey. It was a pain, like Charlie. And a nightmare, like Marcus. But It was worth the read. Although I wasn’t entirely fond of Henry, I understood him. Sometimes grief fogs our minds, and that’s not our fault.

This is worth reading simply if you wonder about life in general. Life on earth, as part of a galaxy, as part of the universe, in which you are as small and relevant as an ant who simply carries on.

Attachments by Rainbow Rowell – Book Review

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“Oh, yeah, life goes on, long after the thrill of living is gone.”

I consider myself a Rainbow Rowell fan. I’ve always connected with her stories, her characters, her quirky dialogue and beautiful love stories. I always expect the best of the best when I pick up one of her books. I’m saying this because, unfortunately, Attachments is my least favorite of her books.

This story follows Lincoln, a twenty-eight year old man trying to figure out his life. Lincoln works at a newspaper as an internet security person in charge of monitoring people’s e-mails, and such. There he stumbles upon the fun e-mail exchanges between Beth and Jennifer, who are constantly breaking company rules. Lincoln decides not to send either of them a warning, and simply reads their conversations.

The entire thing plays out like an old rom-com. Lincoln realizes he has feelings for Beth, but he has no idea what she looks like. All we learn about Beth and Jennifer is through their e-mails, but the story centers on Lincoln’s life. For some reason, Lincoln’s first serious girlfriend gets a big lengthy spotlight in the narration. That was where I got completely bored. I still don’t understand why the story focused so much on Lincoln’s first girlfriend, who ended up being a pretty shitty character.

Anyway, I couldn’t connect with any of the characters. Lincoln was so dull, and he didn’t have a personality. He was living with his mom at the start of the book, and he let her rule over him. Sure, he goes through a transition, and some character development, but he still doesn’t become interesting. I liked Jennifer a lot. Her storyline was my favorite in the entire book. I thought Beth and Jennifer were really cute, and I enjoyed their e-mails. Lincoln’s life, not so much.

This doesn’t read like a romance novel. And maybe that’s okay, but then, I’m not sure what exactly this is. Was it a coming of age story? Was it a friendship story? Was it an exposition on e-mail security? I mean, what the hell?

I gotta say, though, I liked the ending. It was quite lovely. I don’t regularly love the endings to any of Rowell’s books, but this one was my favorite. It wrapped everything the way I’d hoped, and it was worth the wait. The rest of the story, not so much.

Nonetheless, I am still a Rainbow Rowell fan. I still have to read Landline, and I’m honestly excited to get to it. I’m looking forward to everything else she writes. I understand this was her very first novel, so I’m gonna let it slide. Maybe it just wasn’t for me. I would still recommend this to fans of old school romantic comedies, with minimum romance.

Writing Follies Start of Summer Read-a-thon is Finished

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Isis

I got 5 pages into The Secret Life of Bees. It might not sound like a lot, but that was enough to make a good impression. This book had a great voice and I liked the narrator. But I had a trip in the middle of the week, so Day 5 and Day 6 I did little to no reading.

Then on Day 7, the final day, I worked all day, so I didn’t get to read either. Overall, I feel like I failed this read-a-thon. Halfway through it, I had given up mentally. I hope to eventually read all the books we picked. I just want to read books I’m really interested in. Or just something. I’m in a book slump, unfortunately.

 

Nicole

My update is similar to Isis’s update. I did not read a lot. I tried to finish The Old Man and the Sea first, but it was very boring. I think by Day 6 I was only on page 20, so I gave up. I turned to Attachments, and got 50 pages into that one. On Day 7, I didn’t read anything.

It sounds like a fail, but I’ve read two books this week. If I didn’t have this challenge, it would have probably been zero books read. So I think it’s a halfway win.

Writing Follies Start of Summer Read-a-thon Update

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Day 1

 Isis: I got very little done on the first day. I went to a book sale and then to the movies, and when I came home I caught up on some TV shows, and so until the end of the day I read Attachments.

It was not a fast-paced book, but it was probably the most fast-paced of all the books I picked. I got about 50 pages into Attachments the first day.

Nicole: I didn’t get home until five or so on the first day. I picked up The Secret Life of Bees intending to get to the halfway point before stopping, but that’s when the book got interesting. I finished it around one or two in the morning. I loved it.

Day 2

Isis: I procrastinated most of the day until I went to work and when I came home I read Attachments again. I stayed up until 1 AM until I finished the 323 pages. Then, I picked up Chocolat and got about 30 pages in. I was pretty exhausted by then, so I called it a day. Again, very slow paced books here. Nothing worth keeping me awake.

Nicole: Again I didn’t pick up my book until the evening,  and, again, I finished it in one night. I didn’t like The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian as much as The Secret Life of Bees, but it was still good.

Day 3

Isis: This was the worst day for me. Reading became tedious. I couldn’t get into Chocolat despite loving the movie, so I started The Great Gatsby and that was the worst idea. I had a big moment where I felt like I would never enjoy reading a book again, and so I did many things to keep me occupied. And I didn’t read until nighttime.

I decided to throw out The Great Gatsby and instead pick up The Old Man and The Sea which was much easier to get into. I read through the entire thing without a problem. It was not quick by all means, but very easy to read. I regained my love for reading.

Nicole: I think I exhausted myself because I didn’t read anything on this day. I told myself it was fine because I was so ahead, and Their Eyes were Watching God was my shortest book so it shouldn’t take any time at all.

Day 4

Isis: I read Chocolat at work, but only made it 100 pages in. It was very difficult to focus since I had a busy day. Then I traded books with Nicole. I now plan to read The Secret Life of Bees first and see how it goes. My expectations are very, very low.

Nicole: I only read the forward of Their Eyes were Watching God. It’s disappointing, especially since I was excited to read it, but a lot popped up so I didn’t have much time before the trade off.

I decided to read The Old Man and The Sea first since it is the book I least want to read, and it happens to be very short. I’m hesitant to read Isis’ books since she’s had such a hard time.

The Writing Follies Start of Summer Read-a-Thon

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We have decided to challenge ourselves and host own little read-a-thon. We’ve picked out six books, and beginning today, we’ll try to read all of them by June 11th.  Since we each have three books, we will be switching with each other on Tuesday. We each picked three questions for each other to guide on which books we are reading. The books are:

 

  • An Identity Book- a book about a different culture, religion, or sexual orientation

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie and Ellen Forney

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

  • A book from the Rory Gilmore challenge

The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd

The Secret Life of Bees

  • A book talked about in another book

Their Eyes were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston

Their Eyes Were Watching God

  • A book by an author you feel like you should have read about by now

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

The Great Gatsby

  • A book everyone is talking about

Attachments by Rainbow Rowell

Attachments

  • A book with a type of food/drink in the title

Chocolat by Joanne Harris

Chocolat